Craftsman's Cribsheet: Ideas for a Quality Audit Program

Is it becoming a cumbersome fact-collection process without a whole lot of difference or creativity between audits?

You meet all of the requirements of the standard with your audit program, but is it becoming a cumbersome fact collection process without a whole lot of difference or creativity between audits? Here are a baker’s dozen of tips to take your audit program to the next level of excellence:

1.  Reaffirm the purpose of your audits with all internal auditors. 

2.  Reiterate to the team that audits are not a game of “gotcha” with fellow workers. Improvement, not blame, is the purpose of your audits. 
 
3.  Be sure that Top Management understands that the organization should not be concerned with the number of nonconformances found in the audit. When an issue is identified, it presents the opportunity to improve the process. 
 
4.  Take digital pictures of nonconforming issues, not people. Get a shot of the incorrect label, the dated micrometer, the improperly staged material, the incomplete documentation and the outdated procedure. 
 
5.  Speak with as many people on the floor as possible during your audits. 
 
6.  Document the names of all the people that you speak with on a page that lists name, title and position. This approach makes the team more visible, and it shows that the same people are not always targeted come audit time.
 
7.  Use the audit team as an additional means to gauge the effectiveness of training. 
 
8.  Select a random person or two from each department and review their training records. Select a procedure they have been trained to do and verify that they are performing the task in accordance with the documentation.
 
9.  Be more inclusive in your opening and closing meetings. Insist on additional participants from the floor. This makes more people aware of the purpose and scope of the audit. A sign-in sheet is evidence of participation, and a script of your review is evidence of the awareness provided. 
 
10.  Show the pictures of the violations. Put the photos in a PowerPoint format so that the attendees at the closing meeting can get a clear visual. 
 
11.  Have a top management representative speak at the closing meeting. 
 
12.  Restate that nonconformance issues are process, not people issues, and the organization is committed to ensuring the processes are corrected. 
 
13.  Use quality boards to post the output from your audits. Include the findings, the people you spoke with, and the digital pictures. This process bolsters the evidence of your internal communication efforts. A visual display of these issues provides an additional reminder of the need to be compliant with established processes and the need to prevent reoccurrences.
 
The audit is a perfect opportunity to ensure all people in your plant are aware of the progress you are making. Mix it up. Keep your audits fresh and interesting for all parties involved.