ISO Audit Preparation and How To Get The Auditor On Your Side
There are numerous guides on ISO Audit preparation on the internet. However, having once worked as an auditor for a National Certification Body, I can spot that many of them miss out some very basic issues. There are a number of legitimate and sensible ways to get an auditor to be constructive and help your business. Here are a few tips to get them on your side.
A Welcome! – Find somewhere reasonably quiet to work and provide a warm drink. He has to complete an opening meeting and gather/confirm some basic data. Having somewhere with a power socket for a laptop, something to put it on and some creature comforts will make his task easier.
Who? – Make sure those to be audited know what their job title is, what their main role is and where they fit in the organisation. If Directors are to be involved remind them what objectives they’ve set, and where the evidence of their performance against those objectives can be found. Does this sound insultingly obvious? Sadly it’s quite common. ISO audit preparation involves much of “the obvious”.
What? – Ensure everyone knows where their operating procedures are to be found and what it is they are supposed to do. How acquainted are they with the Quality Management System? Encourage them to be able to describe their processes without throwing in additional information and wherever possible. And without making things up. Lies are very easy to identify, and most auditors respond very badly to being lied to. Auditors follow leads, they rarely have those leads before they speak to you. So be careful how you respond to them, unless you want something to be followed up of course. Don’t throw in additional peripheral information, even if you think it’s harmless. You never know where it will lead. Bombarding your auditor with information will not impress him, but simply open up more opportunities to find “holes” in things.
Where? – Any auditor worth his non-compliance pad is going to want to see where you actually “do” whatever it is you do. Walking around your shop-floor, warehouse, manufacturing plant will give many clues to his skilful and experienced eye. Don’t assume that because he’s wearing a suit, he’s never worn overalls. I began my working life , aged 16, with a major manufacturer in the Nottingham/Derby area, so have a good understanding of what a well-run manufacturing environment should look like, which was a great asset as an auditor. So, a quick tidy-up the night before is always worthwhile in creating the correct impression. If more than a quick tidy up is required, then your Quality Management System probably isn’t working properly, so perhaps it’s worth risking leaving it as it is and getting the auditor to help you find ways of motivating your team to improve it ! Very few managers realise that ISO Audit Preparation can be a superb stimulus for taking a long hard look at how you do business!
When? – Try and plan suitable time slots to see those on the auditors programme. The auditor should have left you with a list of what processes he was planning to review, so have a look at it and try and plan out who he needs to see. This is also a good time to weed out the people you don’t want him to see. Unfortunately not everyone makes a good impression and personally I can’t see any problem with avoiding those who represent your business badly if you possibly can.
From being an auditor with a UK-Based National Certification Body, I set up my own consultancy business a number of years ago. I am truly “gamekeeper turned poacher”, so hopefully bring a unique perspective to the whole ISO Audit Preparation and certification process. So, if you feel I might be able to help,please be in touch!
Written by Colin Brown of ISO Consultants