Planning and Preparation for SQA and Internal audits

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The SQA / Internal audits should be planned very carefully to check or verify all of the software engineering, management, quality assurance processes and all of their products. The most common management processes would include project management process, status reporting, configuration management etc.

Engineering processes shall include analysis, design, and coding.  Quality Assurance processes include verification and validation processes.  Products include documents and code. If the scope of the audit is limited; then planning will be within the defined limits.  During a limited audit, the auditor may verify or check only few processes or some set of work products. Planning and preparation phase is very important in a limited audit. The auditor/lead auditor must be very careful while identifying the processes or product.

First of all, the auditor must understand the business logic or objective of the software project and what end products are to be produced. The auditor must need to understand the contractual requirements for the deliverable software, documentation, project management, software engineering and quality assurance practices. After understanding these requirements, the auditor should review the software project plan, configuration management plan, quality assurance plan, risk tracker, staffing and training plan, development processes etc. to understand the processes or procedures being followed for the software development.

The review of status reports from the development team is helpful to understand the stage of completeness of products and may contain useful information from the audit point of view. After understanding the project and its current status, the auditor needs to define the critical areas that require the detailed attention. The source of this information may be status reports, minutes of meeting of the review meetings with client or management, non-conformance reports and results of previous audits.

The auditor / lead auditor must inform the auditee team about the intent / scope of audit including the date and time of audit.

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Now, the next task for the auditor is to prepare a checklist. Basically, the checklists act as a road map during the actual audit. So, the checklists must include all checkpoints and questions to be asked from the auditee.

Generally, the checklist is already available in the Quality Management System. However, the checklist must be tailored for the specific project to be audited.

Regarding the checklists, my views are:

  • General Audit – a comprehensive and less detailed checklist
  • Limited Audit – a more detailed checklist in the specific area
  • Internal Quality Audit – a detailed checklist in all the relevant areas

The quality of the audit is directly proportional to the quality of the checklist prepared. The checklists are very critical to the success of audit. These checklists are also very helpful for the auditee to understand the type of questions and records the auditor will examine.

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