ISO 9001 Auditor Styles
During the audit, there are several styles of questioning that can be used to direct the flow of the audit. Each style has advantages and disadvantages on how the audit style maintains continuity to the audit. If you are an auditor, I recommend using all three styles. If you are an auditee, it is good to be aware that your auditor may use different styles to audit your company. Here is a quick review of the different types of styles.
Follow the standard
This is the most common technique for internal audit. It is also very popular for certification audits. This style of audit is so common because of the use of checklists. Most checklists, including the one on this site, are based on the standard and follow it including the numbering system. When a finding is uncovered, this makes cross-referencing the standard for the audit report a simple matter. Following the standard allows a simple question-and-answer session based on a checklist. This is the simplest style of audit for people with less experience with the standard.
Follow the process audit
For those auditors that have a strong grasp of the standard, they can follow the process from beginning to end. This style of audit is great for the auditee and can make the entire audit flow quickly and smoothly. Starting with the customer order and ending with the shipment of the product. This style is good because most companies have personnel assigned based on the process flow. This allows the auditor to stay with an auditee through their portion of the process and then move to the next step in a logical flow. This biggest disadvantage of this style of audit is cross-referencing any findings back to the appropriate section of the standard.
Open ended questions
Almost every auditor uses this style to interview select employees. My favorite open ended audit question is "Is there an area of the quality system that you think needs improving?" This type question opens the door for employees to give the auditor a direction to look for major flaws in the company’s quality system.
All three styles can be useful for getting the most out of an audit. With a little experience, you can use or survive an audit will all the different types of styles. The best auditors use all three of the styles.