Switching Registrars (A 'Life Long' Relationship?) and Problems for Auditors

Have you exprienced switching registrars?


  • Total voters
    14

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#1
From: Brian Charles Kohn
Subject: RE: ISO Conflict of Interest /MacKenzie/Taormina/Kohn

> What was an absolute in 1990 is, today, an opportunity. The latest "absolute"
> to crumble is that once you have selected a registrar, you are lifelong
> partners. Lately, some registrars are approaching registered companies and
> giving them a pitch of lower prices, better service and they will accept the
> other guy's certificate. Is this an ethical shift?

This avenue has always been open, but you are correct that folks have been taking that tack much more in recent years. I don't see it as a bad thing, however, because it forces inefficient registrars with tons of useless, non-value-added overhead, to either shape up or ship out.

> I've worked with six or seven of the big boys. What I have seen is that the
> auditor gene pool is shrinking and the number of really talented auditors is
> dwindling. For one reason, it is a burnout job, traveling constantly and
> trying to control costs.

Nail. Hammer. Hit on head.

I was one of those who simply walked away from "a very promising career" in ISO 9000 registration. As I've indicated before, I was a manager for one of the "big boys" as you put it, even at that level that type of work is just not worth it, at any salary level (even six-figures...)

> Second, there is pressure on the auditors to "keep the customer happy."

This wasn't the secondary reason for me. Rather, I asked myself the question, "Was this what I got my university degrees for?" I was an engineer by training and by preference, and the only engineering I got to do as an auditor was writing the software that controlled the workflow for the administrative and field-auditing functions of the registrar. I don't know many folks, especially engineers, who envisioned themselves spending their career as an auditor instead of a designer.

> I'm going to stick my neck out and offer an opinion (and it is just my
> educated opinion) that the decay will continue because we do not have a
> professional body of consultants and registrars setting and enforcing ethical
> standards ...

Perhaps, but I will go out on a limb here and say that I think a more critical source of decay will come from the tendency for folks who are technically excellent to want to do the technical work, rather than auditing.

Brian
 
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Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#2
Charley's 2 cents:

From: Charley Scalies
Subject: Re: ISO Conflict of Interest /MacKenzie/Taormina/Scalies

> Subject: Re: ISO Conflict of Interest /MacKenzie/Taormina
>
SNIPS
> The proliferation of registrars has led to a wider range of knowledge and
> experience, again causing an "apparent" decline in ethics. The more folks you
> get in a competitive industry, the more they will push the envelope to find
> ways to win jobs and make customers happy.

IMHO, the "decline in ethics" (if that is truly what it is) is more a result of registrars reacting to what most customers want than in the numbers of registrars, although the latter is contributory. Enough customers (a majority? an overwhelming majority?) want registration for its real or perceived marketing advantages. Enough of them (all of them?) know or quickly learn that their customers will not pay higher prices to firms with registered quality systems, that their customers will not bar unregistered firms from competing, and that customers of registered firms who used to visit regularly to perform on site quality surveys still do, and that customers who didn't, still don't.

Is this "driver" any different than the reason many (most?) people pick colleges? Do they decide to go primarily for the education or for the degree? Do they select the school for its ability to educate them, or for the job-marketing advantages its degree might offer? (For most starting level positions, how many firms really care where your degree was from, and if they say they do, how many of them verify it - or the grades?) Do they pay a higher price for a better education, or do they pick the lowest price for the degree they want?

> I'm going to stick my neck out and offer an opinion (and it is just my
> educated opinion) that the decay will continue because we do not have a
> professional body of consultants and registrars setting and enforcing ethical
> standards (RAB will have nothing to do with consultants and appears to be more
> preoccupied with selling its wares than with the state of Q9000 in the US). Do
> I hear the ground swelling and volunteers coming forward to implement such a
> professional group or are we all going to sit by and watch the industry decay
> and rot?

Count me in, although I really believe we might be a voice crying in the wilderness. Or worse, be perceived as Don Quixote de la Mancha: one more idealist with nearsighted madness bearing messages no one wants to hear. If the registration system is diseased, our industry, i.e. consultants, would be advised not to bed down with any registrar. Otherwise, we shall only rot when we ignore what our customers want, or we will deserve to rot if we ever do them harm.

Charley
 

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#3
I believe this was the 'source' of the above responses:

----------snippo----------

Subject: Re: ISO Conflict of Interest /MacKenzie/Taormina
Date: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 09:55:51 -0600
From: ISO Standards Discussion

Subject: Re: ISO Conflict of Interest /MacKenzie/Taormina

Having been an ISO 9000 observer and implementer since 1989, I have witnessed the evolution of the moving ethic of conflict of interest. Early on, in the US, when there were but a few registrars, they ruled with an iron hand and there was little ambiguity in auditing and there was a concrete wall between consulting and auditing.

A number of the registrars saw additional $$$ to be harvested in consulting and tried to start internal consulting groups. Although the best of intentions were stated, those I was witness to fell victim to business pragmatism and the concrete wall turned to Jell-O and, inevitably, the consulting service was discontinued.

Fast forward to the last few years. The number of registrars has grown and imposed a great deal of competitive pressure. What happens when competition increases? We look for new marketing tools to get our share of the client base. Some of the creative marketing has led to "apparent" decline in ethics. What was an absolute in 1990 is, today, an opportunity. The latest "absolute" to crumble is that once you have selected a registrar, you are lifelong partners. Lately, some registrars are approaching registered companies and giving them a pitch of lower prices, better service and they will accept the other guy's certificate. Is this an ethical shift?

The proliferation of registrars has led to a wider range of knowledge and experience, again causing an "apparent" decline in ethics. The more folks you get in a competitive industry, the more they will push the envelope to find ways to win jobs and make customers happy.

I've worked with six or seven of the big boys. What I have seen is that the auditor gene pool is shrinking and the number of really talented auditors is dwindling. For one reason, it is a burnout job, traveling constantly and trying to control costs. Second, there is pressure on the auditors to "keep the customer happy." I had a recent example where a client confided in me that their registrar left a number of nonconformities off the surveillance report and made an agreement with the quality rep to fix the non-documented findings informally. The rationale was that this is a large company and the senior management sees ISO 9000 certification as a big overhead expense and the registrar does not want to intimidate senior management with too many findings. IMHO, this is a decay in ethics.

In witnessing recent certification and surveillance audits with my client companies, I have noted many more contract auditors. Each time, at least one of the auditors slips me a personal business card and asks to be called if I need any consulting help. This is another erosion of ethics. The last two conferences I attended were rich with anecdotal tales of similar compromises in registrar-consulting ethics.

I'm going to stick my neck out and offer an opinion (and it is just my educated opinion) that the decay will continue because we do not have a professional body of consultants and registrars setting and enforcing ethical standards (RAB will have nothing to do with consultants and appears to be more preoccupied with selling its wares than with the state of Q9000 in the US). Do I hear the ground swelling and volunteers coming forward to implement such a professional group or are we all going to sit by and watch the industry decay and rot?

Tom Taormina, Certified Quality Manager
 

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#4
Subject: COMMENT: ISO Conflict of Interest/Speiser
Date: Tue, 6 Apr 1999 12:31:33 -0600
From: ISO Standards Discussion

From: Kelly Speiser
Subject: COMMENT: ISO Conflict of Interest/Speiser

I have haphazardly followed the thread on this subject until I (a consultant) was attending a client's 5th surveillance audit. The following scenario happened just this week and is very bothersome to me. I'm disappointed as is my client: (I'm apologize this is a long post message)

a) The day before the audit, the auditor phoned to ask if noon was a better time rather than 8:00 am for him to arrive. My client said that it was okay. My client figured that he wouldn't have to provide the auditor lunch in this case.

b) The auditor phones 11:15 am using his car cell phone and informs my client to provide his lunch when he gets there. My client grumbles that he would not dare do that to any of his customers.

c) During the opening meeting, the auditor re-schedules the day's audit activities. Day 1 which was originally 1 manday is squeezed into 0.5, Day 2 which was 0.5 manday remains as such. The requirement was 1.5 manday's.

d) At the end, the reporting documents the auditor uses to file with his registrar states that 1.5 manday was consumed and no alterations to the schedule. =20

e) My client does not want to pay for 1.5 manday's since only 1 occurred. Since only 1 manday occurred the overnight expense seem a luxury for the auditor.

My client has been disappointed with skimed over, chit chatty and not very serious audits and auditors but the event above has really caused my client to question the value of the money he spends on ISO maintenance.

Kelly Speiser
 

barb butrym

Quite Involved in Discussions
#5
Report the auditor, you need to get what you pay for, and what is required. If the auditors actions are in question, what does that do for your client's cert? Certainly doesn't command the respect it should ( through no fault of its own)as word does get around....I know when I see some "names"....sure makes me loose respect, worse yet, I know which auditors to refuse as many are shared.
I had a client audit last week......I knew the auditor,,,,and the lead auditor, After the audit was closed, I wrote a request to have one of them removed from the pool for the surveillance visits, as well as any future teams for my clients. I have audited her clients in the past, and will be doing one soon. She was an OK auditor, but I didn't like her style. It was a painful audit for the auditees individually. She was looking for her way, and we had to wrestle all the way through it. I know it was her lack of experience, but so be it, I don't want my clients to have the hassle. They work too hard too long to add that to the stress of the audit. As long as it is done professionally, it should be done, by all means.
 
D

Don Winton

#7
Gotta go with barb on this one. The client is well within their rights to report the auditor and to request that this particular auditor be removed from the pool for this client.

As far as Brian’s, Charley’s and Tom’s posts go: Have they correctly illustrated the state of the industry?

As far as the RAB goes, I am not EVEN going to go into my opinion of that.

Regards,
Don
 
D

David Guffey

#8
Any registrar out there had better be offering value-added for their audit process. Any auditor had better provide added value during that process. If as a client you do not perceive you have received "value-added", complain. Request a different auditor for the next visit. Communicate your expectations to your registrar. And, above all, don't be overly defensive. Perhaps you DID receive added value in those "minor" findings. Can you see it?
 

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#9
Shades of the past!

Just wondering - How many of you have switched registrars?
 
#10
Oh yes, and for good reason too.

Marc said:
How many of you have switched registrars?
We certainly did... because we had to: Our previous registrar went from bad to worse by no longer providing audits of any value. They made no effort to find something to improve anymore...

/Claes
 
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