When is an Audit not an Audit?

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audit iso9001:2015 QHSE

When you decide to become ISO certified you go through a series of steps and the certification body you choose also goes through a series of steps. Some companies hire a QA or QHSE Manager to undertake this task whereas others bring in outside help. The path you choose really depends upon your budget and how much time you are able to spend on writing processes, policies, procedures, job descriptions, conducting audits, writing reports, performing an audit, etc.

The consultant and certification body you choose have a huge impact on the integrity and robustness of your system.

Internal and 3rd Party audits serve two purposes. The audit by the Certification Body is obviously to get the certificate. The initial internal audit is to ensure that the QMS/QHSE system is ready for the 3rd party audit and subsequent audits ensure that the system maintains its integrity.

This is where 3rd party auditors play a key role. If 3rd party auditors do a bad job during audits it sends the wrong message to the companies’ management and internal auditors. A bad audit may take place because (1) the auditor is inexperienced in the industry he is auditing, (2) he generally lacks audit experience or (3) it’s deliberate. It is the latter that is the most worrying and is what I like to call a ‘fake audit’.

So what happens during these fake audits? Here are the signs to look for:

1.     The consultant comes with a 2 in 1 package, i.e. get the consultancy and the certificate for one fee. In essence, well known Certification Bodies’ fees are not cheap for a reason and these are separate from the consultant’s fees.

2.     A certificate is issued without an actual audit; maybe just after a meeting or a desktop audit.

3.     If the auditor does turn up and conducts an audit, obvious major or numerous minor non-conformities are ignored. In other words non-conformities are not issued when they should be.

4.     The Auditor says one thing to the Management Representative and another to the company management.

5.     Instead of focussing on the audit, the auditor spends more time complaining about his job and wishing he worked in a company like yours. This might give an indication as to why he is being soft.

Therefore, it’s worth remembering that not all certificates are the same.

This article has been written by Birjees Hussain

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