Getting Ready for an ISO External Audit
Vol.6 Issue 3
World map background with hand touching the electronic word audit.

The International Organization for Standards (ISO) 9001:2015 external audit has been rescheduled!

Relax, yes relax you’ll be fine. The purpose of the audit is to find out how our Business Management System is working for the organization. Are we conducting business as our written guidance says we are? If not, what’s the worst that can happen? The organization (AMC) will receive a non-conformance? It feels bad, but if you look at it as medicine that will help your system function better, then it’s not so bad. Most medicine tastes bad going down but helps you do better in the long run. Non-conformities are a part of the standard. Believe it or not, we use them to drive a positive change in behavior toward process improvement.

Having an audit when we return to business as usual is an excellent way to discover how well your system functions throughout the year. Our current situation is only the next event that will carry on, as another will replace it in the near future. There will always be a situation: vacations, illnesses, and emergencies. Do you stop shipping products or servicing your customers when that happens? Obviously not; you would want your system’s gears turning irrespective of employee absences. Of course, if a lot of employees are missing, things may not get done as effectively or as quickly as when the assignees perform the tasks. But we should not stop producing products or services to the customer because a key individual is absent.

So what do you do during an ISO audit?

  • Answer questions honestly and to the point.
  • Make the auditor feel comfortable and at ease.
  • Be confident, you are the expert here, the auditor may be familiar with your industry but not your process.
  • Direct the auditor to other personnel if the question pertains to them, rather than trying to answer something incorrectly.
  • Do not go into long explanations and topics that may be unrelated to the auditor’s question.
  • Try not to be nervous.
  • Do not speak unprofessionally about the organization or other employees. It only reflects badly on our organization and it does not add any points to your audit.
  • Be cooperative, friendly and courteous.
  • If you referenced something, make sure your evidence is there.

Let’s look at it this way:

  • An audit is a review of our process (Business Management System) to consistently meet our measured objectives, Key Process Indicators (KPIs).
  • Our objective is for the actions and activities that we perform to achieve the measured goals (Business Plans) of AMC top management.
  • We measure (Survey) and monitor (internally audit) our performance at achieving each of our objectives.
  • We analyze that data (Non-conformities) to determine how we can improve the process.
  • We monitor and report our performance of these activities quarterly as part of the Management Review.
  • Yes, the process is really that easy.

So welcome the auditors, let them do their job and see what feedback they generate. Anything they find is fixable; it’s your system! Anything they find is an opportunity to fix things before the customer finds it! So don’t dread the audit. Be enthusiastic about the opportunities to improve your system, and about the new ideas that can be generated by the audit.

Finally, for you sports fans looking for some stats. This will be our 10th external audit. Our record is currently 9-0.

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