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Gap analysis vs. internal audit in AS9100: What is the difference?

There are many terms used when implementing an aerospace Quality Management System (QMS) using the requirements of the AS9100 Rev D standard, and these can sometimes be confusing. Two of these terms that are often confused are gap analysis and internal audit, and understanding the difference between these two concepts can help you to implement or transition your QMS more easily.

What is a gap analysis?

The gap analysis is a tool that is used at the start of your implementation or transition process, and is designed to compare your current processes against a standard set of requirements – in this case AS9100 Rev D. The gap analysis tool can be a quick, very general tool to give you an idea of what you are missing in your current processes to meet the requirements, and to guide you in the direction of what additions, updates, or changes might be needed. These tools are often available as easy-to-use online calculators.

For a more in-depth analysis it can be necessary to go through the entire AS9100 Rev D standard, line by line, and ensure you meet every requirement. The standard is written such that every requirement is indicated by a “shall” statement, such as “the quality policy shall be available and maintained as documented information.” For each of these “shall” statements, you need to ask yourself: “Do we do that?” If the answer is yes, then you meet the requirements, but if the answer is no you have identified a gap that needs to be addressed. This can be especially useful if you have a QMS that is compliant with ISO 9001:2015, which you are trying to transition to meet the requirements of AS9100 Rev D.

What is an internal audit?

Once you have put in place the processes, procedures, and documentation that are necessary for your organization to deliver the products and services required to meet your customer needs, you will have a functioning Quality Management System, and this is what will become known as your “planned arrangements.” The planned arrangements are what you have determined needs to happen to meet the requirements of AS9100 Rev D, as well as the needs of your customers and interested parties with respect to delivery of your products and services. It is these planned arrangements that are used on an ongoing basis for your internal audit program.

Simply put, the goal of your internal audit is to gather evidence of what is actually happening in your processes, and compare this to the planned arrangements for those processes. If the evidence shows that the process is performing according to the planned arrangements as expected, then the process is conforming; however, if there is a difference between what is happening and what was supposed to happen, this needs to be addressed through corrective action.

Corrective action can be performed either by correcting the process to meet the current planned arrangements, or by updating the planned arrangements if there is now a better way to perform the process. In this way, your ongoing internal audits can be used to correct and improve your processes by identifying areas of continual improvement, and the reports from the internal audits can help management keep their finger on the pulse of the company processes during management review.

For more information on how the internal audit works, see this article on 6 main steps in the internal audit according to AS9100 Rev D.

Implement AS9100 Rev D easier with gap analysis and internal audit

As you can see, during implementation, the gap analysis and internal audit can work hand in hand; however, there is a difference between the two. Gap analysis is a tool used during QMS implementation to help ensure that the planned arrangements for your QMS processes are fully compliant with the AS9100 Rev D requirements. On the other hand, the internal audit is an ongoing tool that then takes those planned arrangements to ensure that your processes continue to function as planned, as well as finding ways to improve.

Use both wisely, and you will have the necessary tools to be able to implement and maintain the Quality Management System that you need to provide your products and services, improve your overall processes, and increase customer satisfaction.

To help you perform the internal audit and gap analysis for the AS9100 Rev D standard, download this free whitepaper: Clause-by-clause explanation of AS9100 Rev D.

Advisera Mark Hammar
Mark Hammar
Mark Hammar is a Certified Manager of Quality / Organizational Excellence through the American Society for Quality and has been a Quality Professional since 1994. Mark has experience in auditing, improving processes, and writing procedures for Quality, Environmental, and Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems, and is certified as a Lead Auditor for ISO 9001, AS9100, and ISO 14001.