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CB, Company and NC's

Discussion in 'Registrars (Certification Bodies) & Registration' started by Somashekar, Oct 16, 2015.

  1. Somashekar

    Somashekar Moderator Staff Member

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    In our recent CB audit, we were issued few NC, all of which appeared to be interpretation of the auditor, as there were no real weight-age in them to our company. This impression was also shared by the auditor, however what was inferred from the open discussions had, it appeared that CB’s expected an audit output to have one or few NC. As we have many experts here from the CB, I felt to open this discussion here to understand what stance the CB takes and what guidelines are made to auditors.

    If a company QMS is steady and well performing, and changes managed to the depth and extent depending upon the effects of the change (5.4.2) are the auditors uncomfortable to give a clean slate to the company? In the disguise of continual improvement, are they directed to pick and give a few NC at least? When an auditor feels based on his background and experience, that some opportunities exist for improvement, are they directed to post a picked few into NC. Are they trained to see a risk to the extent of a NC, at every such stage where they expect that something will not be performed if it is not documented?

    Many of you seasoned auditors may be a new auditor to a well established company, which has been with your CB organization from long, and the audit trend shows good QMS establishment, with no NC in the last few years. If you also find the same, will you be comfortable to write a clean slate or are you expected that being a new auditor, you may have to search out for writing up a few NC.
     
  2. Sidney Vianna

    Sidney Vianna Well-Known Member

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    Any (lead) auditor who starts an audit with a preconceived notion that a few nonconformities are expected as an outcome of the audit has failed his/her duty of being objective and unbiased. If any CB has a policy which guides it's auditors NEVER to perform an audit without a "few NC's" to be reported, they are certainly in violation of basic audit codes and ethics.
     
    Jennifer Kirley and Somashekar like this.
  3. Andy Nichols

    Andy Nichols Moderator Staff Member

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    The dilemma that is faced is this: When auditors write no non-conformities, it is suspected that they are not doing their job. With increasing pressure coming from various parts of industry, CBs are putting pressure on their auditors to show that they did their job - one measure of which is the output of non-conformities reports - and remember it's no longer acceptable to create "observations" which read like a minor grade NC etc. Increasingly, major players who use the certification industry to replace their own SQA function, expect - IMHO - the CB auditor to act more and more like the SQA does/did. And they tended to write findings on all manner of issues, not all of which were germane to the process/product/contract etc. It's really - once again in my opinion - mission creep from the original purpose of a certified QMS.

    That said, it doesn't provide an escape clause for an ineffectual auditor to do superficial audits, and create bogus reports based on bias and subjectivity. The actual findings still have to have merit as a non-conformity and not "could have/should have/would have" type reports. IF the auditors have been systematic in their approach to looking at the company's performance, changes and so on, followed the trails appropriately and investigated to the depth necessary to test the robustness of the QMS, then that will appear in the body of the report and justifies the "no nc" result. I rather doubt, however, many auditors have the perspicacity to be capable of such an audit...
     
    Somashekar likes this.
  4. RoxaneB

    RoxaneB Moderator Staff Member

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    If the findings are based on interpretation and not the actual black-and-white of the standard, I would fight the findings and start the process of looking for a new CB and/or request a new auditor. If the CB questions why, I would state, quite simply, that the findings were based on a biased interpretation and added no value to the Quality Management System.

    When I first ventured into the world of QMS and ISO, many auditors (internal and external) appeared to have the belief that something must always be found. This is one of the reasons why, in my opinion, ISO 9001 is considered to be a piece of a paper on the wall and little more.

    Thankfully, my own auditing skills have evolved beyond the "shark on the scent of blood" or witchhunt mentality, and my notes clearly indicate the robustness and maturity of system (i.e., supporting the lack of any findings). I also train auditors in this approach.

    Audits are synonymous with punishment and finger-pointing...however, I like to use them as a communication tool for highlighting strengths and benchmark performance. I've also been fortunate enough, over recent years, to have worked with external auditors - assessing to various standards, not just ISO-based ones - who have a similar philosophy. We believe that audits and assessments have a primary objective to recognize excellence within a system...their secondary objectives are to highlight opportunities and identify nonconformances/gaps.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2015
  5. Jennifer Kirley

    Jennifer Kirley Moderator Staff Member

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    I agree with the comments so far. :cool: My CB does track an average of how many NCs we auditors issue per day but insists there is no quota. :rolleyes: That said, there was recently a caution to avoid a long list of OFIs when no NCs are issued, as our own audit by ANAB raised a question of soft grading.

    If you believe the NCs do not pass the test of:

    1) Accurate
    2) Clearly articulated
    3) Applicable to the standard and/or your own procedures
    4) Actionable

    ...then I would certainly consider the dispute process. Like kids and puppies, if auditors get something wrong we should be told right away. Also, if enough people dispute what ends up to be nonsensical NCs then the CB can (I hope) review their apparently random expectations for NCs written at each visit.

    The perception of value is another question. I am guessing your organization has not yet transitioned to the 2015 version. Until you do, then relevance is not something we could argue if #1 and #3 are true. Without having present I'm afraid this is the best I can offer right now.
     
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