Thursday, August 7, 2008

Audit Tips -- Feed the Auditor!

In the July edition of Quality Progress, Joe Kausek wrote a very informative piece called "10 Auditing Rules." Here they are:

1. Make auditees feel like members of the audit team.

2. Start the evaluation by asking general, open-ended questions, then use clarifying questions to fill in the gaps.

3. Be an active listener.

4. Never let the auditee pick the samples.

5. Always try to identify any real effects of your findings, using dollar values when available.

6. Always confirm your findings with the auditee.

7. Don't go looking for nits (administrative finding that has no real impact on the performance of the management system).

8. Provide sufficient background information in your write-ups to allow the auditee to understand both waht was found and what the requirement is.

9. When citing areas of strength, be specific.

10. Feed the auditor.

This is a great list! Let me expand on #10 just a bit. Joe is reminding us not to forget to plan lunch. If the audit is offsite, will you have a working lunch? Will the auditee take you out? Do you have time? Seems simple, I know, but often forgotten. Strangely, this point is more important than ever in China!!

Often, when auditing a Chinese company, the auditee will plan for an elaborate and lengthy lunch. I won't comment on the motivation -- hospitality, stalling the auditor, getting the auditor drunk? During my time in China as Director of Engineering, I was often supervising audits, not on the actual audit team (though I have done plenty of work on audit teams as well). I would often play the role of decoy -- or designated drinker. I would convince the company owner that he and I (and maybe some other members of the management team) should go to lunch, but that we should leave the audit team in the capable hands of his quality manager, or engineering manager. This would often satisfy two requirements -- satisfying the owners desire (requirement) to demonstrate his hospitality, while allowing the audit team to maintain the audit schedule. Let me add a subrule:

10b. When auditing in China, consider the use of a designated drinker to have lunch with the factory owner!

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