When passing an ISO 9001 audit with ‘flying colours’ flatters to deceive

Posted: March 22, 2011 in Auditor, Consultancy, Corrective Action, Internal Auditing, ISO 9001, ISO 9001 Training Guides, Training
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Over the years there have been many instances when I see sites pin their ‘flying colours’ to the mast after their audit and it makes me wonder because I know for a fact that the site in question has major issues,  For example, the system hasn’t been managed for months; internal audits haven’t been done and customers have raised serious concerns.  So how come a third party can give it such a glowing report?

In fact I can remember one such site where I was called in to do a resurrection job because a major customer had serious doubts over the certification body whose certificate hung so proudly on the wall.  After a little bit of digging I came to the conclusion that the customer was right.  I couldn’t put up any defence, the system was in a mess – so who was helping who?

This is a timely comment in view of the latest, and some say controversial, version of ISO17021 coming out last month.  The standard now sets out requirements for auditor competence as well as the actual auditing of a system. Its purpose is to set the standard for certification bodies so as to increase the level of trust associated with the role in certification.  They have two years to bring it to fruition so it will be interesting to see if we see a reduction in the number of ‘flying colours’ in that period.

My belief has always been that an auditor should be offering a balanced assessment of a QMS, but if there are any deficiencies, particularly glaring ones, then they shouldn’t shy away from their responsibilities and should report the issues accordingly and look for suitable corrective action.  It does nobody any favours just to keep that certificate on the wall when all around it is falling down. Can you share any similar horror stories?

Tips on auditing are part of my ISO 9001 Training Guide videos currently available on free subscription.

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