It is a question that often stops me in my tracks from time to time. Why would management pay good money for an audit, but then not facilitate the process?
Over the years I have heard some awful stories from students who have told me that in the lead up to an audit on their company, management have read the riot act.
When the auditors get here, tell them nothing! Just answer the questions put to you. It’s their job to find the non-conformance, and move them on to another department as soon as possible!
To me, this type of approach is management by fear in its purest form. I say to clients all the time, why pay good money for an audit and then be the impediment to the delivery of it?
Auditing is just like a health check. I don’t know anyone who would go to the doctor, especially when they knew something wasn’t right and not speak up. The sooner an issue is raised or a problem is discovered, the quicker it can be fixed. It is just the same with auditing.
Management should be looking forward to these health checks. Talk to your staff about how an audit is a great opportunity to uncover any aspects or high risks and to find ways to change and improve. Be open to the auditors. Don’t hide a thing.
It is management’s job to remove any fear about the audit and to reassure how well the organisation is doing and how everyone is delivering great services and/or products. The audit process is an opportunity to see how mature the management systems are and whether the business is meeting the needs of customers and complying with regulatory requirements.
Key Points to Communicate about an Audit
Prior to an audit, I advise management to communicate the following to their staff:
- Any non-conformances are just Action Items that helps us to identify root causes, mitigate risk and drive continuous improvement
- The auditor is not auditing people, but the systems
- Audit is a health check on the business so we can get an accurate picture of our compliance
- Tell the auditor everything, provide an honest responses when asked
These days we are all time poor, so the sooner we find things to fix, the better we all will be. Audits also find and report on strenghts as well as weaknesses. Performed well, an audit provides a great measure of the effectiveness and efficiency of your business operations.