To Start my ISO Project I Need a Gap Audit…Don’t I?

Good Question.

Conventional wisdom is that step one is to determine your current situation.  In larger and more complex organizations this is more valid than in simpler and smaller organizations.

A formal gap audit will be conducted very much like an ISO assessment audit.  Each process will be examined, details will be checked and a comprehensive report will be generated.  Perhaps it doesn’t need to be as long as a formal ISO audit but gap audits are still often quite lengthy.

In many cases it is easy to determine the current situation.  “We don’t do internal audits, we haven’t got a formal calibration program, we don’t have a management review meeting”.  Many of the supporting ISO requirements are not implemented in organizations and you don’t need a formal gap analysis to tell you that.

The primary processes in an organization – those that you do for a living, tend to be in good shape.  ISO is such a good standard that if you are successful then you are probably meeting ISO 80-90%.  Consequently it will take a really detailed gap audit to identify these issues and that may simply not be worth it.  Accept that some “tweaking” will be necessary during the project…..but not much.

In most instances, with  a project plan in place,  the gap analysis has a very short life as any gaps are fixed within a few week.

When we perform consulting projects we skip the formal gap analysis in favor of a project planning exercise.  We look at each process, ask some telling questions and focus on planning the solution.  Documenting findings which we are going to fix in a few weeks is just  “busy work”.  We do a basic review of the current situation, produce a project plan identifying the ISO processes and cross referencing to the requirements we expect (at this stage) to address.  During the project, we get into each process in detail and make sure that everything is adequately addressed.  Thus any gaps that might have been around at the start of the project are not very relevant.  Of course we also course this a gap analysis!