During 25 years of my professional experience, I have passed many Quality audits organized by Certification authorities or by Customer’s representatives. In addition, I have done a number of internal and suppliers Quality audits as well.
I would like to share with you my personal thoughts about Audit process from both sides: as an auditee and as an auditor.
Basically, during my current job as customer’s representative auditor, I try to apply the same approach that I would expect from auditors, as if I were an auditee.
What does it mean ? Here are a few examples acquired during my past and present experiences:
- As an auditee, I do not consider audit as only “necessary evil” that exposes everything what is wrong. It is as well as an opportunity to reveal potential risks and potential improvements, even if it is invisible for an auditee. It is as well a way to highlight strong areas. Same is true from auditor point of view.
- As an auditee, I expect that the auditor fully respects me as a person and that he is open to build long-term relationship. This is mandatory for further cooperation and it has a direct influence on the targets of the audit. Same is valid vice versa.
- As an auditee, I expect that the auditor accepts or at least considers each and every response, record and evidence fairly without any preconception. Same is true for both sides. As an auditor, I expect that the auditee responds to all questions fairly and provides evidence if necessary. This is for sure one of the basic rules of auditing.
- As an auditee, I prefer a dialog with the auditor about particular subjects rather than responding to closed YES / NO questions. From an auditor perspective, I prefer to ask open questions which allow the auditee to explain their process with all interactions, examples and evidences. In case of any findings, I prefer to ask indirectly in order to allow auditee to recognize findings by themselves. Of course, this approach in not applicable under all circumstances.
- As an auditee, I expect from auditor the guidance in case of findings or observations how to meet standard / customer’s requirements. As an auditor, I suggest the auditee how to fulfill requirements based on my knowledge and on my experience. This is very sensitive, so it really depends on relation between them. The auditor’s self-confidence and good knowledge of auditee processes is required in this case for sure.
The audit is generally a stressful moment but all suggestions mentioned above, and many other applicable good practices might be helpful to build pleasant atmosphere during an audit.
I believe that the added value of the audit performed with positive or WIN – WIN approach is much more valuable for both sides.
On the other side, I know the reality of the automotive industry, and that we have to keep in mind the purpose of the audit.
Supplier Quality Developer CEE