How the audit service can add value beyond assuring compliance to standards

​In his doctoral thesis, Jan Lenning shows how auditing of quality management systems can be improved by viewing auditing as a service, in what is called the "Augmented audit service model". One way of improving the value is to add functional experts to the audit team.

​What challenges do you focus on your research?

"ISO management system standards such as ISO 9001 have gained widespread attention, and ISO 9001 is now implemented by more than 1.2 million organisations worldwide. Following this diffusion of the ISO management system standards, internal and external audits have become a universal activity among certified organisations. However, audits have been reported to have had a negative association within many organisations, as they are perceived as an inspection activity, focusing on compliance and documentation, and adding disputed value. As a result, management have started to ask for return on investments for the non-negligible cost associated with certification and auditing of management systems. Therefore, I have focused my research on how auditing of quality management systems (QMS) can be improved to support value creation beyond assuring compliance to the requirements in ISO 9001."

How do you address the problem with your research?

"The mentioned challenges are addressed by studying changes in practises for auditing quality management systems and results of those changes. Challenges are also addressed by allying earlier suggestions for what to change in auditing with research on service management."

What are the main findings of your research?

"The main findings address the key elements of a service augmentation, that is: accessibility, interaction and participation. First, several short- and long-term changes of audit practices for improving auditees accessibility of the audit service have been presented, such as being more knowledgeable as auditor or adding functional experts to the audit team. Being more knowledgeable as audit team also supports a change in focus of internal auditing, from a focus on auditing specific organisational units to a focus on elements such as processes or organisational strategies which is found to be value-adding."

"Second, auditors being more adaptable to the operational context supports an improved interaction during the audit. Not being adaptable to the QMS context may impact management view on the QMS; for example, an audit focusing on documentation will fortify a management view that QMS is cost-driving, and lacking in strategic importance, which will result in management being likely to show little respect for quality management and related activities such as auditing." 

"Third, to improve auditees’ participation in the audit process, practices such as spending more time in the preparation phase of the audit and adding an audit sponsor from management improve the participation and enable a continuous involvement of management throughout the audit process. Having this participation from management also supports an early discussion about the content and focus of an upcoming audit and creates possibilities to align audits to strategic plans."

What do you hope your research will lead to?

"I hope that the results of my research, i.e. suggestions for improved audit practises and the augmented audit service model, will support managers and organisations responsible for different types of auditing, in their efforts to improve their auditing practises to support value creation beyond assuring compliance."

Text compliation: Daniel Karlsson
The thesis defence will be online on Zoom, 11 December at 13.15, see link on thesis’ page

More about Jan Lenning

Page manager Published: Mon 07 Dec 2020.