You scan your work inbox and there it is, a notification of a customer audit. Soon your coworkers will be coming to your cubicle to voice their dread and hatred of audits.
Here are a few do’s and don’ts to share with your team to help them prepare and ensure a smooth audit.
Audit dos and don’ts
1. Be positive, courteous and cooperative with the auditor
From your initial email correspondence to the end of the audit, remember your manners. An upset or angry auditor will be less likely to work with you and your team on any findings.
2. Alert staff of the audit
Alert your staff and subject matter experts of the audit as far in advance as possible. If possible, ask the auditor for an agenda and forward it to the appropriate people.
Also make sure key staff are aware they may be asked to join you during the course of the audit.
3. Aim to learn from the audit
Be aware of the scope of the audit and listen to questions carefully. Try to become a subject matter expert on the audit criteria.
If you have concerns or doubts about a potential nonconformity, ask the auditor to show you the relevant requirement in the audit criteria.
Be a sponge. Learn from the questions. And be honest. An audit is a learning experience.
4. If you don’t know, say so
Don’t be afraid to ask the auditor for clarification before responding to a question. If you still don’t understand what is being asked, it’s ok to say, “I don’t know.” That’s better than guessing.
Let the auditor know you’ll look for an answer and find out if the auditor wants to retrieve it now or in the future.
5. Have a robust internal audit procedure
An internal audit is the best way to find out about your non-conformances and deficiencies. Know your processes and how you fit into them. Know where to find them and how to interpret them.
6. Encourage staff to raise potential issues
It’s always better for you or your staff to find an issue, rather than being caught off guard when an auditor finds it during an audit. This way, you can get them the issue into your Corrective or Preventive Action (CAPA) program before the auditor arrives.
Even if an issue can’t be corrected prior to the audit, having it in your system demonstrates to the auditor that you’re aware of it and working on it. It also shows that you use your CAPA system effectively.
7. Stay focused
Provide concise answers to the auditor. Don’t go off on a tangent or tell stories. Keep responses on target. This is not the time to throw everything at the wall to see “what sticks.” Do not volunteer information – answer only what is asked.
Also, learn to be comfortable with silence and teach this to your team and employees.
Auditors often wait to respond, in the hopes that an auditee will feel the need to fill the silence and keep the conversation going. Don’t volunteer information just to fill the silence.
What tips do you have to survive audits? What’s your go-to method to get employees and operations audit ready? Send us an email and we’ll share your replies in a future article!
At isoTracker, we offer modular, cloud-based quality management software, including audit management software.