Auditing is part of the quality assurance function. It is important to ensure quality because it is used to compare actual conditions with requirements and to report those results to management.
In The Quality Audit: A Management Evaluation Tool (McGraw-Hill, 1988), Charles Mill wrote that auditing and inspection are not interchangeable: “The auditor may use inspection techniques as an evaluation tool, but the audit should not be involved in carrying out any verification activities leading to the actual acceptance or rejection of a product or service. An audit should be involved with the evaluation of the process and controls covering the production and verification activities.”
Formal management systems have evolved to direct and control organizations. There are quality management systems (QMSs) as well as environmental or other management systems, and each of these systems may be audited.
Excerpted from “Appendix E: History of Quality Assurance and Auditing,” from The ASQ Auditing Handbook, by the ASQ Audit Division and J.P. Russell, editor, ASQ Quality Press, 2012, pages 299-301.