NC criteria during internal audits


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Guys, I have seen some confusion about minor NC and major NC during ISO audits. (My experience is mostly with 9001). Some internal audits don't agree sometimes with the major NC given. Even the leader auditor (internal) has hard time to discuss it with audit member and sometimes even the managers struggle to understand (and normally they use very good arguments to disagree with major ones). Have you guys have been in situations like this? What's your advice for those who find themselves doing internal Audit and are being confronted by others about NC criteria.

Big Jim

Sidney is spot on. Internal audit nonconformances do not need to be classified as major or minor. You can simply call them nonconformances.

If you really want to know how the certification body auditors classify nonconformances, that's another matter.


There are reasons why CB have to grade the NC and that is not relevant in your case. Do not copycat entirely the way CB report the audit. Your NC is a NC found internally during your quality management system monitoring. Find as many as you can sample, and take correction / corrective action based on the effects of the NC found and reported. A lot of time and energy in the organization is wasted discussing Major / Minor when your internal audit procedure so calls out. To being with, revisit your internal audit procedure and clean up if you have mentioned about rating / grading the NC


Involved In Discussions
I don't have much to add here, other than to restate what others have already mentioned. At earlier companies I saw so much "is this really a major finding? I think it's a minor." discussion to make me want to bang my head against the wall. At my current place, I recently updated our internal audit procedure to remove NC grades/severities.

Rather than putting the responsibility on the auditor, it is expected that the full scope of the issue (i.e., how broad it is, whether it is recurring, how severe the effects of the NC are, etc) will be investigated as part of the response to the NC.


"You can observe a lot by just watching."
What's the difference between a major and minor NC mean for your business? Do people have "no major NCs during the audit this year" built into their objectives? Do major NC require CAPAs, while minor NCs not require CAPAs?

Wondering if there's a specific reason people are fighting it?

Mike S.

Happy to be Alive
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I have had this argument with myself and admit to waffling about it. I can see pluses and minuses to just one category (NC) and using major/minor categories. When I have used the latter, I always tell everyone involved, the most important thing is the finding and fixing of problems, categorizing is a distant second place. If it is in a gray area, always lean toward minor, but get it fixed.
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