Surprise audits by registrars

Howard Atkins

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Staff member
This is a post on my plastics and quality forum.

Can any one help?

Is it true that our registrar can show up at anytime to conduct an unannounced audit or is this just a scare tactic our Mgmt Rep is using?
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IMHO the registrar can show up any time. That doesn't mean you have to let them in.

Every registrar I have worked with on any level has made it clear that they do not show up unannounced. I will admit there is a difference between CAN and WILL.

BUT - check the registrar's requirements. I have seen where a registrar has requirements which are different from just plain vanilla ISO900x requirements (personally I would stay away from such registrars.

I would say the Management Rep is blowing smoke. Or is just plain stupid... Pretty stupid 'scare' tactic.


When recently were recommended for certification and the agreement said they CAN do suprise audits. However we were told that they never do unless they have some very strong suspecisons that something underhanded is going on. Our auditor had been a lead auditor for 10+ years and had never done a suprize audit.


Fully vaccinated are you?
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This is a good example of Read your Registrar's Requirements before you sign them on. As mchclark pointed out in their registrar's requirements there was an agreement that they can do that - I've seen the same thing in several registrar contracts - but I've never heard of a registrar actually stopping by without warning to audit.

I suspect they wouldn't stop by without warning to audit unless, as mchclark stated, there was strong suspician of fraud or similar.

Don Winton

ISO 10011 states that the client should be notified when an audit will be conducted. I will admit, however, that there is a distinction in the term client. And, ISO 10011 is a guidance document. As Marc stated, be sure to check the contract before signing. Surprise audits are indeed rare, and would not be conducted unless the registrar suspected something. I suspect that if, during an interview or site visit, the registrar observed something that would make them suspect things were not on the up-and-up, then they may be inclined to send in an assessor unannounced.

As far as the original post is concerned, I suspect that the Management Rep is using this to try to intimidate persons within the orginization. I agree with Marc...a pretty stupid scare tactic.

Best Regards,

Leslie Garon

It may be a stupid scare tactic, but it sure is effective during implementation. I have seen too many times when Associates treat ISO or QS as just another flavor of the year and look at it apatheticly<sp>.

Yes, I know :( this is a management problem, but all too frequently it is left to the implementation team to get the Associates to build ISO/QS into their daily routine.

Even though the auditor will not show up as a surprise in most cases, when left with no alternative, it provides backbone.


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I've always told clients that registrars do not make surprise visits unless they suspect fraud. I disagree with your use of the threat as a hammer.

Yes - it can be hard to 'cheer lead' the folks to really accept ISO/QS. I do use the hammer of the "They will be back every 6 months." And, when I do employee awareness I make it clear that ISO is not only applicable to their company. I tell them to look through want ads in their local paper where they will see more and more jobs listed with something to the effect of "ISO9000 experience preferred". This works real well. I tell them no matter where they go next (every company has turn over) ISO may really make a difference in getting the job and that often there is even a pay differential. They tend to start listening about this time.

Leslie Garon


Please don't mis-intrupret<sp> my post. It is a last resort that has been used mostly in respect to internal auditing in a few client companies.


Fully vaccinated are you?
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Yeah - my big hammer has been to threaten to quit as consultant. I've done it several times to the plant manager or other local top dog. You do risk actually loosing a client, but you save your professionalism, if you will. Example: I was hired by a quality manager. After 2 months of no progress I made an appointment with the plant manager and explained the reality. I told him there was no reason for me to come back again and that they were (in so many words) sitting on their asses. We briefly discussed the situation and at the next management meeting (a weekly weeting) he made it clear that the project plan I had laid out was not a joke and that each person's future with the company was at stake. One person said "I can't do it" and the discussion that followed was not nice and included a threat of being fired. He said what I tell people when a project first starts (I got the idea from him, in fact):

"You can tell me you need resources. You can tell me you need time. If you need resources and/or time you must only detail what you need in writing and I will address each issue with you and I will make sure you have what you need. But - if I ever hear 'I can't do it' out of anyone that person will be fired."

I don't use the 'fired' part, but I do practically yell that they have to detail what they need and they will get it.

I left a project with a plant of a very, very big international (which shall remain nameless here) about 2 years ago because they didn't want to move on with the project (upper management). I explained I have a reputation to maintain and that I had no intention of taking their money and then getting blamed for their failure.

I have never had a problem getting the rank and file to go along with the project program with the exception of an individual here and there (I call them whiners or hecklers). In fact in my 'rantings' within some of the pages on my site I cite failure of management as the single greatest cause of implementation failures and that they often make the effort cost many, many times (I'm afraid to venture a per centage guess) more than it needs to. I watched one company jetting exects all over the country to meetings and they didn't get shit done. In the mean time they balked at things like costs involved in getting the cal lab up to par. They had a 'reduce inspections and tests' theory from some years ago. With that theory was their belief that the cal lab was of minor importance... Their meetings cost more than the lab upgrade eventually did. They pissed and moaned every time you turned around.

Yup - how to get upper management motivated and focused is about on par with getting kids motivated and focused.They do what they damn well please for as long as they can.
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