In the Quality Auditing you’ll learn about observation as a technique. Many clues to things being not quite as they seem are available to the watchful auditor. The auditee may be giving the best and most accurate description of their system, but physical evidence within your range of vision may lead to a question which leads to the conclusion that the system is allowing a problem not covered in the procedures.
We have discussed the importance of the audit maintaining a positive approach and not one of a fault-finding exercise. Your observation and vision can alert you to any problems that may be present. Continuing to maintain a positive and open audit allows you stumble upon any issues that are of concern.
As the supervisor of a particular section of the plant walks you through the process he describes when the product is tested and found to be faulty it is put aside for later rework. As you pass through the process line you note some product on a bench waiting for dispatch. Review of records for this product shows it was considered faulty on testing but has accidentally been allocated to a customer. You note there is no system for identifying this material. Without first noticing that material you could not have then asked about it and thus test the system that authorized the continued use.
Process Flows/Audit Trails
Related to the previous example scenario, another technique for audit is to follow the process flow or Audit Trail. This would require the auditor to determine the start, finish and deviation points of a process and follow it through to verify control points and the documented procedures as well as observe any suggestions for improving outcomes of the control points in process flows.
This kind of technique works very well in a lot of activities and industries, particularly, it works well in manufacturing environments where there is a tangible process of making something.
Following the Audit Trail is also very effective in assessing the reliability of a system in delivering outcomes. In this approach an order, a job, a service, or record is tracked through the process chain from beginning to end. An example of this may be in a Purchasing department. You can commence with the incoming request for purchase and follow it right through the order process until the actual purchased goods arrived and are checked that they’re fit for purpose.
Another technique to consider during your audit is assessing or analysing the risk that can occur if activities do not occur as the procedure states or control points are not adhered to or records are not maintained. This technique lends itself to ensuring the right approach to an audit rather than ‘jumping up and down’ when you observe an issue that has not complied with the procedure. The auditor can think about whether the step is necessary in the first place. If it’s not necessary the auditor can simply note it down for a suggestion of procedure change or if it is necessary then the auditor can point it out to the auditee and justify the finding by alerting them to the risk.
Either way, this technique is very useful in ensuring the auditor doesn’t make any enemies. This technique also lends itself to enabling the auditor to consider alternatives rather than keeping ‘the blinkers off’ and focusing just on what the procedure states.
Published by: LMIT