When To Argue With An External Auditor
During a routine external certification or maintenance audit, the auditor will uncover findings. That is what they are paid to do. These finding can be separated into 3 groups: major findings, minor findings with a simple solution, and minor finding with a difficult solution. Each situation require a different strategy.
If an auditor is threatening a major finding then, right or wrong, you should argue too the death. At this point, you have nothing else to loose. You will probably to ask for another auditor for future audits so the usually cooperative relationship is already on the rocks. Since major finding are expensive for the company, I would try everything to stop this event.
Minor Findings With A Simple Solution
Don't waste you time arguing this findings. In fact, this is a great time to be gracious and establish a good rapport with the auditor. You don't want to argue every little finding and you can use this opportunity to show that you can take criticism and stay optimistic. If you argue your way out of this finding, the auditor may give up on that issue but dig deeper in another area where the solution may not be so difficult. Keep in mind that most auditor are expected to find some problems to help continuously improve your quality system. The best audit is only findings with simple solutions. Give them a bone and they will can your life easier.
Minor Finding With A Difficult Solution
At this point you must make a decision as to the validity of the finding. Maintaining a cooperative relationship with the auditor should be the highest priority. It could be wise to argue to verbiage or depth of the finding to minimize the effort required to fix the problem. If you know that your have other weak areas that were not found during the audit, you may want to consider yourself lucky and just take the finding with grace.