Given the emphasis on auditing-related topics in the October issue of QP, it reminded me of a thought I had regarding the peculiarity of auditing. I think the following description of auditing is fair, though I admit it does not account for the actual activities and potential value of auditing:
When an audit is performed, a person enters an organization for some period of time and is, for the most part, a relative stranger to those within the organization. Indeed, to some, that person’s lack of familiarity with the organization and its people is crucial and contributes to the objectivity of auditing.
So, what is the task of these strangers? They are supposed to confirm that what you were doing when they weren’t around to really see it happening was what you should have been doing according to some criteria. Surely, this is an odd way for optimal communication to occur.
It is not my intent to denigrate auditing or auditors. I have been trained as an ISO 9000 (TickIT) auditor, as well as in Capability Maturity Model (CMM) and CMM Integration assessment, I worked on the ISO 15504 process assessment standard, and I was trained in a compatible assessment method to that standard.
I have performed audits from the perspective of an internal auditor or someone brought into a company to use auditing or assessment very specifically for process improvement, so I understand what auditing requires. It just strikes me, as I said, as an odd way to reach the truth about a situation.
Except for the programmable logic control (PLC) descriptions, the article "Moving Right Along" (October 2009) has merit. As for the PLC part, I find it amusing. However, it shows the disconnect between machinery manufacturers and end users.
I have been on both sides of the fence, mostly with machinery manufacturing. Being a controls engineer with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, I never could understand how end users look at a control function so simply.
They have no clue what is happening underneath and why it must be that way. To them, it’s a simple task. This is the problem. End users simply want to offload the task to a manufacturer designing a machine for their use, yet they don’t even know what they want.
If the studies in this article were used and practiced by end users in factories, then everyone’s jobs would be better and more efficient. Instead, original equipment manufacturers get vague standards, poor explanations and little input. The end user knows his or her product best. Instead, the equipment is designed and approved, and later the end user says, "I never envisioned it like that," or asks, "Why is that taking so long?"
For once, I would like to see a factory team take the time to study what they really want and need. The end users don’t need to know how to program, but they at least need to be able to say what they want and why. Unfortunately, it’s not something they want to spend time on.