This week we organized a great workshop together with the Team of Brown Paper Audit. They introduced their refreshing point of view to audits. Rather than the one-on-one talks with people in the company, they recommend having an interactive session with a group of colleagues. This is definitely not a solution to all the audit fallacies, but an excellent tool to use. During the workshop the main topics were around:

  • Audits in general
  • Context analysis
  • Management review

Audits in General

The overall feeling by the group was that lots of audits are still performed because the external auditor requires them. Regardless, lots of Quality/Safety Managers noted that they preferred a different take on this. An important fallacy they pointed out was a lack of defining a clear goal for the audit. When questioned, they noted there wasn’t always a clear goal defined on what to do with the outcome. The audit report with some NC was filled in but never really given enough attention. In general, the Quality/Safety professionals had the intention to make the audit results more important and create ownership with the audited person. Giving credit where credit is due can do this. When the audited person resolved the improvement, make the company aware of the effort done by the audited person. Next to the results, most Quality/Safety Managers had to admit that the one-on-one talks didn’t give a great insight into what is going on in the company. When tens or even hundreds of people perform a process, auditing one doesn’t give a good idea of how things are going. Having a group approach to an audit can help with this.

Context Analysis

Introduced already back in the 2015 edition, still a significant number of companies is still struggling with this. In most companies we see that the Quality/Safety department owns this document, while it should be a Management document. If you have a document of course, documentation of this isn’t required. The Quality/Safety managers admit they all do the exercise while the managers should pull more weight to it. On the contrary, there were also quite some professionals that were debating the high-level nature of the context analysis. They noticed the big gap between what is in the context analysis and how the people on the floor experience this. They proposed creating a context analysis for each department or per business unit. This could be a great solution, just don’t make it a heavily business-oriented document.

Management Review

Management Review is another topic where Top Management isn’t pulling their full weight according to most Quality/Safety Managers. The Quality/Safety department creates the document and sends it to Management for approval. We always propose to move to a more data-driven continual Management Review. Create a proper dashboard on which top Management can see the progress. The document can be as small as one A4 and highly actionable. Stop creating piles of paper just for the sake of it.

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