Difference between Audit and Inspection

Each one of us can make a difference. Together we make a change: Barbara Mikulski


Husband and wife have a difference of opinion. Parent and child have a generation gap. Employer and employee see things from a different perspective. We individuals have different viewpoint for the same situation as New Year resolution. But we all are right from our perspective!


We interchangeably use many words without realizing the fact that each word has its own meaning and significance. Audit and Inspection are two such words which we often use as same without comprehending that each of them has a distinct meaning and purpose. To put in a summary, Audit is about ‘Past’ and Inspection is about ‘Present!’   

Definitions: ISO 9000: 2015

Inspection (Cl 3.11.7): Determination of conformity to the specified requirement.

Audit (Cl 3.13.1): Systematic, independent and documented process for obtaining objective evidence and evaluating it objectively to determine the extent to which audit criteria are fulfilled

Detailed Information

In an organization, Audit and Inspection are conducted at different stages of the process. The key objective is to ensure that product and services are able to fulfil the organization and relevant interested parties’ requirements (like a customer).

Audit and Inspection: It can be of 3 different types

First Party: By the organization for their own organization

Second Party: Either by the customer (for the organization) or for the supplier (by the organization).

Third-Party: Independent body like Certification body, Government, Banker etc. for the organization

There are few distinct differences between Audit and Inspection which are stated below although both needs to be conducted by competent personnel (even though competency requirements may vary).

Key Difference between Audit & Inspection

S.No. Audit Inspection
1 About the Past About the Present
2 Checking how things are done Doing something
3 Strength and Weakness Fulfilment of specification
4 Sampling basis only Can be sampling or 100% as per requirement
5 To verify whether planned objectives have been met or not To check compliance against a specification
6 Check the root cause analysis and action taken and its effectiveness Check the present status only
7 2-way process (collaborative approach) which results in improvement (Auditor & Auditee) One-way process
8 Proactive approach, always planned Can be a planned or unplanned activity
9 For the System implementation and effectiveness For a particular product/Service whether it is as per specification or not
10 Check the documents and implementation of procedures Check the compliance to the requirement as per Standard

Present Challenges:

  • How often qualified Internal Auditors are clear about the difference between Audit & Inspection?
  • How often the organization understand the difference between Product Audit & Product Inspection?
  • How often organizations understand the difference between Product Audit and Layout Inspection?


IATF 16949: 2016


This is the 90th 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.

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


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3 years ago

Very good and easy way to learn, very informative

Surjit singh
Surjit singh
3 years ago

Good presentation in simple & systematic explained to make individual easy to understandand & follow the same

Dinesh 2adhwa
Dinesh 2adhwa
3 years ago

Thanks for giving clarity for the difference between Audit and Inspection .
But I have quiry, in my opinion Audit is about both past and present like 3rd party audits check both Past and present based on which they raise NC , where as inspection is about present only .

Raj Dev
Raj Dev
3 years ago

Amazing and wonderful articles Sir

3 years ago

Great sir.
Wonderful way of explaination .
Its a request sir , please make a video on documents required in organization and what kind of formats must be there.