ISO Audit VS HR Audit: 3 Key Differences that Every Manager Should Know

Nowadays, it is not uncommon for an organization to adopt ISO standards, specifically ISO 9001 standard to ensure a total quality management. Given its exhaustive coverage on typically every aspects of an organization’s business process, it is normal for an organization to assume that the human resource (HR) perspective is completely covered. However, contrary to this popular belief, a HR audit actually covers more areas than what is listed in the ISO 9001 standard. Here are some of the main differences that every HR manager should acknowledge.

Firstly, ISO Audit is a holistic evaluation exercise that focuses on the process aspects of an organization, covering from need analysis towards customer maintenance. In an ISO audit, human resource is mentioned under Clause 6.2, which mainly emphasize on the process documentation of competence, training and awareness. HR audit, on the other hand, focuses on the complete HR functional processes and metrics. These cover elements such as recruitment, selection, compensation, training, performance appraisal, and also succession planning. As such, a HR audit consists of a comprehensive coverage of all HR aspects to provide a 360 degree view of HR status of an organization.

Typically, companies usually adopt ISO Standard and strive hard to comply with its requirements. Unfortunately, focus is normally given to the preparation of auditing proof for process compliance, which doesn’t always match with actual implementation practice. HR audit is a complete assessment tool that helps organization achieves a good head start. It allows companies to perform an overview self-analysis, starting from the recruitment process, with focus on the implementation, without much worry about compliance issues as it is automatically ensured.


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Compared to ISO audit which is usually an evidence-based yearly exercise, a HR Audit provides tools that enable a more frequent inspection of every aspects of HR. In other words, it is a continuous improvement process on each element of HR implementation. Such an auditing exercise shall help to identify critical personnel problems in a timely manner, thus improving the responsiveness of HR management policies and practices to align with business objective.

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