How to be audited by an external ISO auditor
Just before every external audit, the organization can train all the employees on how to be successfully audited. This can be included with the quality and ISO awareness training that should be part of the organization annual ritual.
The focus of the "how to be audited" training is to reduce the stress for everyone, optimize the results of the audit, and assure that the basic information is on the tip of the employees tongue. Here the 7 points that I usually review for this presentation:
1. Know The Company Quality Philosophy
Everyone should know the company quality statement and objectives.
"Exceed the customer’s expectations" or whatever.
2. Know Who Is The Company Quality Representative
Everyone should know who to go to with an ISO quality problem.
3. Know The Difference Between Internal Vs. External Auditor
Internal auditors are working to improve the quality system and employees should feel free to direct the auditor to any flaws in the system or any non-conformances to the company procedures.
External auditor are also working to improve the quality system by it can be very costly for the company if the external auditor finds major flaws or repetitive minor flaws in the quality system. Please do not volunteer too much information to external auditors.
4. Know The Difference Between Major and Minor Findings
The audit will result in either major or minor findings. A Minor finding indicates that something was found that is not in compliance with the standard or company documentation. Most companies will get a dozen or so minor findings. No matter how hard you work, you will still probably have minor findings. Auditors must find something to justify themselves and show continuous improvement. They will just keep digging until they find something. Don’t worry about the number of unrelated minor findings.
Major findings are a big deal but are not catastrophic. They mean that the company could not provide evidence that there is a system in place or many similar minor findings were grouped together to show a systematic quality system failure. A major finding will require the return of the auditor(s) to confirm the problem is solved. This extra audit is additional cost, can delay the certification paperwork, and put the registrar on notice that you may be a slack company. In general, it opens a can of worms that you really want closed.
5. Know When To Shut Up
When in doubt, refer the auditor to a higher-level person like a manager or quality representative. Don’t bumble your way into a major finding by talking to much. You can also tell the external auditor you will get back to them later if you cannot give a good answer or find a document that he is requesting. It is always better to say "I can’t give you the answer right now" than "it doesn't exist."
6. Know That Every task is Performed By Qualified OR Trained Person.
1. If you have done similar work at another time or job, you are qualified (and your employee record should confirm that you are have the experience).
2. You have been trained and there is a training record to prove that you have been trained.
7. Know That In general, The Company Has A Procedure For Everything
Although some activities are done by qualified personnel who do not need a procedure, the bulk of the processes at the company will have a procedures. These processes will require controlled documents to control the quality. Un-controlled documentation cannot be used for production. Do not let an auditor find an un-controlled document. If you can not find a document, refer the auditor to a higher level person but do not say it does not exist.