Yehey!... Audit is finally over. The months and days spent agonizing over those TMSA and ISM requirements are all in the past. Overall, we had some NC's and points for improvement but we were told that our QMS here is "the best in class". So, everything's all worth it.
It's good to be on the other side this time. Being an auditor myself, I can somehow relate to how dreadful I might seem to a lot of people. Just the term "audit" is enough to rattle people into closing their doors to your face. Now imagine yourself face to face with the person who's job is to find out if you're really doing your job. Imagine being in a room with someone who would require you to show proofs that you are consistently following the system. And imagine that person endlessly going through every word you say, recording your responses and asking countless of follow up questions.
Now imagine that being me... until the QA System Auditor from the head office comes over. Now I'm the one on the hot seat.
It's hard not to get defensive. Sometimes, we believe in what we do so much that we don't always make room for criticism. Its always a matter of "you are here to find fault in me, but in reality you do not know my job". True, but more often, auditors are here to make your lives easier. To point you to the right direction. To show you where you need to improve and sometimes, even how to improve.
So I figured I should write down some tips to help you during an audit:
1. Do not volunteer information. Answer only when asked. A lot of us get into the mistake of being too eager to volunteer information and think that they are only helping out. The thing is, the one being helped by your big mouth is the auditor and not yourself. Remember, these guys do not really have an idea on what are your pitfalls. so stay quiet and let them find out for themselves.
2. Be honest. Answer with a YES or NO and be ready to prove it. There's nothing more annoying to an auditor than a person who refuses to directly answer a question. Remember, these guys look for proof, so lying, no matter how good you are, won't really help you.
3. Remember where your records are. As I've said before, an auditor looks for a documented proof that you are indeed complying with the requirements. So get all your records organized and handy. There's no use keeping a file if you can't find it when you need it.
4. Be open for suggestions for improvement. Likewise, be ready to suggest one yourself. Remember, we are all doing this towards total quality improvement.
5. Learn from the experience. Always remember that you will only be a better worker because of this. And learn from the auditor's way of questioning so you can be better prepared next time (or maybe be an auditor yourself!)