Setting Up Your Audit Program

You have been assigned responsibility for setting up a management system audit program.

You may be asking yourself –

  • What do I need to do?
  • Where should I start?
  • What requirements will need to be met?
  • How much time is it going to take?

The purpose of this page is to help you answer these questions and provide information that will help you develop your own effective management system audit program.

So let’s get started….

What do I need to do?

Get prepared.

Managing an audit program can be tough.

It requires people skills and the ability to juggle multiple tasks and accommodate diverse perspectives.

One of the changes made to ISO 19011 was adding guidance specifically focused on the roles and responsibilities of the person managing the audit program.

These include –

  • establishing and maintaining audit procedures
  • determining the resources needed to achieve the audit program objectives
  • determining audit methods and appropriate means of addressing audit risk
  • selecting audit teams and evaluating auditor competence’
  • ensuring appropriate audit records are maintained
  • reviewing the audit program for improvement purposes

Where should you start?


Like other management system elements, management system audit programs require clear objectives and documented procedures.

The Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle that forms the basis for most of the management system standards can be a useful model for setting up your audit program as well.


What requirements does your audit program need to meet?

The “specifications” of your management system audit program can be complex.

  • It depends on the types of audits you plan to conduct.
  • It depends on whether you want to get your management system certified and by whom.
  • It depends on the goals you want to meet – and those of your important stakeholders.
  • It depends on the policies your organization has established – and the requirements of your customers.

How much time is it going to take?

Like most management system implementation projects, the answer is – “It depends.”

Writing the appropriate procedures will not take too long IF the appropriate decisions have been made.

Setting up an audit schedule can be done relatively quickly IF there is organizational support for the audits.

Individual audits can be completed in a few days IF there are competence auditors available.

These are, of course, some pretty big “IFs.”

ISO 19011:2011 can help.

ISO 19011 provides guidance on –

  • Principles of auditing (Section 4)
  • Managing an audit program (Section 5)
  • Conducting management system audits (Section 6)
  • Evaluation of auditor competence (Section 7)

Last revision 8/2016

What is ISO 19011?

For more information about ISO 19011 and to download a FREE white paper on the revision of the standard, click here.

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ENLAR offers FREE webinars that offer valuable insights on conducting effective management system audits.

To check out our upcoming webinars, click here.