Is the competence of third party auditors improving?

Is the competence of 3rd party auditors improving?

  • Yes, auditors are getting better

    Votes: 7 25.9%
  • No, auditors are getting dumber

    Votes: 6 22.2%
  • No change in my assessment

    Votes: 13 48.1%
  • Auditor competence is an oxymoron

    Votes: 1 3.7%

  • Total voters
    27

Antonio Vieira

Involved - Posts
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#71
Why is competence of third party auditors becoming worse every day here in Portugal?
The main problem is an economic situation. An auditor is being paid less money for each audit that he was 10/15 years ago. The result - registrars are choosing inexperienced young people to perform audits because they are entering the “market” must work for any value.
Other problem I see every day here is that young people just don’t read books or other important information, about quality management and auditing…
 
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Sidney Vianna

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#72
Interestingly, about 80% of the people who casted their vote in the poll believe that auditor competence has not changed or is getting better. I have to say that I am a little surprised with the poll results.
 

Colin

Quite Involved in Discussions
#73
Along similar lines, I would guess that the majority of auditors in the UK are over 50 years old (no research done, just an estimation). Now I am not suggesting that in itself is a problem (I am one of them by the way!) but where are the future auditors coming from?

With greater emphasis by accreditation bodies being put on the competence of auditors (involving some years of experience in specific areas of industry/commerce) this often works against younger people getting involved in 3rd party auditing.

My concern is that we will end up with a 'chicken and egg' situation - you can't do audits until you have experience and you can't get experience unless you do audits. This potentially leaves CB's trying to recruit from a smaller pool of expertise and with finance being what it is at this time, they don't want to have to take the hit trying to get new auditors up to speed - especially as they are likely to get better offers and leave.
 

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
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#74
ISO 9001 Auditors only, or Auditors of other Standards as well?

I admit I haven't really been following this, nor have I read every page of this thread - So I meekly ask:

Is this thread all about ISO 9001 auditors, or are we including other standards such as AS9100, TS 16949, ISO 14001, etc?
 

Sidney Vianna

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#75
Re: ISO 9001 Auditors only, or Auditors of other Standards as well?

I admit I haven't really been following this, nor have I read every page of this thread - So I meekly ask:

Is this thread all about ISO 9001 auditors, or are we including other standards such as AS9100, TS 16949, ISO 14001, etc?
When I created the thread, I meant to ask the question in the broadest sense possible, i.e., third-party auditors, irrespective of standard being assessed.
 
Last edited:
#76
Along similar lines, I would guess that the majority of auditors in the UK are over 50 years old (no research done, just an estimation). Now I am not suggesting that in itself is a problem (I am one of them by the way!) but where are the future auditors coming from?

With greater emphasis by accreditation bodies being put on the competence of auditors (involving some years of experience in specific areas of industry/commerce) this often works against younger people getting involved in 3rd party auditing.

My concern is that we will end up with a 'chicken and egg' situation - you can't do audits until you have experience and you can't get experience unless you do audits. This potentially leaves CB's trying to recruit from a smaller pool of expertise and with finance being what it is at this time, they don't want to have to take the hit trying to get new auditors up to speed - especially as they are likely to get better offers and leave.
Agreed, Colin. I'm further going to stir that pot by suggesting that rates paid by CBs and, therefore fees passed on to clients, are too low to attract the caliber of people who really should be doing these audits. I can remember, back in the 90s, a major client driving down audit day rates to under $900! Frankly, only fools would be in that business and, no doubt, the client got the auditors they paid for...:notme:;)
 

Ajit Basrur

Staff member
Admin
#77
Agreed, Colin. I'm further going to stir that pot by suggesting that rates paid by CBs and, therefore fees passed on to clients, are too low to attract the caliber of people who really should be doing these audits. I can remember, back in the 90s, a major client driving down audit day rates to under $900! Frankly, only fools would be in that business and, no doubt, the client got the auditors they paid for...:notme:;)
This definitely is one side of the story but on the other side, I have witnessed many audits done by reputed CBs who had very inexperienced auditors. Thats why in my earlier post, I clarified it varies from region to region :)

The main reasons that I attribute this to are -

  1. Lack of experienced auditors in emerging markets like Brazil, India, China and Russia. Probably the experienced auditors is not proportionate to the scale of economy
  2. Migration of experienced auditors from auditing to actual manufacturing industries. I have seen some senior guys joining the industry.
  3. Quality awareness in the auditees is definitely much higher now than, even in 1990s primarily because of internet. People have more access to information and knowledge at finger's tips. There are plenty of forums and like our Cove, its very enriching. ;)

    Thus relatively, some auditees excel the auditor's "competency".
 

Colin

Quite Involved in Discussions
#78
Andy & Ajit - both very good points made. In the UK many CB's are using more and more associates to do audits for them. This makes sense in some ways as it is cheaper for them to do this than employ their own full time auditors. It also has the advantage that they can call on a specialist in a particular field as and when needed - say they have only 30/40 days/year to do in a specific industry - they don't need to recruit for that work.

The vast majority of these associates are self-employed so it suits them too but the problem I see now is (as Andy states), day rates. Most CB's in the UK don't want to pay more than around £220/day for an associate auditor - and in some cases that includes travelling costs - especially if they are driving to the place of work.

The outcome from this is that the 'better' auditors are able to obtain more lucrative work as a consultant/trainer most of the time so they leave the audit work alone. The people who are interested in the work tend to be semi-retired people who are looking to supplement their income with some part-time work and young, new auditors who are trying to get a foot on the ladder.
 

Howard Atkins

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Admin
#79
Here are a few comments on the posts

I am working as a contractor and the prices that you give for the UK are far lower than I am paid and for that price it would not be worth working!

"If you pay peanuts you get monkeys"

See this article Registrars - Low price - good deal.pdf posted by Sidney Vianna here

From my experience the "company auditors" tend to act with little interest in their customers as they have an employement contract and thus they are less effected by "customer satisfaction", contractors are more dependent on positive feedback to receive more work.
There is another problem that there is to often a lack of practical knowledge of auditors, young auditors with no industrial experience will be less able to understand and add value to the audit, on the other hand they have less preconceived ideas as to how the plant should work.
Too many auditors still do not understand the process approach and want the companies to be mirror images of their experience.

In another aspect the auditor must like the industry he audits and be enthused by the changes and technological advances.

Colpart said:
I would guess that the majority of auditors in the UK are over 50 years old (no research done, just an estimation). Now I am not suggesting that in itself is a problem (I am one of them by the way!) but where are the future auditors coming from?
So am I.
I would hope they are coming from the same route as me after many years in industry rather than off the shelf!
As with every industry you need to ensure that competency of the auditors is maintained
 

Sidney Vianna

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Staff member
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#80
From my experience the "company auditors" tend to act with little interest in their customers as they have an employement contract and thus they are less effected by "customer satisfaction", contractors are more dependent on positive feedback to receive more work.
Howard, as always, you have very good points. The assertion quoted above is shared by many contract auditors in the industry. However, things are not so "black and white". Indeed, full time auditors are less susceptible to lose their income if one registrant blackballs him/her. However, in this very competitive market place, an auditor that is consistently and chronically rejected by clients will not remain employed very long.

When one digs at this issue, you will face one of the fundamental conundrums of this service: Having to "please" the invoice-paying customers, while maintaining the integrity of the audit and certification processes. Because, as I am tired of reminding people, the REAL users of the certificates are NOT the direct-customers of the CB's, but other stakeholders, primarily, the registrant's customers.

Some auditors, in their attempt to please the customers (registrants), allow for non-conformities to go unreported. They allow substandard systems to attain and maintain certification; doing so, they bring the whole certification process into disrepute and undermine the confidence in the value of management system certificates.

While many contract auditors work for only one or two CB's, there are some that work for a handful of registrars. For these, we have a problem because they never really learn each CB's protocol they represent.

As I mentioned several times also, most registrants are oblivious to the business models of different certification bodies and how that affects them (the registrants). Some CB's have "just-in-time", "auditor-on-demand" contract auditors all over the place, but they provide no training, no guidance to such subcontractors. The end result to the registrants? A revolving door of auditors, inconsistency of interpretation amongst auditors, different levels of customer service, etc...

By the way, with the upcoming deployment of ISO 17021:2011, the bar for competence establishment will move up. Let's see how that translates in the real world.
 
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