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What is ISO 19011?

ISO 19011 is the standard that provides Guidelines for Quality or Environmental Management Systems Auditing. Internal audits are a requirement of ISO 9001:2015, addressed in clause 9.2. Although internal audits are a necessity, they are often not performed equally, for this reason ISO 19011 was developed. If you are considering hiring a consultant, or are going to use internal auditors in your company, you should ensure that they follow the ISO 19011 requirements.

ISO 19011:2018 (Guidelines for auditing management systems), was published in July 2018 in response to demand for guidance on combined management system audits.

Buy a Copy of the ISO 19011 Standard, which is available in two versions:

It offers comprehensive guidelines for quality and/or environmental management systems audit. The objective is that by using this document, organizations can save effort, time, effort and expenditure by:

  • Avoiding confusion over the objectives of the environmental or quality audit program.
  • Ensuring audit reports follow the best format and contain all the relevant information.
  • Securing agreement of the goals for individual audits within an audit program.
  • Evaluating the competence of members of an audit team against appropriate criteria.
  • Reducing duplication of effort when conducting combined environmental/quality audits.

Important revisions of ISO 19011:2018 to meet the new High-Level Structure include:

  • A risk-based approach
  • An expansion on managing an audit program
  • Greater detailed instructions on how to conduct an audit
  • Extension on competence requirements for auditors
  • Adjusted terminology
  • Removal of “Guidance and illustrative examples of discipline-specific knowledge and skills of auditors” Annex A in ISO 19011:2011
  • Expansion on “guidance for auditors planning and conducting audits”

ISO 19011 was designed so organizations can efficiently perform audits using these guidelines. Within one single standard there are now four critical decision/support resources for the efficient planning, conduct, and evaluation of quality and environmental audits:

  1. A clear explanation of the principles of management systems auditing.
  2. Advice on the competence and evaluation of auditors.
  3. Guidance on the management of audit programs.
  4. Guidance on the conduct of internal or external audits.

It is a set of principles that will help anyone perform an audit effectively because it focuses on the underlying processes of audit management. It could be used when auditing any management system.


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