The trouble with auditing is the pre-conceptions. Auditing is widely seen as a punishment. In 10 years of conducting both internal and supplier audits, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard:
“Supplier x isn’t performing, we need to audit them”
“Department Y isn’t following the process, let’s audit to make them”
Or, even from my own teams:
“I can’t do that, what will happen if I get audited?”
(see my blog post on project specific governance frameworks)
Time and again, we fail to understand that an audit is a snapshot. It won’t find every problem, and the result is entirely dependent on what we audit against.
Don’t get me wrong, an audit is a powerful tool, but as auditors and quality professionals, we can make it more powerful by challenging the pre-conceptions. Start by asking if it’s the right tool – what are we trying to achieve? For example, with our supplier performance, might we be better placed using our root cause analysis tools to understand why they aren’t performing?
As modern quality professionals, we can change this narrative. Instead of asking “what can I audit?” with the aim of changing what people do, try asking “how can I change my audit to add value to my business?”.
For example, my supplier audit shouldn’t wait until something goes wrong and everyone is stressed over programme and budget. If I use it at the start of a contract, I can focus on risk and help put mitigations in place.
We can make audit a forward looking, preventative tool and break the pre-conceptions of a punitive, corrective one.
The trouble with auditing is how and what we audit…