The process, practice and outcomes of non-financial auditing: Five Australian case studies
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The growth of ISO 9000 quality systems certification has slowed down with many companies opting out from the ongoing certification process. The future role of the non-financial auditor has been questioned, particularly in organisations with mature quality systems. Many studies have been conducted in the literature that tests the relationship between ISO 9000 certification and business performance. The results provide a ''snap shot'' in time of the ISO 9000 benefits. There has been an accumulation of lessons learned from thousands of certified companies worldwide, particularly in Australia. This paper is based on five Australian case studies focusing on ISO 9000 certification and non-financial auditing practice. The results of the case studies indicated that ISO certification can act as a catalyst for change, and can provide benefits through formalised systems and the promotion of proactive problem solving. The need for the auditor of the future to develop organisation specific experience, along with the skills to be able to adapt to the requirements of specific organisations, was identified as critical if non-financial auditing was to remain relevant and effective. Inability of certification to differentiate between different types of organisations, the relevance of certification for organisations with mature quality systems, lack of grading for different organisations and the ongoing relevance of the external auditor for mature quality systems were the major limitations noted. The increasingly important role of internal (as against external) auditing was also identified as a likely future trend, particularly for organisations with relatively mature quality systems. Based on the qualitative analysis, we conclude that the need for the non-financial auditor of the future to develop organisation specific experience, along with the skills to be able to adapt to the requirements of specific organisations, would be a critical factor for non-financial auditing to remain relevant and effective.
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