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Is the competence of third party auditors improving?

Is the competence of 3rd party auditors improving?

  • Yes, auditors are getting better

    Votes: 6 22.2%
  • No, auditors are getting dumber

    Votes: 10 37.0%
  • No change in my assessment

    Votes: 11 40.7%

  • Total voters
    27
  • This poll will close: .
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Mark Meer

Trusted Information Resource
I cast my vote as "No change in my assessment", but that's only because in my experience auditor competence is always slightly unpredictable. Sometimes you get a good one, sometimes not...
 

Sidney Vianna

Post Responsibly
Staff member
Admin
Sometimes you get a good one, sometimes not...
That's a fair assessment, in my view. Imagine if the suppliers of "regular" products were as inconsistent as CB's. Would you disqualify that supplier?

Unfortunately, one of the components of the certificate confidence downward spiral is the fact that most buyers of auditor services choose not to provide honest feedback to CB's and AB's about auditor conduct and competence, for fear of "retaliation".

In the US, one AB developed a Client's Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.

The Certification Client Bill of Rights and Responsibilities
Third-party accredited certification is a professional relationship between a client being certified, the certification body (CB), the CB's auditors, the accreditation body (AB), and the AB's assessors. In the United States, the recognized AB for management systems certification is the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB), a signatory of the International Accreditation Forum multilateral recognition arrangements for quality and environmental management systems.

These parties all contribute to the integrity of accredited certification and continual improvement based on processes that assure capability, competence, and impartiality. From time to time, a certified client may be dissatisfied with the services of a CB or CB auditor. Options include leaving one CB for another. However, continual improvement also applies to CBs and CB auditors. Therefore, certified clients are encouraged to provide feedback to ANAB whenever they sense inadequacy with their CB. Thus, herewith is the Client Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.

The client has a Right to expect:

That the audit team assigned to the audit has the collective competence with regard to the processes or services that the client lists in its scope of certification.

The audit team to perform a thorough audit of the processes that support the management system, and to collect through interviews of personnel, observation, and review of documents the objective evidence necessary to determine conformance or nonconformance to the requirements of the relevant standard(s).

That no auditor will consult with or provide solutions to the client.

To be made aware that disagreements with an auditor's "interpretation" in documented findings related to the applicable standard(s) may be disputed and/or appealed to the CB through a formal process. If this process is not resolved to the satisfaction of the client, the appeal may be elevated to ANAB as a complaint for further consideration.

The auditor or CB to recommend more frequent surveillance visits when routine scheduled surveillance identifies numerous findings indicating the client is not self-managing its management system processes adequately.

The auditor or CB to add additional audit time to the next surveillance or recertification audit if findings require verification of implementation and effectiveness to ensure there is no reduction to the required audit duration times.

To receive its certificate in a timely manner after successful audit finding resolution, review, acceptance, and closure.

Furthermore, the client has a Responsibility:

To respond to audit findings in a timely manner and sincerely seek to implement immediate correction, discover the root cause that leads to effective corrective action and can also result in preventive action, and thus encourage true continual improvement.

To notify ANAB through the ANAB complaint process when they replace their CB with another because of dissatisfaction.

ISO/IEC 17021, the International Standard that applies to management systems CBs, includes a principle on Responsibility (clause 4.4), which states:

The client organization, not the certification body, has the responsibility for conformity with the requirements for certification.

The certification body has the responsibility to assess sufficient objective evidence upon which to base a certification decision.

Based on audit conclusions, it makes a decision to grant certification if there is sufficient evidence of conformity, or not to grant certification if there is not sufficient evidence of conformity.

When all the parties involved understand and execute their responsibilities, accredited certification achieves its purpose of providing confidence that a management system fulfills specified requirements.
 

Mike S.

Happy to be Alive
Trusted Information Resource
For most of us, we don't personally interact with a lot of different 3rd party auditors, so the sample size is relatively small. That said, of the six 3rd party auditors that immediately come to my mind that I've had personal experience with, I would say:

* 3 were highly competent and I'd be happy to have any of those 3 audit and/or train me or any of my suppliers. Tough but fair and reasonable. If all goes as scheduled we will have one of these guys back this year.

* 1 was competent

* 1 was fairly competent in most areas but created 1 or 2 requirements out of thin air -- would not want him back

* 1 was incompetent, unprofessional, lazy, and created multiple requirements out of thin air. A legend in his own mind. I found out later that one of his peers refuses to audit on a team with him anymore.
 

Scanton

Wearer of many hats
A legend in his own mind
These are the most dangerous and damaging of all Auditors, especially if they impose their own "special" interpretation of the standard on the less knowledgeable, who off the back of a dubious nonconformity create and maintain completely unnecessary processes or system in order to satisfy a requirement that doesn't actually exist.
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
While I've had generally good experience with 3rd-party auditors, I think that the competence of lead auditors is extremely important. More than once I've seen auditors reined in by their lead when they started to stray.
 

RoxaneB

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
My take is that if we wanted to give some legitimacy to this informal poll, the results of "before" should have been frozen and then a new poll posted. That would show if there is a perception of improvement. Right now, old votes from 2006 would still appear in the results, correct? This will skew today's assessment of improvement (or not).
 
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