QS-9000 4.20 is it unauditable ?

What's your opinion about external auditors 4.20 audits

  • They don't care about 4.20

    Votes: 1 16.7%
  • They are so vague, they are content if you show them a simple run-chart or a verification sheet

    Votes: 2 33.3%
  • They are precise, and really find the weaknesses of our quality system

    Votes: 1 16.7%
  • They act as a statistical fundamentalist and ask for calculations memories for every single chart fo

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • None of the Above

    Votes: 2 33.3%

  • Total voters
  • Poll closed .


Hi. We are a steel plant producer. We've been QS-9000 registred since 1997, so we've been audited at least 9 times. In those external audits just once we've been asked about Statistical Techniques and the auditor was pleased because we show him a check list and a run-chart.

It seems that external auditors do not know how to audit 4.20.

It's just my perception ?. Could be just "that" external auditor ?

What's your opinion ?

Al Dyer

It could be that the auditor had already gained the information he needed to audit 4.20 without actually sitting at a table and saying "OK folks, time to audit 4.20".

The information could be found during auditing of:

4.2.3 could be used to verify Identification of Need (4.20.1) and Selection (4.20.3)
4.2.2 could be used to verify Procedures (4.20.2)
4.18 could be used to verify Conceptual Knowledge.

Basically, if the auditor walks around a few work stations, sees a few charts that are also on the control plan, and asks operators what the charts mean, 4.20 is covered.

Sorry, I couldn't respond to the poll, there was no "None of the above" option.
Any of our Auditors like to comment?


Fully vaccinated are you?
To add to Al's response, I typically see them look for identification of need, what you track, that people are trained who are taking measurements, etc. They don't get into methodology and such per se, but expect you to be able to explain what you're doing and why.

Don't expect them to give you advice, but they may look at trends and ask about them. Particularly negative trends (are you reacting and/or being pro-active).

Atul Khandekar

I don't think they are statistical fundamentalists, but they are trained and experienced enough to spot if something is wrong. In my experience, they can certainly spot your lack of understanding and compliance. They won't really check if your math and calculations are correct. Also they are not bothered if the methods/charts you use are useful in improving your quality and effectiveness of your QMS.
Do you have a 'Jack of All...' option?
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Laura M

It should be audited during process control and management review. Even measurement systems analysis. AS a separate element, its difficult to audit. (ISO9000:2000 helps that cause.)

I haven't seen an auditor yet question the use, validate control limits, question the person on their knowledge, or have more than a basic understanding themselves. I'm sure some do.

I've heard managers "identify" positive trends on run charts with 2 points in a row in the right direction - and auditors nod in agreement with the CEO and even write great things about their knowledge. I've had corrective actions reviewed that refer to SPC - and they don't follow up. I successfully defended why ongoing Cpk analysis wasn't necessary for a process demonstrating statistical control and well within the specs (Cpk of 6.0 or something like that), and he "wanted monthly Cpk" analysis. I talked one-sided specs and Cpk with one and they were dazed.

Auditors come from all walks. I don't think they need to be stats experts. But for the most part their knowledge is very limited. An auditor with a foundry background will ask things in a foundry that others wouldn't. An auditor with a IMTE background with persue calibration in a different manner. Its just second nature, not right or wrong. But the statistical technique element is really the only requirement that almost requires the auditor to have a technical background. So they do their best.

M Greenaway

Technical Expertise

The same argument could be applied to much of the QS/ISO standards.

For example when auditing design should the auditor have design knowledge, without it he could be shown any bumpf and take it as acceptable design practice.

Or calibration, should the auditor be able to assess if the actual calibration method is suitable for the equipment used and measurements undertaken.

It would be great if such a super auditor existed, but chances are anyone armed with this full armoury of knowledge is employed in a far more lucrative and interesting field.


MG -

Yes I am but you never know about the auto industry.

I do want to be downsized but I would rather it was from a size 50 to a size 44. :biglaugh:



Same ol same ol

Dealing with a variety of companies that are auto related (QS), I find the auditors to be either scared to touch 4.20, or they are SPC doctorates that feel the SPC must done in the manner they think, on the material they think. I have seen them go so far as to tell management what to track, and what type of chart to use. In one case, the information was basically useless to the operation of the business, but they did it “to satisfy the auditor” (a poor reason to do anything!)

Ideally, Al is correct. A good auditor will verify 4.20, as he/she goes. It probably wouldn’t take long to determine if the methods used are understood and adequate.

M Greenaway

I think the best approach to auditing when in an area beyond your technical knowledge is to ask the auditee to justify (might not be the right word) the approach that they are using.

If they cannot then you have good reason to suspect the method utilised. If they can you can verify the reasons given simply from observation of the process. If you are happy with the justification move on.
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