Farrow, John H. (1987, ASQC) Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI
The coefficient of a variable in an equation indicates the magnitude of the affect of that variable in the equation; essentially modifying its effect. In the same manner, a quality audit program can have a positive amplifying effect on both the management and quality variables in the equation for excellence. Conversely, lack of a viable quality audit program may have a seriously detrimental or negative effect on the results of management and quality efforts.
Because the quality audit verifies that management policies and directives are being implemented, it is an excellent tool for management control. Properly conducted audits emphasize the more important aspects of policy and directives. They also insure that such policies and directives are properly interpreted. An improperly designed audit program or no audit program at all may lead to confusion in the interpretation of management desires. This may result in harmful conflict or, at minimum, inefficient and ineffective use of resources.
The audit serves as a two-way feedback system completing two vital information loops. First, it gives feedback to management as to what is actually happening. This enables top management to exercise the necessary control based on fact, not some misinformed notion as to what is occurring. Second, it gives feedback to those at other levels concerning their performance. It indicates areas where management desires are not being met and which, thus, require improvement. However, the good audit also indicates areas where management goals are being met or exceeded, giving the reinforcement necessary to insure continuance.
There is a great amount of truth to the expression that everyone is responsible for quality. However, it is also true that in many cases, where a number of people share a responsibility, some of them may neglect their responsibilities assuming that those responsibilities belong to others. The quality audit gives top management the necessary tool to insure that all concerned are doing their part.
Even though quality is everyone's job, specific areas of action must be delineated with assigned responsibility. The audit furnishes vehicle to insure that all of the specific areas are covered.
As companies move to automatic inspection, the role of quality auditing as a vital part of quality assurance will become more important in the universal equation for excellence.