Is the management system being properly implemented? – that’s the question for gap 3. This is the part that is addressed through internal and third-party audit. It’s the one gap that most organisations address – not always effectively, it has to be said, but it’s the one that gets most attention. In many cases, it’s also the gap that customer audits focus on, or that organisations seem to think they do. Management systems can get audited numerous times each year, with auditors covering essentially the same ground. It’s important that management systems are being correctly implemented but, to return to gap 2 for a moment, it’s at the expense of verifying the system is actually right. If we don’t know that, there’s little point auditing the system. An analogy is driving with your GPS navigation system showing where you are and the way ahead but no route programmed in: it tells you where you are but you are able to go wherever you want and the map will just confirm your position – not whether you’re heading in the right direction.
I’ve covered auditing elsewhere, and I’ll probably come back to it later – audits are important and a vital tool in the management toolbox but you have to be auditing the right system.