I’m confused about the difference between audit and inspection. I know that they will have different meanings if used in different processes, but I think that inspection is about “deliverable or output” while audits are about process.

The question asked:

Which of the following techniques help the project manager review a supplier’s internal work process to ensure compliance to standards during a production of the deliverables? (Assume all the different choices are available to the project manager).

I have to choose between Audits and Inspection. Looking at the word "process" I chose Audit, but was wrong.

What’s the reason of that? There isn’t a general rule for chosing between audit and inspection and I need to remember all the difference about all the process? Or there is some “particular words” that I have overlooked in the question?


2 Answers 2


No one can speak to the intent of the test designers or the scoring of tests, so I'll take a more general approach to the question. Dictionary definitions aside, the pragmatic difference is that:

  1. An inspection looks at a product, outcome, or work increment to compare it to some expected value. This is useful for progress tracking, validation, and decision-making.
  2. An audit is about traceability. When you audit something, you are trying to track a traceable marker (the artifact) for something specific as it passes through a process or sub-process.

While you could make a rational argument either way with this question, I'd say from a test perspective the word "review" is the key. A review is not an in-depth audit that traces an artifact through a system. Whether or not that's the reasoning behind the scoring of this particular question, it's certainly a reason that supports the result.

  • I think yes the word "review" can make the difference in this case. But it's a very small detail to get at the first time.
    – Neptune
    Apr 26, 2021 at 16:24

ISO9000 defines the difference as: Inspection: determination of conformity to specified requirements; and Audit: systematic, independent and documented process for obtaining objective evidence and evaluating it objectively to determine the extent to which audit criteria are fulfilled.

An audit is more encompassing, higher level, more broad, and includes the results of inspections. It's the difference between inspecting three stops on the assembly line versus auditing the entire line or even the plant. Personally, I also consider inspecting to be a leading, prospective action while an audit is a lagging, retrospective action. Somewhere else I read it's a weeds versus forest kind of thing. Weeds, you're inspecting. Forest, you're auditing.

Hope this helps.

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