Posted: 03 Oct 2013 12:37 PM PDT
For over 30 years I've been responsible for business processes ranging from Research and Development to Customer Feedback, in companies which report turnover in billions of dollars.
I've spent the second half of my career in quality management. I know how processes are designed, resourced, implemented, examined and confirmed.
I know about legal requirements, industrial standards and moral/ethical decision making.
For a time I was responsible for assuring that nineteen manufacturing sites and research centres as well as dozens of contract manufacturers and hundreds of suppliers did the right things: followed defined and approved processes to specify, order, receive, make, release, store, deliver, service and improve products.
I've conducted, reviewed and responded to many audits. Audits are required by most quality-related regulations and standards. Audits are especially powerful when conducted by skilled auditors.
Meetings during the course of an audit
During audits it's customary for the auditors to hold an opening meeting on day one, debrief meetings at the end of each day and a closing meeting on the last day to summarize all issues. By the time of the closing meeting, all auditees and their managers will know what 'non-conformances' are likely to be included in the auditors' report, and the severity rating for each non-conformance. They will therefore be unsurprised by the final report.
The severity ratings used in most organizations can be mapped to levels similar to these: critical ('fix it within a week'), major ('fix it within 3 months'), minor ('fix it within 6 months') and opportunity-for-improvement ('do it when you've done the other things').
Good department managers
Over the years I have found that good department managers not only welcome audits. They keep the spectre of audit before their subordinates and peers all the time. They insist that their people co-operate fully with auditors. They use audit results to make changes – of people, processes and procedures.
Good department managers understand and accept that every audit will find issues. They are eager to know the issues and to "close the audit findings."
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