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Quality System Auditor Qualification

Discussion in 'ISO 19011 - Auditing Management Systems Guidelines' started by Chris Glover, Dec 1, 2015.

  1. Chris Glover

    Chris Glover Active Member

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    What "qualifications" does your organization require for someone to be qualified to conduct quality system audits?

    We are currently reviewing our procedure and required qualifications and are having questions as to what qualifications (if any) are required for someone to conduct QMS audits.

    Our current procedure states: A person who has successfully passed the requirements of a Quality systems auditing course conducted by an organization with RAB, IQA, IATF or equivalent certification.

    While this is, probably, best practice, is it really required?
     
  2. Andy Nichols

    Andy Nichols Moderator Staff Member

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    No Chris. What's needed is someone who is competent to perform your audits. Competency means demonstrating skills and knowledge - and you get to decide what that is. Of course, it's common to send people to some form of training, but be very careful. I have seen, over 16+ years of running such courses, people who are "book smart", but lack a lot of the other skills needed to be an effective auditor. Often people lack empathy and awareness of what's going on around them etc. They can recite ISO clauses backwards but have little true insights into business practices and so on.

    A worthwhile read is ISO 19011 for the personal attributes etc (but not much else, IMHO) to help build your competency criteria.
     
  3. Chris Glover

    Chris Glover Active Member

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    We are reviewing ISO 19011 as part of the process. We do want to make sure there is an understanding of the requirements, the process approach, and how the organization functions.
     
  4. RoxaneB

    RoxaneB Moderator Staff Member

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    While I applaud the intent of understanding the requirements, etc., sending people away on an external course can be expensive and there is still a learning curve when they return (i.e., the whole "how does what I learned apply to us?" learning curve). Personally, I prefer the approach of having a few key individuals trained externally (in case one of them wins the lottery and retires) who then develop an internal course - this can still allow for an understanding of the requirements, etc., but they can also tailor examples and applications specific to the company and/or industry. This lessens the learning curve.
     
  5. Chris Glover

    Chris Glover Active Member

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    That might just be the route we take..

    This come to the surface when we audited the auditing process and realized the auditor was not qualified to do the audit based on the requirements in our auditing procedure! (no non-conformance was written...)
     
  6. Randy A. Kaczynski

    Randy A. Kaczynski Member

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    Typically, we team a newly (externally) trained auditor with an experienced (lead) auditor to perform audits together to serve as continuing training while gaining experience. We are presently creating documented information to make our requirements more specific. Here's what we are considering -

    Formal training (Initial)
    Must complete/pass appropriate training course(s) addressing both understanding ISO 9001 & auditing to ISO 9001 (offered by an approved outside provider or an approved in-house training course)

    Auditors-in-training (Prior to being fully qualified)
    - Must follow a qualified auditor as an observer for minimum of one audit.
    - Must be a team auditor under the direction of a lead auditor for minimum of one audit.
    - Must acceptably lead a minimum of one audit, with an experienced qualified auditor.
    - The auditor-in-training must competently follow all aspects of the internal audit process.

    Continual professional development of auditors (On-going)
    Auditors should develop, maintain and improve their competence through
    - continual professional development (refresher & new training), and
    - regular participation in audits (minimum one audit/year, either as lead or team auditor).
     
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  7. Golfman25

    Golfman25 Well-Known Member

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    And here is where you can get into "trouble." If you have updated certificates for all of your auditors it would be really hard to support a finding relating to lack of training/competence. It an easy one for the lazy auditor -- "certs look good." Without it, then more questions get asked and there is more room for auditor judgment and bias. In most cases you should be fine, but sooner or later you will get "that" auditor.
     
  8. Andy Nichols

    Andy Nichols Moderator Staff Member

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    We really have to stop doing things to satisfy CB auditors! If you do the right thing for the organization - because you understand what you did, why and how it's working (well), there should be no problem. It's only when you get the perfect storm of not knowing WHY you did something and why it works for you that you get into such debates with goofball auditors.
     
  9. Chris Glover

    Chris Glover Active Member

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    You must have never dealt with Honda auditors...
     
  10. Golfman25

    Golfman25 Well-Known Member

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    I agree 100% but sometimes you need to pick your battles.
     
  11. Andy Nichols

    Andy Nichols Moderator Staff Member

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    Different kettle of fish! Customer auditors will be whatever they chose. There's less control over their competencies than a CB has. Those who like to throw CB auditors under the bus (And I am happy to do that when justified, to "improve the breed") would do well to experience some customers' auditors...
     
  12. Andy Nichols

    Andy Nichols Moderator Staff Member

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    Shouldn't BE a battle. If you have a combative CB auditor, show them the door! YOU are the CUSTOMER
     
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  13. Jennifer Kirley

    Jennifer Kirley Moderator Staff Member

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    In all cases the organization gets to decide what it expects from its personnel, including auditors. Technical subject matter can be learned in an accredited course, but an effective auditor can also serve the organization with interpersonal and administrative skills. This same triad of competencies is arguably needed by successful IT administrators, managers of quality, environmental and safety systems, engineering department managers... on and on goes the list of places where we need more than technical subject matter understanding.

    The extent to which you define, pursue and enforce that is up to you; CB auditors have little, if any right to do more than issue a nonconformity if you have not established/met competency expectations. If a CB auditor looks at a sloppy, slap-dash bunch of evidence that suggests incompetence, we might decide there's incompetency, but we might be wrong because there could be other issues like lack of support from management.

    A good accredited course should include some exercises in developing plans, interviewing and analyzing evidence, but results will be sure to vary. It may be enough to get such training on a different standard and exhibit understanding of the target standard in a different way, like I did. There is also ASQ certification for Auditor, which is good for technical knowledge but is no help with interviewing skills. Many of my clients therefore also have supervised audits, and/or have new auditors serve as co-auditors while they get more experience and confidence.
     
  14. Chris Glover

    Chris Glover Active Member

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    Not just competencies...but requirements..and their interpretation of their own (ever-changing) rules and requirements
     
  15. MCW8888

    MCW8888 Well-Known Member

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    This is what we do. There's one externally trained auditor who then conduct internal auditor training on-site.
     
  16. Andy Nichols

    Andy Nichols Moderator Staff Member

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    Is one of the defined competencies for the externally trained auditor to be able to train the internal auditors? I ask because some folk can "do", but they are hopeless at training others!
     
  17. MCW8888

    MCW8888 Well-Known Member

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    Absolutely Andy. The externally trained auditor is certified as Lead Auditor, pass the test and case studies and in turn must conduct the process audit to its intent. It will be a challenge because the 2008 has not really done a good job defining the process audit. Effectiveness was just a concept, now it is enforced.
     
  18. Andy Nichols

    Andy Nichols Moderator Staff Member

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    I understand, however, as previously posted, a LA course doesn't automatically make you a "trainer"...:oops:

    BTW I'm not at all sure that I would agree about effectiveness. It's been in there since 2000 - the ability to meet spec and objectives shows effectiveness. The process approach I'd agree - somewhat - because you don't HAVE to audit a process (every time). If you are struggling with doing process based audits, have you seen my articles on that? It's in my book, too.
     
  19. MCW8888

    MCW8888 Well-Known Member

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    Please send me a copy of your article and the title of your book. There is always room for improvement. Thanks.
     
  20. Andy Nichols

    Andy Nichols Moderator Staff Member

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