Van Nest, Fred W. (1988, ASQC) Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation, Syracuse, NY
The objective of this paper is to show the experienced auditor how to apply creative new techniques and philosophies to the quality system audit to make the audit process less onerous and more beneficial.
Quality system audits are often considered negatively because they usually emphasize things that are being done incorrectly rather than things that are being done correctly. This paper treats quality problems and audit findings as opportunities for quality and productivity improvements. It uses that concept to transform the quality system audit into a process that will be viewed positively by all participants. Although the techniques described are most useful for audits within a corporate organization (internal audits), some of the techniques are also useful in other types of audits.
Auditors often terminate their investigation of a deficiency as soon as they identify a nonconforming condition. In many cases they have only identified the tip of a much larger iceberg. Specific techniques are given to help quality system auditors continue the investigation and identify opportunities for quality and productivity improvements that lurk beneath the surface.
Auditors sometimes rely on their authority to demand corrective action on their findings. That often results in arguments, loss of respect for the audit process, and inadequate corrective action. The auditor is encouraged to develop and package his findings in a manner that will persuade others to implement appropriate corrective action. Specific techniques to make findings more cogent are also identified.
A positive audit environment is described. Things management should do to enhance and maintain an environment that maximize the benefits from this type of audit are explained.
The paper concludes that, when the techniques are properly utilized, the quality system audit becomes a more enjoyable (or at least less onerous) process for all participants and makes a greater contribution to corporate productivity and profitability.