Audit and auditing, some thoughts…
activity of auditing, the information obtained must assist the audit team to identify whether the implementation of a managerial system meets any of the internationally recognized and generally accepted (IRGA)
benchmarks such as ISO 9001 (or variants). During the realization of this activity, concurrence between said and done requires examination, evaluation, investigation and reporting. And that the resulting programs or
system meets the requirements under which the organization ascribes.
Obtaining objective evidence requires auditing skills,
techniques and knowledge on the activity to be audit. The old adagio "plan twice and realize once" goes far for auditing. A checklist / check sheet is an opportunity to "view" the activities to audit
and textually outline the strategy to follow. However, we ought not to fall prey to conformity checking. Once the strategy is planned through knowingly what information to obtain (on the basis of established criteria),
other questions will rise as the audit progresses.
Obtaining information is through techniques that allow the auditee to provide
information and assisting the audit team in concluding the level of system implementation effectiveness. As humans we have two ears and one mouth, use these accordingly. During this process ascertain that the
interviewee from whom gathering information is the correct responder. There may be no value in obtaining information from the incorrect source.
Clarification and confirmation is a technique that applies to assisting in ascertaining that the communication with interviewees is effective. The use of open and close
questions assist in achieving audit objectives. Close-questions are best apply when a specific piece of information needs confirming. Open questions are those leading to a conversation, and allow the interviewee(s) to convey information about the audit team inquiry, thus audit objectives. It is important for the auditee / interviewee to know what's being
valued, and that this value is the effectiveness of the management system and not their specific performance.
"straight forward" with interviewee / auditee and ask one question at a time - this is not a military type interrogation...
Careful playing psychologist, misreading a sign or body language could affect in the objective of the audit and confuse the interviewee. Much to often we encounter train auditors
that were taught to read this or that signal, experience and time has taught that techniques within the field of psychology is best left within the realm of the latter.
A Note on Note Writing
The interviewee / auditee must understand
that note taking does not construed wrong or right but just gathering information to arrive to conclusions. Needless to say do not take notes continuously, this impedes the interviewee to maintain a fluent conversation.
This is why understanding that what's being examining is the management system, practices and methods and not the performance of individuals. Thus to realize and transmit that this is true, second though must be given
to writing names of individuals when writing the report.
The auditee must feel comfortable, and yourself have informed, that the audit outcome they will be first to know. If your interview leads
to follow a trail, when feasible, inform the interviewee.
Also remember that the audit team records for future audits, source of
Closure and Follow-up
The audit report is to contain relevant information to the objective of the audit. The audit report, most likely a predetermined form, will contain and answer:
- Scope of the audit
- Audited activities / processes
- Dates and include specifics of shift
Include information that will assist auditee and follow-up audit team to achieve audit objective
The information shall briefly express
information on findings; observation; and nonconformity, if found
Conveys the information quickly and instigate taking action
As requires by third party auditing, classify any nonconformity
A final word on relating nonconformity to requirement, when identify a nonconformity convey the necessary information for the auditee to
take action leading from the possible cause (of the nonconformity itself). This last may be a difficult tasks of an effective and competent audit team.
The information herein noted applies equally to management systems, such as:
- ISO 9001
- ISO/IEC 17025
- ISO/IEC 27001
- ISO 22000
- ISO/IEC 17024
- ISO 13485
- TL 9000
- TS 16949
- And other management systems