This is part 3 of my series of radically reviewing ISO9001 for the 21st century. In this post I continue my discussion on how to improve the Quality Audit function in an ISO9001 company. My editorial comments are in [square brackets].
Support [of the system]
Internal Audits contain another opportunity for improvement in this new perception of the ISO9001 standard. Being an internal auditor is not an easy task as detailed by Karr & Klemens (2011). The main reason for the difficulties are due to a company culture that pre-disposes employees to consider an internal audit as, at best, a nuisance and, at worst, a waste of time. A simple change of terminology and work method could change this perception of Internal Audit and lend it a renewed air of respectability and value. The change in terminology would be from “Internal Audit” to “Internal Assessment” and the change in work method would be from an impartial evaluator to a cooperative consultant. The new terminology for the auditor him/herself would be “Internal Consultant”. When coupled with the previously described real-time assessment these simple changes would help improve compliance with the standard and the working conditions of the consultants. An assessment would be conducted in a similar fashion as the current audit but would be different at the time of the closing meeting. Having identified the gaps in the department’s activities compared to the standard the consultant would then meet with the functional head and discuss the corrective actions together. Rather than make an audit report and move on to the next area the consultant would remain engaged with the manager and actively support the creation and implementation of the corrective actions. This type of knowledge sharing often happens informally with the current method without recognition of this value from higher management (Alic & Borut, 2011). The new method would acknowledge the value brought by the consultant and when combined with full functional manager responsibility for the QMS will lead to the functional managers requesting support from the consultants rather than dreading their approach. [Assuming that] ISO9001 is a strategic decision by the management of the company this improvement of knowledge sharing and internal cooperation will lead to improved business performance.
Alic, M.; Borut, R. (2011). Managerial relevance of internal audit. The TQM Journal 23(3).
Karr, J. & Klemens, P. (2011). When quality needs an audit. Journal of GXP Compliance 15(4).