Any IA success stories? Internal audits that have resulted in great improvements?

When we discuss internal audits we usually only talk about the problems connected with them... I would like to hear success stories: Tales about audits that have resulted in great improvements, something to buck up and inspire fellow auditors.


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Randy Stewart

I think most of you know my feelings on audits. They tend to be either a necessary evil or a true improvement tool. There doesn't seem to be much middle ground.
During our initial startup of ISO 14001 at the new building I was going through some of the HazMat paperwork. We bought a building that was an old printing company, the building had been vacant for over 3 years and no one was familiar with any of their operations (chemicals, disposal, etc.). I had some questions on what was being disposed of and how our "new" people were handling the HazMat. To make a long story short I ended up going through the MSDS Sheets to determine what was coming in and going out and that's where the problems began.
First no one was reviewing them to see what exactly we were putting in the building. The one that raised the big red flag was a chemical used in the new air conditioning system in the chillers to prevent a build up of bacteria. In order to handle this stuff you needed equipment just short of a hazmat suit. It was real nasty. Upon review of the chillers I found that the drains went straight to the regular storm drains, nothing stood between them and the rain run offs!
I brought up the issue on a Monday, by Wednesday the chemical was completely removed from the building and system, we had a new company to take care of our air conditioning system and the facility manager had a great respect for our environmental system.
I'm sure that eventually the problem would have been found, but to find it during the internal audit gave evidence of the system. We were able to make changes to our system at all 3 facilities and to protect our employees, community and environment from a potential hazzard.


Traditions are made to be broken

Hey Claes ! Thanks for soliciting some positive energy in this bizzre world we live in. I offer the following:

My only success stories (and huge successes by the way) are an upshot from non-traditional Auditing approaches.

1. Not employing people called auditors, rather determining whether our Quality Management System conforms to planned arrangements, is effectively implemented, maintained and improved upon, via integrating these requirements into our Management Review program. “Auditing” is Management’s Responsibility. Other people in the company need to focus on day-to-day operations.

2. When pseudo-traditional auditing techniques may be used, only visual style Process Instructions (pictures, flow charts, etc) are used. Time-honored, protracted, multi-level bullets, utilizing oblique vernacular and wooly semantics add 0 value to any organization, period.

It works, it conforms, it adds values, it's simple. Auditors hate it !

Thank's boxman, we all need a little bit of positive energy once in a while (although I do wonder what Energy himself has to add ;)...)

Just one question... Why would the auditors hate it when it works, conforms, adds values and is simple? :confused: Because it conforms to the std without following the tradition? :vfunny: I agree: If breaking the tradition brings improvement, then sod the tradition.


Randy Stewart

Polar Bear Club and you're in the quality field. Just seems natural, for some reason, for those two things to go together.

I have to say I love your approach. It almost sounds like the one we are using now. We have seen much more involvement, improvement and changes implemented this way. A wonderful approach that focuses on the process and not necessarily the procedures! Great.


Originally posted by Randy Stewart
Polar Bear Club and you're in the quality field. Just seems natural, for some reason, for those two things to go together.

If you are crazy enough to be in the QA field, jumping into a 30 deg lake is a peice of cake ! (Makes the martini taste even better, too).

Claes: Yes, most auditors hate it because it is non-traditional. It has been my experience (especially in automotive) that most auditors (95%) seem to audit to their opinion of your business practices, not the minimum requirements of the standard. Unfortunately, most companies feel intimidated enough to believe they will have their registration revoked if they stand firm (and I in my former life once did as well). There is a lot more golf for me to play and will not waste time doing busy work to satisfy an unethical auditor.

It does appear, however, the tide is changing. Since registration bodies are a simple commodity in a flattening market, they are quickly understanding that if they are inflexible in their "ethics", then they will not get the purchase order. Have a day ! :bigwave:
Audits that work

A trucking company was forced to “do” 4.20 by their registrar. They had no idea of what to track, so they tracked sales. An internal audit closing meeting was interrupted by someone stating that one of the drivers just received another ticket. The president asked how many times that driver has received tickets. The internal auditor stated that perhaps tickets would something worthwhile to track. The prez agreed. The company started tracking tickets, by category and began to share this info with the drivers during their regular safety meetings. As a result, over the next year tickets dropped off. A secondary impact was that accidents also dropped off. Could there be a correlation? I don’t know, but I do know that as a result of an internal audit, the organization chose a metric that was meaningful and used it to drive change.
Correlation or not... An improvement was achieved :D

Ok, who's next? I know that we have loads of auditors in the ranks here. Let's hear your success stories...

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