Competence and Evaluation of Auditors: ISO 19011: 2018 (3rd Edition)

Your confidence kills your fears when they appear. Your competence makes them not to appear at all. Be bold; do it.” ― Israelmore Ayivor.


No one likes to be audited. No one wants someone should evaluate us and tell us about our shortcomings. Still, we go to school and insist our children complete their basic education. Based on the result of the examination, we conclude about our understanding and clarity about a subject. If the teachers are competent and the evaluation of the students is done objectively, the possibility of having a responsible and caring society is enhanced.       

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Content: ISO 19011: 2018: Competence and Evaluation of Auditors (Clause 7.0)

  1. What are the criteria to determine the competence required?
  2. How to establish the evaluation criteria?
  3. How to select the appropriate evaluation method?
  4. How to conduct the evaluation?
  5. Conclusion


ISO 19011: 2018 standard guides the management of an audit programme, on the planning and conducting of management system audits, as well as on the competence and evaluation of an auditor and an audit team.

Once you read this blog, you will understand, what are the criteria to determine the competence required, how to establish the evaluation criteria, how to select the appropriate evaluation method and how to conduct the evaluation.

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ISO 19011: 2018/ISO 9000: 2015

Audit (Cl 3.1): systematic, independent and documented process for obtaining objective evidence (3.8) and evaluating it objectively to determine the extent to which the audit criteria (3.7) are fulfilled

Audit Programme (Cl 3.4): arrangements for a set of one or more audits (3.1) planned for a specific time frame and directed towards a specific purpose

Audit Scope (Cl 3.5): extent and boundaries of an audit (3.1)

Audit Plan (Cl 3.6): description of the activities and arrangements for an audit (3.1)

Audit Criteria (Cl 3.7): a set of requirements (3.23) used as a reference against which objective evidence (3.8) is compared

Audit Findings (Cl 3.10): results of the evaluation of the collected audit evidence (3.9) against audit criteria (3.7)

Competence (Cl 3.22): ability to apply knowledge and skills to achieve intended results.

Performance (Cl 3.25): measurable result.

Effectiveness (Cl 3.26): the extent to which planned activities are realized and planned results achieved.

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Detailed Information

In the ISO 19011 series, the latest version is 2018. The details of the 3 versions are as follows.

  • ISO 19011: 2002: 1st Edition
  • ISO 19011: 2011: 2nd Edition
  • ISO 19011: 2018: 3rd Edition

The Standard was revised in 2018 as there was a need to consider a broader approach to management system auditing, as well as providing more generic guidance. Audit results can provide input to the analysis aspect of business planning and can contribute to the identification of improvement needs and activities.

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What is ISO 19011: 2018 (As per

This document provides guidance on auditing management systems, including.

  • the principles of auditing,
  • managing an audit programme,
  • conducting management system audits, as well as
  • guidance on the evaluation of competence of individuals involved in the audit process.

These activities include the individual(s) managing the audit programme, auditors and audit teams.

It applies to all organizations that need to plan and conduct internal or external audits of management systems or manage an audit programme.

The application of this document to other types of audits is possible, provided that special consideration is given to the specific competence needed.

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Types of Audit:

  1. 1st Party Audit: Internal by the organization
  2. 2nd Party audit: Customer, Supplier
  3. 3rd Party audit: Certification/Accreditation body, Legal Body

Structure of ISO 19011: 2018

  • Clause 4: Principles of Auditing
  • Clause 5: Managing an Audit Programme
  • Clause 6: Conducting an Audit
  • Clause 7: Competence and Evaluation of Auditors

Competence and Evaluation of Auditors (Clause 7.0)

Confidence in the audit process and the ability to achieve its objectives depends on the competence of auditors who are involved in performing audits. Competence should be evaluated regularly through a process that considers personal behaviour and the ability to apply the knowledge and skills gained through education, work experience, auditor training and audit experience. The following are the 5 key steps (based on the PDCA approach) to determine the competence of the auditors and to evaluate them.

  1. Determining Auditor Competence
  2. Establishing Auditor Evaluation Criteria
  3. Selecting Appropriate Auditor Evaluation Method
  4. Conducting Auditor Evaluation
  5. Maintaining and Improving Auditor Competence
  1. Determining Auditor Competence: Auditor competence can be determined by following the below 4 steps. They are a. Personal Behaviour, b. Knowledge and Skill, c. Achieving Auditor Competence, d. Achieving Audit Team Leader Competence
  • Personal Behaviour: Auditors should exhibit professional behaviour during the performance of audit activities. Desired professional behaviour includes the following:
    • Ethical, open-minded, diplomatic, observant, perceptive, versatile, tenacious, decisive, self-reliant, culturally sensitive, collaborative, open to improvement and able to act with fortitude.
  • Knowledge and Skill: The auditor should have the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve the intended results of the audits they are expected to perform. It includes.
    • Generic knowledge and skills of management system auditors: It includes 7 audit principles, processes and methods (PDCA, process approach), management system standards and other references, the organization and its context and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements and other requirements.
    • Discipline and sector-specific competence of auditors: Audit teams should have the competence related to the specific Standard (ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 45001, IATF 16949, ISO 22000, As 9000) and sector-specific competence (Automotive, Food, Information technology, Medical devices, Aerospace etc.) for auditing the particular types of management systems and sectors.
    • Generic competence of audit team leader: To facilitate an effective and efficient audit, the team leader should possess the competence to plan the audit, conduct strategic discussions with the top management, collaborative work environment with the audit team, understand the complete auditing process, effective internal communication with the team, derive the audit conclusion objectively and complete the audit report  
    • Knowledge and skills for auditing multiple disciplines: The audit team member should have an understanding of the interactions and synergy between the different management systems like ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and ISO 45001 and recognize the limits of their competence in each of the disciplines.
  • Achieving Auditor Competence: The criteria for the achievement of Auditor competence can be a combination of the following.
    • Completing the training program and related examination
    • Experience in relevant position
    • Education/training in a specific management system discipline or sector
    • Audit experience
  • Achieving Audit Team Leader Competence: Apart from having audit experience as an Auditor, additional audit experience under the direction and guidance of different audit team leaders.
  1. Establishing Auditor Evaluation Criteria: The criteria for auditor evaluation should have both subjectivity and objectivity so that the overall competence of the auditor can be gauged.
    • Qualitative: Demonstrated desired behaviour, knowledge or the performance of the skills, in training or the workplace.
    • Quantitative: Years of work experience and education, number of audits conducted, hours of audit training
  2. Selecting Appropriate Auditor Evaluation Method: While deciding about the methodology to select the appropriate evaluation method, it should be ensured that the outcome should be objective, consistent, fair and reliable. The following are the 6 different methods to evaluate the auditor’s competence. These can be used in combination, depending upon the requirement.

  1. Conducting Auditor Evaluation: The key objective is to evaluate the auditor against the defined competence requirement (knowledge and skill) and check how far the auditor is meeting the requirement. Wherever the auditor is not meeting the requirement, additional training should be provided and re-evaluation should be performed.
  2. Maintaining and Improving Auditor Competence: Auditors should continually maintain and improve their competence through regular participation in management system audits and continual professional development (such as additional work experience, training, private study, coaching, attendance at meetings, seminars, conferences or other relevant activities). It further includes,
    • Changes happening in the industry.
    • Updated auditing skills including the use of technology (online audits, Use of Artificial Intelligence)
    • Changes in management system or addition (Business Continuity, Risk management, Anti-bribery, DE & I)

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The process of determining the competence of the auditors and its evaluation gives confidence to the organization and relevant interested parties like certification bodies about the auditing process and its output. The effective and efficient process of competence and evaluation helps the organization to trust in its management system and feel confident about offering products and services which are best in the class.

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ISO 19011: 2018

ISO 9001: 2015

ISO 9000:2015

ISO/TS 9002: 2016

ISO 9004: 2018

IATF 16949: 2016

Industry Experts

This is the 197th article of this Quality Management series. Every weekend, you will find useful information that will make your Management System journey Productive. Please share it with your colleagues too.

In the words of Albert Einstein, “The important thing is never to stop questioning.” I invite you to ask anything about the above subject. Questions and answers are the lifeblood of learning, and we are all learning. I will answer all questions to the best of my ability and promise to keep personal information confidential.

Your genuine feedback and response are extremely valuable. Please suggest topics for the coming weeks.

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