Questioning Top Management on The Quality Policy during Internal Audits

kgott

Quite Involved in Discussions
#1
When we do internal audits we are likely to ask staff what the quality policy is and how what they do contributes to the achevement of the policy.

When we audit top management we might ask about things like:

[FONT=&quot]How do they know their system is effective?
What improvements have they initated?
Which processes do they have a direct impact on?
Which processes are the the people who report to them are responsible for?[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]Would it be somewhat cheeky, or even worse, to ask the top mangement person what the quality polciy is and how do they contribute the achievement of the policy?[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]Would I be regarded as a smart arse if I asked them what are the objectives of the quality policy were?[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]Why would I want to ask these questions? Well; our quality policy is a typical A4 page that, in my view, says a lot but commits to nothing so I would ask the top managment person this question to see how well they understood, interpreted it and thereore test their ability to communciate it to the lower orders. If they could not adequately answer the question, I would be trying to help them see that they may need to re-visist it and make it much more easy to understand and relate to by the rest of the staff and therefore make it easier to communiate.[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]I would ask about the objectives of the quality system to see if they match with answers given by other senior staff and others further down the chain and if other aswers don't match then it may indicate a failure or weakness in the policy.
[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]thanks in advance
[/FONT]
 
Last edited:
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Pancho

wikineer
Super Moderator
#2
[FONT=&quot]Would it be somewhat cheeky, or even worse, to ask the top mangement person what the quality polciy is and how do they contribute the achievement of the policy?[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]
[/FONT][FONT=&quot]Would I be regarded as a smart arse if I asked them what are the objectives of the quality policy were?[/FONT]
Hi Kgott,

That's not cheeky or "smart", just your job. It's management's responsibility to set the policy and ensure that objectives are established (ISO 9001 §5.1). The audit should establish compliance and raise NCs when any part of the system, including management, fails to meet requirements.

There's no harm in enjoying your job either. ;)

Pancho
 

Stijloor

Staff member
Super Moderator
#3
When we do internal audits we are likely to ask staff what the quality policy is and how what they do contributes to the achevement of the policy.

When we audit top management we might ask about things like:

[FONT=&quot]How do they know their system is effective?
What improvements have they initated?
Which processes do they have a direct impact on?
Which processes are the the people who report to them are responsible for?[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]Would it be somewhat cheeky, or even worse, to ask the top mangement person what the quality polciy is and how do they contribute the achievement of the policy?[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]Would I be regarded as a smart arse if I asked them what are the objectives of the quality policy were?[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]Why would I want to ask these questions? Well; our quality policy is a typical A4 page that, in my view, says a lot but commits to nothing so I would ask the top management person this question to see how well they understood, interpreted it and therefore test their ability to communicate it to the lower orders. If they could not adequately answer the question, I would be trying to help them see that they may need to re-visit it and make it much more easy to understand and relate to by the rest of the staff and therefore make it easier to communicate.[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]I would ask about the objectives of the quality system to see if they match with answers given by other senior staff and others further down the chain and if other answers don't match then it may indicate a failure or weakness in the policy.
[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]thanks in advance
[/FONT]
Attached is an exercise for Top Management. The questions can also be used during an actual internal audit.

Have fun!

Stijloor.
 

Attachments

somashekar

Staff member
Super Moderator
#4
Why would I want to ask these questions? Well; our quality policy is a typical A4 page that, in my view, says a lot but commits to nothing so I would ask the top managment person this question to see how well they understood, interpreted it and thereore test their ability to communciate it to the lower orders. If they could not adequately answer the question, I would be trying to help them see that they may need to re-visist it and make it much more easy to understand and relate to by the rest of the staff and therefore make it easier to communicate.
If you have a view such as you detail above and if there is a chance that the top management was not fully involved in the understanding and framing of the quality policy., why wait for the internal audit to take it up. Can you not meet and discuss this out with the top management directly or through the MR. I guess you are the MR.
Just as any other function, the top management also comes under competency, awareness and training.
 

kgott

Quite Involved in Discussions
#5
Thanks for your input Somashekar. Thats a good question and the answer is that I have already done that and I have suggested changes and an alternative policy.

One of the difficulties is that while we are the head office for Australia, we still come under the policy of the head office in the UK.

Another is that all the policies are formatted the same way using the same set out. Uniformity in content, structure and format is what is important and it just wouldnt do to have a one or two sentence quality policy as it would'nt sit right or look right compared to the others on the wall in foyer as you walk into this office area. Whe all other policys take up an A4 page the pictures etc, a one or two sentence policy with a couple of expansion paragraphs just would'nt do.

There is a little room for tweaking polices with regard to local legislation etc but little room for innovation and revolution in thinking.

I would suggest this a common problem in many places and not just here.

Thanks toStijloor I now have some questions to ask management which will hopefully get the message to them that if they don’t know or can't articulate the company policy how do they expect others to and how do they expect it to mean anything to the troops?

cheers
 

somashekar

Staff member
Super Moderator
#6
Thanks for your input Somashekar. Thats a good question and the answer is that I have already done that and I have suggested changes and an alternative policy.

One of the difficulties is that while we are the head office for Australia, we still come under the policy of the head office in the UK.

Another is that all the policies are formatted the same way using the same set out. Uniformity in content, structure and format is what is important and it just wouldnt do to have a one or two sentence quality policy as it would'nt sit right or look right compared to the others on the wall in foyer as you walk into this office area. Whe all other policys take up an A4 page the pictures etc, a one or two sentence policy with a couple of expansion paragraphs just would'nt do.

There is a little room for tweaking polices with regard to local legislation etc but little room for innovation and revolution in thinking.

I would suggest this a common problem in many places and not just here.

Thanks toStijloor I now have some questions to ask management which will hopefully get the message to them that if they don’t know or can't articulate the company policy how do they expect others to and how do they expect it to mean anything to the troops?

cheers
Whatever in the A4 from UK could be the vision statement / mission statement and let that be as is ...
Are you a part of the global certification of the head office at UK as a site ?

Yes / No.

If Yes: Get the explanation of the policy in terms of commitment to comply with requirements and continually improve the effectiveness of the quality management system, and a framework for establishing and reviewing quality objectives, and communicate such that all in your location / site understand it in the same meaning.

If No: Get your own quality policy that is communicated and understood in your site about aspects said above and is appropriate to the purpose of your division.

There is no any need that you have to hang on the wall a quality policy that you adopt to your organization.
 
J

JaneB

#7
Would it be somewhat cheeky, or even worse, to ask the top mangement person what the quality polciy is and how do they contribute the achievement of the policy?
I will sound a note of caution: tread both cautiously and carefully, and double - no triple if not quadruple that - if you are of an organisational standing below that of the senior management you are auditing.

Even if you aren't intending to/being cheeky, you may be perceived as being so, or stepping outside your boundaries.

OK, maybe it 'shouldn't' be like that, but in my experience it's only a culturally very open or reasonably advanced organisation that can deal with this and is open to internal auditors asking those kinds of questions - some have enough trouble with being asked 'em by external auditors.

I would take great care to set a context for any such questions and explain what you are aiming to elicit from them, because one of the big dangers an internal auditor has to constantly be wary of is being thought/seen to tell managers how to do their job, or that they are not doing a good job. Be wary and be wise.
 

kgott

Quite Involved in Discussions
#8
I will sound a note of caution: tread both cautiously and carefully, and double - no triple if not quadruple that - if you are of an organisational standing below that of the senior management you are auditing.

Even if you aren't intending to/being cheeky, you may be perceived as being so, or stepping outside your boundaries.

OK, maybe it 'shouldn't' be like that, but in my experience it's only a culturally very open or reasonably advanced organisation that can deal with this and is open to internal auditors asking those kinds of questions - some have enough trouble with being asked 'em by external auditors.

I would take great care to set a context for any such questions and explain what you are aiming to elicit from them, because one of the big dangers an internal auditor has to constantly be wary of is being thought/seen to tell managers how to do their job, or that they are not doing a good job. Be wary and be wise.

Thanks for that Jane, I was wondering about that. I guess I need to be very tactful should I proceed down that path.

I'm thinking that I will go about it using a back door method, by using an audit I will be doing in the next week or so in which I will asking about policy issues. (which I have learned from the cove.)

thanks -k
 
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