An invented word that I hope won’t catch on but it’s got your attention and you’re reading this! What does “monuments” mean? To me, it’s documents that add nothing except more recycling potential. Let me explain. Continue reading


ServQual Gap 3

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.   Continue reading

The Silent Q (Auditing)

Following on from my take on the silent Q, I’m coming to considerations that have to be made by auditors in the supply chain…

Auditors cannot just be experts in “quality” or “safety” or “environment” (or “health” for that matter) or focus on compliance with a standard, be it ISO9001, OHSAS18001 or ISO14001.  Auditors need to be skilled in auditing irrespective of the standard.  They need skills for defining and agreeing clear terms of reference (ToR) for each audit, with a willingness to reach beyond a strict compliance mentality.  Compliance audits have their place but, when it gets down to assessing the ability to provide specific goods or services, compliance with the customer order, or even an international standard, may not be enough.  A compliance audit is only effective if the standards requiring compliance are explicitly and correctly defined. Continue reading

Supplier Audits

What is the purpose of a supplier audit?  To some businesses, it’s a regular part of their supply chain operation; for others, it’s a special activity triggered by some particular event or circumstance.  Some use ISO9001 as a basis; others will use OHSAS18001 or ISO14001; others all three; some none of these, using their own standard checklist; some turn up without a checklist and see where the visit takes them.  Some audits are by large purchasing organisations on small (SME) suppliers; less often, though not unknown, it’s the SME auditing the multi-national.

But these are differences in detail, differences of scale.  The most important issue when setting out to audit a supplier is to know what you are actually setting out to achieve.  Continue reading

Internal Auditing

The internal audit is where we take each procedure and check for compliance with our management system – wrong!  OK, you can do that but all it will yield are nonconformances that have to be closed out, often by updating the system paperwork.  The result is updated paperwork that few people other than the auditor reads.  Granted, some operational deviations will be picked up but, in my experience, this approach rarely leads to a permanent fix.  Overall, it will waste time and discourage auditing. Continue reading

Audit Types

Some people might define first, second and third party as three types of audit but, as I’ve said in a previous post, I prefer to look on these as the three relationships that exist.

However, there are still three types but I’d define them as:

  • Compliance,
  • Appraisal, and
  • Investigative

Most audits fall across two of these types but I find it useful to look at each having a primary type that defines the auditor’s approach (or should define it). Continue reading

Audit Relationships

We glibly talk about auditing as if it were one single tool or discipline: “We need to get our internal audit programme back on schedule” or “I’m off to audit a supplier” or “Our ISO9001 audit is due next week”  – different tasks that need different approaches.  I expect most people will be able to recognise there might be a difference when we define them as:

  • First party audit (FPA),
  • Second party audit (SPA), or
  • Third party audit (TPA),

but will they fully understand it.  Some people will use the above to define three types of audit but I prefer to say it defines three distinct audit relationships.  I’ll keep “Audit Types” as a heading for another slice of cabbage. Continue reading