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Root Cause for Auditor/Client Interpretation Issues

Discussion in 'ISO 19011 - Auditing Management Systems Guidelines' started by Golfman25, Nov 8, 2015.

  1. Golfman25

    Golfman25 Well-Known Member

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    Since there are many ways to comply to the various requirements of ISO/TS, how do you deal with issues of auditor interpretation. It is the constant struggle between "doing it like everyone else" and doing what is beneficial to your company. "Reasonable" minds can disagree.

    So you read the standard and develop a system you believe complies with a section. It may even "pass" a few audits. The new auditor disagrees. He says tomato, you say tomaaato. You thus receive a non-conformance. So how do you do root cause and a corrective action when you basically have a difference of opinion?
     
  2. Emmyd

    Emmyd Member

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    Can you provide some specifics? We had an auditor like that last year. Earlier in the year he had a witnessed audit at our sister facility, when he came back to us it was a whole new ballgame. When he got to our facility, he found 2 major nonconformances on essentially differences of opinion (and because he didn't like "our" system - we were too low tech for him). We responded to the NC's and requested that another auditor return to review the corrective actions. This auditor told us that the other auditor was really reaching in his findings.
     
  3. Golfman25

    Golfman25 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks. I am a little hesitant to provide specifics yet as "these wall have ears" so to speak.

    But I am curious how you responded to those differences of opinion in a root cause analysis. How is the root cause anything but the root cause that "you disagree" and the corrective action accepting the auditor's interpretation, which as it turned out for you was a reach?
     
  4. Andy Nichols

    Andy Nichols Moderator Staff Member

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    The root cause is the auditor cannot and must not use their biases and what they have seen before. Having established that you a) have established a management system and b) that it complies with the requirements, the audit becomes one of 1) demonstrating processes are in control and 2) processes are performing to established objectives. After that, the auditor - if they can't use objective evidence and a specified requirement (from your own management system, or to some extent the actual standard) - is simply auditing by opinion. At which point you a) halt the audit, b) advise them that you will terminate the audit if they continue to audit to their opinion (or lack of objectivity) and c) that you will be calling the CB's management and filing a complaint.

    Once again, depending on the hiring model the CB uses (I know one which has some pretty loose entry qualifications) they may not know their auditor that well. It will fall to you to report to them the issues you witness and put them in the picture. You can gauge how serious they are from the subsequent actions. As I have mentioned before, not paying until things are appropriately resolved is one way to get attention. Similarly, if there's a verifiable pattern, lodge a complaint with the IATF/ANAB etc. Treat them as you would other types of supplier. They don't deliver to your needs, report back to them on their error(s) and require a corrective action at the very least. Your supplier evaluation procedure/criteria would probably require you to do this type of action...so follow it!
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2015
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  5. Jennifer Kirley

    Jennifer Kirley Moderator Staff Member

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    Like kids and puppies, if auditors get something wrong we should be told right away. I have experienced variation in registrar witness auditors too. It is maddening but it comes down to whether or not the action request is accurate, actionable, evidence based... if you think the auditor got it wrong, dispute the finding. If the auditor is going around acting like a wobbly wagon wheel, it may be that he/she really needs to be corrected.
     
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  6. MCW8888

    MCW8888 Well-Known Member

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    As Andy says, treat auditors as suppliers. Use the appeal process and ask the CB to send a CSI survey. You need to give a supplier score card to your CB because you are the client. Be factual, not hearsay. The good thing is that auditors can only audit the facility for 3 years. If you have not yet reach the third year, I suggest you contact the CB and go through the appeal process. Or file a Customer Complain. Hope this helps.
     
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  7. Sidney Vianna

    Sidney Vianna Well-Known Member

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    Any CB accredited under the IAF umbrella, must have people involved with monitoring their auditors and reviewing technical reports. You must bring the issue up to discussion and review by such people at the CB, unless you are willing to change your system depending on the auditor "du jour". When the requirement allows room for interpretation, YOU, as the organization responsible for complying with the standard has the authority and responsibility to make interpretations, as well. As long you devise a way that satisfies the standard and it's intent and makes sense for your organization and it's context, the auditor's opinion is just that: an opinion; and you are not mandated to agree with his/her "interpretation".

    That is not a requirement of the accredited certification process for ISO 9001. I believe it applies only to the IATF ISO/TS 16949 certification process.
     
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  8. MCW8888

    MCW8888 Well-Known Member

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    I hope the CB's impose this requirement to ISO9001:2015
     
  9. MCW8888

    MCW8888 Well-Known Member

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    Clause 7.3 of the ISO9001:2015 is now a stand alone clause to include all persons doing work on behalf of the organization. They need to demonstrate competency. 8.4.1 Control of externally provided resources should include the auditors that provide services on behalf of the CB's.
     
  10. Sidney Vianna

    Sidney Vianna Well-Known Member

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    While, obviously, the CB auditor competence is a concern and subject of specific requirements in ISO 17021 and it's family of standards, it is critical to remember that CB's don't work "on behalf" of the certificate holders, despite all the pandering that many CB's offer. The concept of an independent, third-party entity as CB's are SUPPOSED to behave gets all too confused when people start thinking that a CB is just another supplier of services. Because of this gross misunderstanding, the whole concept of certification and it's credibility gets watered down.
     
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  11. Golfman25

    Golfman25 Well-Known Member

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    Ok, I'll provide an update since I am still having issues (and these issues will likely lead to termination of my CB going forward). Sec 4.2.2 requires a quality manual that includes a description of the interaction between the processes of the quality management system. We identify our process as A, B, C etc. We then used linked "turtle diagrams" to create the "map." For example, the turtle for process A is linked to process B via arrows and a numbering system. Thus, we can and do lay them out on a conference table to map our processes when necessary. We also use procedural flowcharts to show linkages of the process activities. This had been deemed sufficient for 12 years.

    Now we have NC because we didn't have a process map included in our system. At the outset of our audit, our CB asked for a process map for audit planning purposes, so we created a simple quick "one page" copy of our system described above.

    So we eventually capitulated and created an actual process map which was accepted. What wasn't accepted was our root cause analysis. The simple one sentence summary of our RCA was that process maps are not required and that we did it differently which had been acceptable for the previous 12 years.

    So how do you Root cause analysis this one? Thanks,
     
  12. Ganesh Sundaresan

    Ganesh Sundaresan Active Member

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    If this is the exact root cause statement you had given in writing to the CB, I would be surprised if you were hoping for this to get accepted:). Sorry, your statement might be factual, but then feeding what seems like a snide reply to an Auditor who seemingly already has a craving to score an egotistical point, doesn't do any good either. I would prefer to either convince CB or get convinced and add value to my system however minor they are. Just my views.
     
  13. Andy Nichols

    Andy Nichols Moderator Staff Member

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    Since you are going to ditch them, why bother? They trumped up a reason for an invalid NC and now you feel you have to respond with a root cause - tell them what you wrote here - "It's been good enough for 12 years - your auditor is creating reasons to write an NC - where's the requirements in ISO for this?"

    If they refuse to remove the NC, write to ANAB (if that the accreditor) and make a complaint. You'll have to close this NC to transfer to another CB.
     
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  14. Golfman25

    Golfman25 Well-Known Member

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    I just want the path of least resistance. Get it closed and move on. Any thoughts on root cause?
     
  15. Andy Nichols

    Andy Nichols Moderator Staff Member

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    You misunderstood the intent of that requirement of the standard, Simples!
     
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  16. MCW8888

    MCW8888 Well-Known Member

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    It depends whether or not the finding is major. If your certificate is suspended because of a finding that you and your auditor do not agree. You feel you have provided enough objective evidence and the auditor said "no", then I recommend that you let it go through the appeals process, right away because you only have 110 days to act before the suspension becomes a revocation of certificate. In order to prevent this from happening, you must, during the closing, read the standard verbatim with the auditor and let this individual know how you interpret the standard. Remember, you are not working for TS16949. TS should work for you, and the auditor has to verify this. If there is a discrepancy that you and the auditor have, let him know you intend to appeal. Auditors are human too, and they are being scrutinized by ANAB for conducting "soft" audits. Hope this helps. Happy New Year.
     
  17. Golfman25

    Golfman25 Well-Known Member

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    Not a major. I have already done the appeal and it was a bigger train wreck than the audit. As I have mentioned in other posts, it seems as though my CB is taking the approach that meaningless documents are easier to justify than actually looking at a system, thinking, and doing analysis. They will deny it (and have to me) but they are basically requiring me to make a single document called a process map as the only way to comply. Rather than fight, it is easier for me to put 7 boxes on a single piece of paper with fancy arrows and call it a process map. This has been accepted. The issue now is root cause analysis.

    My goal now is to get my cert. and transfer to a new CB/Auditor and work with them to clean my system back up. The poor new guy will be pulling is hair out reviewing the last audit results, but at least we'll have time to work thru it.
     
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  18. MCW8888

    MCW8888 Well-Known Member

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    I think you are doing the right thing. I do not fuss over minors. I am concern with majors.
     
  19. James

    James Active Member

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    I definitely suggest looking elsewhere. The roadmap we use for our auditors is the process flow start page in our ERP software. I literally took a screenshot of it for when it's requested. We use E2 and its start page has links to every step from first inputting new orders and shipping to monthly reports and QA CAs. Not only is it a flow chart, it's the actual things anyone clicks when they're doing the work. It is also our time clock and job clock. I'd guess most of us use some form of ERP software, and for those that do that section actually is the flow. If you need a decent CB to look into let me know and I'll send you the name of ours.
     
  20. Golfman25

    Golfman25 Well-Known Member

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    So my nightmare continues. So we had a finding against our laboratory scope (TS 16949). It is alleged that our scope did not include a torque measurement. However, when developing our scope we considered that said measurement was included under general inspection, where we use the standard tools - mics, calipers, etc. The auditor has provided no reason as to why it can't be included under this general inspection category. Ok fine, the "fix" is simple (as stated by the person who handled our appeal) -- just add a new line to the lab scope.

    But now we can't get a root cause analysis and corrective action approved. Allegedly our root cause (that we considered it part of general inspection) doesn't show what system "failed" and our corrective action (revising the scope) doesn't show what system has been updated to prevent recurrence of the issue.

    HELP!!! How is it a system failure when you have a difference of opinion? Thanks in advance.
     

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