Why Use a Manufacturing Process Audit Checklist

The purpose of a manufacturing process audit checklist is to provide a framework of questions to keep an auditor on track while performing their job. There has been some debate on the effectiveness of audit checklists, but there are clear benefits to using one in your auditing process.

Why use a manufacturing process audit checklist? Audit checklists are useful tools that keep an auditor on task. Implementing a checklist in the audit process ensures that every audit is performed in a comprehensive and consistent manner, resulting in all of the information you require about your manufacturing process.

It is entirely possible to perform a process audit without the use of a checklist, but you may find that by having one, you will see better results from your audits. Read below to learn more about the benefits and potential drawbacks of using a manufacturing process audit checklist.

audit checklist

Benefits of Using a Manufacturing Process Audit Checklist

Performing a manufacturing process audit is an important step in making sure that the process is performing efficiently and successfully. An internal audit will give you objective data to measure and compare with past audits so you can easily see what is going right and what is going wrong. Having a checklist during an audit can help out in a number of ways.

Ensure the Audit Is Comprehensive

When it comes to auditing any process in your business, there is a lot to check for. It can be difficult for anyone to remember every question they need to ask or every requirement they need to check. That's where a checklist comes in.

Armed with an audit checklist, the auditor is less likely to miss anything. They have a ready-to-go list of everything they need to ask, who they need to ask, and what parts of the process need to be checked. Having such a comprehensive list prevents any important factors of the audit from being missed.

All Audits Are Performed Consistently

It is likely that there isn't only one person performing your manufacturing process audits every single time. Even so, you want every audit to be done the same way so that all of the collected data can be compared easily to identify needed improvements.

An audit checklist ensures that no matter who is performing the audit, the same data will be collected each and every time. Aside from minor changes, the checklist should always remain primarily the same, which means all the same questions will be asked during the audit. You can use these checklists as a side-by-side comparison to clearly see how your process is performing.

Provide Evidence of an Audit

In most cases, process audits are a requirement for your business to meet a certain standard. It is also required that you have evidence that the audit was actually performed. Having a completed audit checklist filed away means you have the evidence on-hand whenever necessary.

Foreman checklist document

A manufacturing process audit checklist also provides objective evidence that your process is improving. Comparing the data collected gives you an easy way to show that you are always getting better. And if not, it pinpoints what you can do the get better in the long run so that quick corrective actions can be taken.

Help Plan for Future Audits

With all of the data collected in your checklist, you can use it to plan for the future. Every audit is bound to be a little different depending on the current needs of your system and the process that is being audited.

An audit checklist is a fantastic tool to integrate into your audit planning. You can use the information gathered from the audit to decide where more or less focus needs to be placed during the next audit. This will help make the most out of every single audit.

Drawbacks of Using an Audit Checklist

There are factors of checklists that can have the opposite effect of what you are trying to achieve. With careful planning and close attention, most of these issues can be avoided completely. If you want to get the most out of your audit checklist, it's best to keep these things in mind.

The Checklist Is Poorly Formed

Whether you are creating your audit checklist from scratch or building it off of a template, it could end up being inferior to your needs. Checklists that don't include everything that needs to be looked into aren't going to be a big help to your auditing process.

When you are drafting your checklist, it is crucial to be certain you include all of the necessary questions to audit your manufacturing process. You should also be sure that questions are not repeated in other ways as it could slow down the process.

If you are using a template, you have to spend the time to customize it to suit your needs. Leaving the checklist as a primarily generic sample is only going to hinder your process audit instead of helping it.

The Length of the Checklist Is Intimidating

For the people on the other side of the audit, a long list of questions could seem more like an interrogation. While you shouldn't shorten your checklist and risk losing out on important information, you should take steps to prepare employees for every audit.

Don't spring an audit on anyone. Let them know ahead of time when the audit is going to take place for the process they are involved in. Give them some insight on questions that may be asked and the appropriate way to respond. If they feel well prepared for the audit, they are less likely to be worried about the checklist.

The Auditor Relies Solely on the Checklist

While a process audit checklist is a useful tool for an auditor, it should not be the end all be all of their auditing knowledge. An audit checklist should not be an excuse to skip the planning of an audit. Just because you already have a list of questions doesn't mean you shouldn't be planning everything out.

Well trained auditors should use a combination of their expertise, judgment, and the checklist to run a successful process audit. They shouldn't put all of their faith in the checklist to guide them through, or they might miss something along the way.

Should You Use a Template for Your Audit Checklist?

Just like a manufacturing process audit checklist is a valuable tool, templates can be extremely useful as well. Drafting a full checklist from start to finish could take a lot more time and effort if done from scratch. Reading up on and listing out all of the requirements you should be checking off can be a daunting task.

When you use a well-made template to draw up your audit checklist, you know that everything you need is already included. Template creators spend their time listing out all of the requirements so that you don't have to. They also come with helpful instructions on how to customize the template to your business and how to use the checklist to collect data.

If you decide to use a template you should make sure to thoroughly review and customize it so that it's exactly what you need. Using something generic or only slightly changed could serve to only confuse an auditor rather than help them. You have to take care to make the template your own so that it benefits your business.

An Audit Checklist Gives You Support

Manufacturing process audits are a very involved part of a business. There is a lot that goes into auditing any process, and you don't want to have concerns about missing anything. A checklist can provide a strong support system for your audit.

Using a manufacturing process audit checklist aids in ensuring that every audit is thorough. Having a list of questions to refer to keeps the auditing process consistent and results in data that can be easily compared.

A checklist is just another tool on the path to continually improving your manufacturing process. With such a handy tool at your disposal, you can be certain you are getting the most out of every audit.

ISO 9001 Documentation


Written: 11th August 2019
Author: Richard Keen

Richard Keen

Richard Keen

Richard is our Compliance Director, responsible for content & product development.
But most importantly he is ISO's biggest fanboy and a true evangelist of the standards.
Learn more about Richard