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Linking Audits to Strategic Plans

Nicole Radziwill

It’s strategic planning time! Use these guidelines to make it easier for you to translate your company’s amazing ideas into reality.

Audits and management reviews, especially when they are used specifically to maintain an ISO 9001 certification, are rarely thought of as strategic exercises. Instead, they are ways to continually monitor operational processes, identify opportunities for improvement, and track progress on corrective actions taken to realize those improvements.

But audits regularly result in solid benefits for organizations, including (Russell, 2016):

  • Cost Savings - Enacting process changes that result in lowering daily expenses, fixed costs, requirements for working capital, requirements for new capital expenditures, or reducing waste and rework
  • Risk Reduction - Enacting process changes with failure modes that are fewer, less severe, less frequent, or easier to detect
  • Increased Opportunity - Remove barriers to improvements, increase services or production capacity, reduce stress and anxiety on workers to help them be more productive and innovative

These authors go on to recommend consciously linking audit results to an organization’s strategic objectives. For example, if one of an organization’s strategic objectives is to reduce operating costs by 10 percent, the quality manager in charge of audits can create an action plan to continually monitor and track costs in categories like salaries, overtime, fringe benefits, maintenance, supplies, travel, and depreciation. The savings that are realized as a result of corrective actions that emerge from audits can then be directly linked to the annual strategic plan.

“Just as an audit program’s mission should be linked to the organization’s mission, the audit program’s results should be linked to the organization’s needs. Linking results to needs demonstrates that the audit program recognizes and is committed to the organization’s success. It aligns itself with business purposes.” --Russell (2016)

Being able to demonstrate the value of audits and management reviews to broader strategic objectives may make it easier to engage people cross-functionally in quality activities, while simultaneously making it easier to justify quality management resources to senior leaders. After all, quality is not just an add-on function to regular operational roles, but a core capability.

Additional Reading

Freeman, G. (2019). Culture of Quality: Achieving Success with Tools, Processes, and People. Intelex Insight Report. Available from

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). (2019). Baldrige Excellence Framework (Business/Nonprofit): Proven leadership and management practices for high performance. Available from

Russell, J. P. (Ed.). (2012). The ASQ auditing handbook. Milwaukee, WI: ASQ Quality Press.

About the Author: Nicole Radziwill is the Vice President, Global Practice Leader, Quality & Supply Chain at Intelex Technologies. Before Intelex, she was an Associate Professor of Data Science and Production Systems, Assistant Director (VP) End-to-End Operations at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), and manager and consultant for several other organizations since the late 1990's bringing quality management to technologically-oriented operations. She is a Fellow of the American Society for Quality (ASQ) with a Ph.D. in Quality Systems from Indiana State University. Nicole serves as Editor of Software Quality Professional (SQP) journal and is a former Chair of the ASQ Software Division. She is an ASQ Certified Manager of Quality and Organizational Excellence (CMQ/OE) and Certified Six Sigma Black Belt (CSSBB). 



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August 22, 2019 @ 09:19 AM EDT Manufacturing Operations, Quality

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