It’s audit week. Everyone is slightly stressed without wanting to admit it. Tensions rise in the office as the reality of the day draws near. What if the ISO auditor choses my department this year? Will we get the same auditor, or will this year be a more difficult one? How do we know if we’ve got everything covered?
Not the kind of thing that you want to be wasting your brain power on when you’ve got sales targets to meet. For some companies, it puts them off a third-party accredited quality system altogether!
The more ISO audits we attend at Qualiform, the more we realise how beneficial they are. There’s really no reason to get het-up and here’s a few reasons why.
Dispelling the fear
Firstly, we need to address the fear and explain why it shouldn’t be there. Many companies view an external auditor as some kind of alien from outer space that has magical powers to create quality issues that you didn’t know you had. Therefore, there is a belief that they are to be bowed to as some superior power – BUT THEY ARE ACTUALLY HUMAN BEINGS LIKE YOU AND ME. Auditors that we have dealt with over the years at Qualiform, turn out to be just as nervous as you are (which is sometimes why they come across as a bit frosty!). So look after them as you would do if a customer was visiting your premises and very soon you’ll be getting along fine.
Another aspect to dispelling the fear is that the auditors are not coming with the intention of closing down your business and making life difficult for you. They are there to prove that you do comply with the standard, not that you don’t! So, change your own mind-set about the ISO audit and understand that the auditor is there with the best intentions for you.
The benefits you can get
Audits are a bit like an exam where you don’t just get a result, but you get told what you did right and wrong at the end. In fact, you usually get told all the way through what’s good and what needs improvement. When you’re wrapped up in the day to day running of the business, it’s so easy to miss opportunities to streamline your processes and make them more fail safe but someone coming in from outside to examine it invariably suggests something you may not have thought of.
Auditors visit many businesses in a year – from 5 employee companies up to multi-nationals. Whilst they aren’t allowed to give advice or tell you what to do, they have a huge amount of experience and may be able to mention things that have worked in other companies without compromising confidentiality.
To get more benefit, Qualiform always suggests you make use of the auditor whilst they’re on site. Treat them like a colleague and share your own concerns. They are genuinely there to help – very few take delight in not issuing a certificate so don’t be afraid to work with them in this way.
Hopefully this helps get you through some of the anxiety associated with the ISO audit. At Qualiform, we can help with your internal audits prior to the main audit being carried out and this is another way to relieve the pressure from the big event. If you’d like to discuss the detail of these services, please contact us on 01472 730530.