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Quality Auditors Are Not Always Welcome.

By Janet Lentz posted 02/29/24 02:37 AM


Quality auditors are not always welcome.

My experience has been that even in the most quality-centric organizations, internal audits are not particularly enjoyed by participants. Audits take valuable time out of someone’s day, are by their very nature judgmental, and let’s face it, often don’t lead to any kind of real improvement. Internal audits have been baked into ISO 9001 and its derivatives for decades, probably because if it weren’t no one would do them. Unfortunately if you’re not careful internal audits can quickly become a “check the box” activity. 

Quality professionals understand the power of internal auditing. Done well it can be a powerhouse for eliminating waste and reducing risk. But getting to that point can feel like a hopeless, uphill slog. If internal audits have not been successful in the past, convincing employees that they can be is difficult. And unless you’re lucky enough to have a large quality department focused on QA, you probably have to pull internal auditors from other departments, train and manage them. Let the excuses begin!

To develop a truly successful internal audit program, Quality professionals need to leverage the skills that make them great auditors: developing solid, trusting relationships with key players, cultivating outstanding written and verbal communication skills, keenly observing the organizational political landscape, demonstrating flexibility and fairness.

Don’t give up on your internal audit program. Finding what works best in your organization will take time. It will take a willingness to fail and some creative solutions. I learned how organizations worked more through internal auditing than any other way. I found auditing interesting and fun. Often I was the only person who really understood the management system as whole, and there were times when that was a huge advantage. One great thing about auditing is it generates data over time. When you can show your organization is improving, attitudes towards internal auditing change for the better.