What do you do when your Auditor crosses the line to Consulting?

LRE67

Involved In Discussions
#1
I'm just curious how people handle auditors who cross the line from auditing to "consulting" (which they are not supposed to do).

Do you bring it to their attention during the audit? I think that would be like going out in the woods and slapping a bear on the a$$. In either case the end results probably wouldn't be in your favor. :nope:

Complaining to your Registrar probably wouldn't do much good either. If they get reprimanded by their boss, then the next time they come in, it will be on a sour note. I realize you can request a new auditor if its early on in your audit cycle, but sometimes this problem doesn't arise in the first or second audit or you hope it was just an incidental thing and might not happen again.
 
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qualitypirate

#2
Re: What do you do when your auditor crosses the line?

Smile, nod, and later disregard. If they try to ding you on something ask for the ISO shall clause. If it is not in the standard or in your procedures my way of understanding says its none of their business. For example, our Auditor does not really like that we do not have concrete job titles. My workplace is a job shop and the phrase "that's not my job" doesn't exist, so we keep things very loose and informal and it works for us. Every audit he says something and every year we tell him we will evaluate his suggestions based on how business evolves in the coming year. If you do what you say you do and that corresponds to the standard, you are golden.
 
#3
Re: What do you do when your auditor crosses the line?

Can you give us some idea of what you believe is "consulting"? It may have been a relatively innocently offered statement, which you might not agree with which has provoked you... jus' sayin'

If the tone of the auditor was somewhat different, "it's not what you say, it's the way it was said..."

Sure, address it to the auditor. Tell them it's confusing to management to hear those things and to "stick to the script". If they don't get it, certainly escalate it. The fact is that if they truly ARE "consulting", then other clients may not know enough to say anything and if that goes on, unchecked, it can have a horrible effect. Do't worry about retribution - a CB who would let an auditor take it out on you isn't worth employing - change auditors and if needed, change CBs it's as simple as that. BTW - not all CBs care that much about the backgrounds of the auditors they employ, so they don't take care to avoid such situations, because they don't invest in the auditor...
 

LRE67

Involved In Discussions
#4
Re: What do you do when your auditor crosses the line?

Without going into a lot of detail, this particular auditor likes to mark up our process maps with things that they are used to seeing at other places. It's true we could view that as a "suggestion", but at the next audit we're questioned as to why we didn't change things the way it was marked up. No findings were ever written because everything meets the intent of the standard. But just because it wasn't done their way they get a little testy.
There's also a fine line between "Opportunity For Improvement" and telling you how to run your business.
 

John Broomfield

Staff member
Super Moderator
#5
Re: What do you do when your auditor crosses the line?

LRE67,

Remind the auditor of the audit objective. That is what the auditor is paid to fulfill in the limited time available.

Take a dim view of the auditor providing tips learned from other auditees. After all you want to keep your competitive advantages for as long as you can unless you are so far ahead of your competitors you can afford to give it away.

John
 

Frankie11

Involved In Discussions
#6
Re: What do you do when your auditor crosses the line?

What actually is the difference between consulting and suggesting opportunities for improvement?

My auditors suggest things all the time. Though they don't expect / demand I implement them.
 
#7
Re: What do you do when your auditor crosses the line?

Without going into a lot of detail, this particular auditor likes to mark up our process maps with things that they are used to seeing at other places. It's true we could view that as a "suggestion", but at the next audit we're questioned as to why we didn't change things the way it was marked up. No findings were ever written because everything meets the intent of the standard. But just because it wasn't done their way they get a little testy.
There's also a fine line between "Opportunity For Improvement" and telling you how to run your business.
Then it's simple. Tell your CB contact you either don't want the auditor back, for those very reasons, or ask if that's standard practice and were they aware the auditor is doing it? Either way, tell your CB's management YOU don't appreciate the auditor taking liberties like this. Request someone who DOESN'T do this, and if they come from further away, you'll ONLY pay the travel costs you were paying...
 

Hershal

Metrologist-Auditor
Staff member
Super Moderator
#8
AndyN has some good advice.

From the other side, Auditors and Assessors truly struggle with this very issue often. Each Registrar and each Accrediting Body (AB) may have - slightly - different limits as to what is consulting. EA (Recognized Region of ILAC) Signatory ABs, for example, tend to take the view that any offered advice is consulting. US ABs tend to allow some description of what the assessor has seen elsewhere - NOT binding, but as ONE POSSIBLE way to improve.

If a suggestion is offered in that manner, then I believe it is fair. If it could become an issue at the next audit, then it needs to be stated as a Concern rather than a Comment (terms I used assessing).

If, as you suggest, such suggestions are made and then you are hit the next time, that is a CLEAR violation of ethics.

If you witness such behavior, bring it up to the auditor immediately. Also follow up with correspondence to the Registrar/AB (depends on type audit), as it may be a simple training issue. If you get no response from the Registrar, then forward a formal complaint to their AB. If no response from the AB, then lodge a formal complaint with ILAC or IAF. If an accreditation assessment, then ILAC (ISO/IEC 17025/17020). If an ISO9001 and similar, then it will be IAF.

The reason to be hard line? This kind of behavior that crosses ethical lines cannot be tolerated if Auditors/Assessors are to deliver that type of audit/assessment they should and if they are to be trusted.

The ABs and Registrars generally try to police it, but there are always gaps. That is where the customer comes in and can help.

Hope this helps.
 

John Broomfield

Staff member
Super Moderator
#10
LRE67,

Would repeated requests by auditee's for advice from their auditors be evidence of system weakness?

Likewise, are some if not all OFIs evidence of system weakness?

Any dependence of the management system on its auditors is to be discouraged in favor of strengthening the management system.

John
 
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