Auditor Certification II - Auditor Certification - IRCA/RAB 5 day lead auditor course

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I read with interest Marc implied the fact that auditors don't seem to be experienced in the field that they often are auditing, I agree yet, many auditees are very interested in having a fresh objective perspective on their existing QMS and this can only be accomplished in many cases by having a consultant or independent auditor in to assess current practices and processess.
I recently was given a contract to audit a research company who manufactured explosive and drug sniffing devices for the military and the FAA, I went into that audit knowing very little about their business at all yet, I gave this organization a very unique assessment based upon my lack of knowledge of drug and explosive research, the outcome was extremely succesful regarding my assessment and report to management.
This may be an exception to the rule of knowledge based auditing in any given field yet, I firmly believe that my lack of knowledge in this case gave the auditee the benefit of having confidence in my detached position.


Fully vaccinated are you?
->There's now a global shortage of QS and TS assessors who
->have re-qualified.

Yup - I have called QS-9000 a scam since 1996. My opinion has not changed. But then again, I see all politics and religion as power scams. My opinions are obviously jaded.

If I was you, however, being a qualified assessor, I would be happy in that it should push up your ability to charge more for your services!


Fully vaccinated are you?
I have also consulted in fields where I do not have direct work experience. Yes - it can give a company a 'unique' view.

My complaint is that in the long run, if you have no experience in the field you are auditing it makes it difficult to understand what's going on. If I audit a chemical manufacturer and I have a background in that industry I will argueably be better positioned to understand what's going on and thus be able to get the audit done and get on with the show. Much time is spent in trying to educate auditors in how a business runs.

Using your arguement one can also argue that if your business is in trouble it would be well served by getting someone from outside the field to help and in fact I interviewed at Coors about 3 years ago as director of quality and their stated reasoning was just that - to get someone who was not part of their industry so that there would be no paradigms - thus they would get 'fresh' ideas.

I personally would want someone to help who had a background (and thus experience) in my business if I wanted advice. One may not see auditing in this light, but my experience has been that many, many auditors have a paradigm that is hard to break. I remember one college professor who quit to become a QS auditor. He tore up a client on their document numbering system - which is really none of his business.

It is different in the role of a consultant to some degree because you have time to communicate with and understand the company and typically have a more open mind. None the less, I believe that even in a consultant role experience in the field gives a great edge.

To say you gave them a unique audit is, I am sure, correct. I'll go you one step further. I worked in hospitals for years and didn't get into business, per se, until I was in my late 30's. I said then that my lack of experience gave me a unique view of business. I argued that I had no paradigms set as happens through years of being in a business environment. As I get older I realize how much experience in a field gives me. Just as college gives one information to call on throughout his/her life, experience in a field gives one the same. Companies in trouble rarely call in a copmany or person to help based upon their lack of experience in their business. Auditors become 'consultants' every time they write up an 'opportunity for improvement'. I have seen an awful lot of auditor write-ups based on the auditor's expectations based upon experience from another field.

But as I said, as far as all this pertains to registrar audits, I believe experience in the field shortens the audit and reduces problems with interpretations. I would prefer that if my bank is being audited that it be audited by someone with a lot of experience in the banking field. You might go in and give a bank a 'unique' audit, but I want someone who knows what to be looking for and where to look. I would want someone who knows and understands industry standards and what 'should' be there. It may be that in the Firestone case if the auditors were experienced in tyre making they would have recognized what was happening (I do not know that the auditors were not from the tyre industry, but I wouldn't be surprised if they were not).

In addition, since I'm rambling, I will comment that I believe the same auditor should be doing all the audits. Or at least be present. Too many of my clients have a common complaint - they get a different auditor every year or every 6 months and each time the 'new' auditor disallows something the previous auditor 'allowed' - essentially the interpretations issue. When I helped Motorola semiconductor in QS, we learned after the 2nd audit - we REQUIRED LRQA to supply a 'master' auditor to attend every audit. This meant that only one facility could be audited at any one time. But -the interpretations issue was so distorted during the first 2 audits that it was rediculous. In Seranban one auditor 'allowed' a certain interpretation while in Ireland the auditor 'disallowed' the same. In part, the problem was exacerbated by the lack of auditors who had a background in semiconductor manufacturing.

->I was wondering if anyone could send me some past papers
->or whatever so that I can at least get an idea as to what
->sort of questions will be asked.

This won't help much as it is all about interpretations.

->Is someone making big bucks out of exam re-sits at $1000+
->a time ???

Duh. And this, too, is all about interpretations. And, of course, yes -- money...


The research company audit that I performed presented me with a unique challenge regarding previous auditor interpretations of the ISO standard, I came across an interpretation by an auditor that I had to seek out the reason for this certain slant upon his understanding of the standard, I contacted him during my audit and asked him to explain his decision and interpretation, I was given his reasoning and after we had discussed thie issue at hand, he agreed to change his original interpretation, I found this approach to be very useful, the auditor faxed me a revision to his original issue which at the time of his first audit at that site became a contender for avery major NC.
Has anyone else used this approach?


Fully vaccinated are you?
I'm not saying what you did was not beneficial. But from what you say there were 2 failure modes on the part of the company.

1. Failure to have someone in-house who understood the standard with resect to their company and their business - my first warning to every new client is I can't do this for you in the long run. If a company has to hire an someone like me to assess whether or not an interpretation is appropriate their in-house expert needs some lessons.

2. Failure to 'fight' for their interpretation.

Yes - I have been retained to address auditor interpretations. I have never actually called an auditor to speak with him/her about their interpretation. However I have had many face-to-face 'jousts' with auditors and I have only 'lost' a couple of times.

This site is based upon those experiences. It is why the 'logo' is "Helping you through the QS/ISO 9000 fog and intent blurr". Interpretations have been an issue from the get go.

QS was what kicked me into actually setting up a web site, but the site and forums you are now on are the direct result of ***___e auditor interpretations. This is one reason I have very little regard for auditors in general any more. Many have axes to grind or paradigms which prevent them from 'understanding'. They don't believe in looking at the intent - they have very narrow paradigms. Note that when I say 'they' I mean many, not all, auditors.

In fact, I worked with an insurance company last year in an ISO 9001-2000 implementation. I have never before worked in, nor consulted for, an insurance company. The auditors who did the audit had never before worked in, or audited, an insurance company (one auditor was an ***___e and the other was very good). In addition, the RAB had a witness there as the registrar was due for its yearly witness audit and this one was chosen. The RAB witness also had never worked in the the insurance business nor had he ever been in an audit of an insurance company. (See FWSC)

I guess I do not see it as a 'unique' challange to go in and assess interpretations made by registrar auditors in an industry I have never worked in because I've done it many times in the last 10 years. That does not mean I cannot do a better and faster job if it's an industry I have had direct work experience in. Or, in cases like the insurance company last year, where I have implementation experience.

[This message has been edited by Marc Smith (edited 29 March 2001).]


The two failure modes that you mentioned are indeed so common that, I have found them to be evident in almost every audit that I have attended to, there were some serious staff shortages at the time of my contracted assessment of the QMS, I did notice that the research company has since decided to remain registered to the 1994 ISO 9001 standard and to refrain from being pre-assessed for conformance to the present ISO9001 standard.
Modern business practices that put presure upon those employed to maintain and improve the QMS and also to perform many other tasks that conflict with the necessities of the QMS,I believe is one of the causes of internal failure to understand the standard of compliance and therefore results in the lack of fighting for the standard interpretation when it comes to facing the registrarar auditors.


Forgive me for butting in this conversation thread between Marc and Wallace, but I'd just like to comment on the many valid points brought forth so far. I've been a QS auditor since 1994 and admittedly I may not have been an expert on some of the first systems I been asked to audit. My background is production and quality in electronics manuf. and work as a process engineer in semiconductor research. However the SIC system US-based registrars used and the 2 digit fields of expertise the Europeans use both have created problems in determining what expertise is needed. Would you believe that my previous work as an auto mechanic and motorcycle mechanic had no bearing on my QS qualifications? I have replaced another QS auditor's waterpump and brakes, repaired her car stereo, etc., yet all she knew about cars was how to pump gas. I'm not trying to be sexist here, but she was considered more qualified to audit automotive suppliers than I because she once worked as a bookkeeper for Ford. Another situation I asked a former Ford engineer to audit PPAP and this person admitted they had never seen one before. Assessors have to start somewhere. What it comes down they add value to the audit? A good Audit Leader would determine where a auditor's strengths lie. I try to send the more experienced auditor in the industry on the process path. Auditors can use some of their background in similar industries until they understand their client's business...much the same way consultants work. Although the QS recert and TS exams have disqualified many auditors, the purpose was to eliminate the bad auditors. We that remain hope that clients benefit from a better grade of auditor and would be willing to pay slightly more for the better value-added audits they will be getting.
-Just my $0.02 worth.


Sorry but I just finished reading the earlier thread about LA credentials. I am aware of a trainer who was stripped of his credentials by telling his class they were "Certified Lead Assessors" after having passed the 5 day course. In reality, from there, you pay your $250 for a journal and become a QS-PA (provisional auditor). RAB relaxed the requirements two years ago and now you can become a QS-A without benefit of witness audits, but RAB has to approve your journal. Although QS-LA credentials still require witness audits, RAB reduced the number you need last year. FWIW, registrars don't want to be in the business of qualifying all auditors, but it was a can't audit without credentials and you can't get credentials without auditing. The RAB knows they created a brick wall between QS-PA and QS-A so they tried to do something about it with the QS-A certification changes. Once you get to QS-A, you may then billable by registrars for QS work after passing the QS exam (this limitation to not use QS-PA auditors on QS audits is spelled out in Appendix B of QS-9000). Having a QS-A will attract more attention to your resume than QS-PA or CQA. The previous registrar I worked for spent an average of $27,000 to train auditors to get them to QS-A level. It usually took another year after that to bring them up to Lead Assessor. Many registrars without elaborate training programs would rather get someone already certified. Note to Carl- your thoughts on having Lead Assessor credentials will naturally upset some people. What do you think about the president of Mexico; Vincente Fox saying he has a Harvard MBA, when he only took one executive course taught by a Harvard Business Professor while he was at Coke? This is exactly the kind of thing you are saying. BTW, I am recruiting auditors for QS work, but I don't want adversarial type individuals :D and I don't have a training budget. I already have about 8 fulltime EMS auditors to use, but we don't have the business yet to keep them all busy. All the EMS auditors have at least a master's degree and two have PhDs. If anyone reading this has QS-LA or QS-A with extensive automotive experience and you are interested in a full-time automotive auditing position, please email me. Your location and liklihood of passing the QS and TS exams will weigh heavily in any hiring decision.


With some registrars, it was a scam. Hopefully the Automotive OEMs will keep them out of TS auditing. They've already taken steps to do so.

-A QS & TS recertified auditor.

Originally posted by Marc Smith:
->There's now a global shortage of QS and TS assessors who
->have re-qualified.

Yup - I have called QS-9000 a scam since 1996. My opinion has not changed. But then again, I see all politics and religion as power scams. My opinions are obviously jaded.

If I was you, however, being a qualified assessor, I would be happy in that it should push up your ability to charge more for your services!
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