Know Your Stuff
Janet Lentz
139 Posts

This was an actual conversation between me and a lead ISO 9001 auditor sent by a registrar to audit my employer’s QMS:

External Auditor: “That’s a non-conformance.”

Me: “No, it isn’t.”

External Auditor: “It’s an ISO 9001 requirement.”

Me: “No, it isn’t.”

External Auditor: “Yes, it is.”

Me (handing him a copy of the standard): “Show me.”

External Auditor: “Oh. I guess it isn’t.”

When you work as a Quality professional, it’s critically important to know your stuff, including every single requirement imposed on your QMS and how you comply. As you can see, having a comprehensive knowledge not only of my quality system but also of ISO 9001 saved me (more than once) from having to respond to nonsense nonconformance findings.

Auditors are human too. They can be wrong just like everyone else. And they don’t know your QMS like you do. Quality Managers who meekly accept incorrect judgements about a QMS are doomed to “fix” problems that really don’t exist. If your auditor is a good one, they will listen to your rationale for what you are doing and move on if they can’t demonstrate actual nonconformity. By the same token, be open to what your auditor is saying and honest about problems they uncover. Remember you are paying them to verify conformity and help you improve.