Part of the fun of building a Management System of some description is knowing that at some stage you are going to be audited on it to get it certified.
Audits can be massively stressful for some people and I know myself I still sometimes get a few nerves when a client of mine is being audited for certification. The thought of getting a non-conformance and having to be re-audited makes me nauseous if a company has put a lot of time and money into it.
There are a few ways that you can reduce the pressure a little though.
If you have any areas that you know aren't quite up to scratch for gods sake do an in depth corrective action for them. Show that you know they are an issue and that you have a timeline for completing them. This can be the difference between getting a non-conformance or an area of concern. An area of concern or minor non-conformance is not a big deal and will be looked at in the next audit.
KNOW THE STANDARD. I know this is a bit of a no brainer but learn the standard inside and out and learn how to make it work for you. There is so much in a standard that is open to interpretation. Many auditors have their own idea of what needs to be done to fill a requirement but that doesn't mean you have to agree with them.
Don't be afraid to disagree with an auditor. If you think a decision on a requirement is incorrect then tell them. At the end of the day you are still their customer, you are paying them to do an assessment of your business.
Lastly if you have any people in the office that you think aren't going to be able to answer questions about the system properly, give them the day off or tell them to work from home or something. The last thing you need is some bright individual who hasn't paid attention to inductions etc to say something stupid. I've seen it before where a company has spent a lot of money trying to train their staff and some people just couldn't give two proverbials about it. It's embarassing having an auditor ask an employee about their environmental policy and they respond "what policy?"
Although stressful, the moment you realise that the audit is finished and all the auditor has to do is write their report is very satisfying. Every audit I have gone through feels like a little victory once it's over.
if you have any questions about the auditing process please don't hesitate to contact me