Who should be present during certification audits (ISO 9001/14001)?



Do you have any opinion of who should be present during certification audits (ISO 9001/14001)? i.e. ceo, managers, specialists, internal auditors/trainee, others...

Problems is that to many people present during the audit can be disadvantage when auditee is a tense person, but for another auditee it can be a support or even enjoyment.

Any comments? Do you use any special method? Does your registrars control this?
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I try to get as many of our executive staff as possible to the opening and closing meeting. I think this is one way to show the auditor your management is serious about it.

The actual audit should be attended by only those who can contribute to the area being audited. Sometimes, a guide (often the MR) is enough. The auditor meets all the appropriate people at the opening then they are dismissed until they might be needed.

Works well for us.


Randy Stewart

It is good to show management backing, but as D. S. stated, to many can confuse the process. We have been doing this certification stuff for a few years now and our auditors know our system. The management staff is present for the opening meeting but as for the audit, they make themselves available if needed (Management Review, etc.). We go through the schedule before the auditors show up and set up interviewees ect. If any changes need to be made it is done up front before the opening meeting. For the most part, being the MR, I take care of the audits and get assistance from the facility reps.


I agree with everyone above about the opening and closing meeting. I do like to have internal auditors tag along on parts of the audit. I have found it is good training for them to observe the registration audit process. I do keep it to only one per auditor to prevent having a huge group of people wandering the building. Normally it is the auditor, escort, consultant (myself), an internal auditor observer and the person being audited for the particular element.


Aaron Lupo

Not trying to be mean but as an auditor for a couple registrars I prefer not to have the consultant there. Why you ask? Most of the time, they are answering questions and they shouldn’t be, it is not there system it belongs to the company being audited. I don’t care if the consultant knows the answer I need the people that are using the system to be able to explain/answer. Now don’t get me wrong if the consultant wants to tag along that is fine as long as they keep quiet.

Other than that IMHO I would say at the opening it is usually the Managers and above and the closing it is not unusual to have as many people attend as can fit in the room. The inbetween part, a guide and the area being audited and the area being audited is usually all you need. Not a bad idea to have new internal auditors tag along for the experience. Just try to keep things to a minimum, I am sure you don't want a parade marching thru the plant.
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I don't think it should matter how the "consultant" gets paid to determine if they should be present at the audit. Just because someone gets paid as a contractor or as a supplier, it should not matter. If a VP tags along for the whole audit and tries to answer questions for every machine operator, it is the same problem.

I am very well behaved consultant during audits. I usually get the standard warning from every auditor at the beginning of each audit, at least until they get to know me. I typically don't answer anything unless I am directly asked. For some of my clients I am part of their system, such as their internal auditor, so I am the auditee on occasion. I had a QS audit yesterday and the only two times I spoke up were:

1. Auditor was claiming that segregation of lots between samples until checked was a requirement. I agreed it is good practice, but not required as you could sort 10 lots instead of 1 if they got mixed up, as long as all are segregated and identified. Client decided to add it to his work instruction anyway, so no big issue.

2. Direct questions about the internal audit I did for them.

I will speak up if I see that my client is "lost" by the question and more or less restate what the auditor asked in terms they will understand. Sometimes I get direct questions like "why did you do it that way". If my client is struggling because they don't know the answer, I let them struggle. I agree they have to be familiar with the system and won't have me around all the time to answer questions. I will also stop my client from arguing if there is a true nonconformance and tell the auditor to go ahead and write it.

I actually asked an auditor to write a minor nonconformance on one of my clients on a QS/TE audit. After six months of myself and the quality manager fighting with the owner to clean up his shop he did not make much progress. He had so much junk stacked up that it was a safety hazard. The auditor was also concerned it was so bad. I felt the only person the owner would listen to at that point was the auditor, so I took him aside and told him I thought it was a good idea to write it to wake him up. Ended up with a closed door meeting with the owner and auditor alone to discuss it instead of a nonconformance.

Overall I tend to find audit days very boring. If everything is going well I usually try to find an empty office to do some other work and check in every so often. After observing so many there is not much excitement, unless I get a "bad" auditor and do have to challenge interpretations.


Aaron Lupo

Tom I agree that if you do things for them besides consulting, such as the internal audits then you are free to respond. However, it is more often that you need to ask the consultant to please not respond to the questions. Although IMHO I think it is crazy to pay someone to do you internal audits, but hey to each their own. If they need to have the question asked a different way that is ok or if the auditor is way off in left field with his/her interpretation sure speak up. Just do anwser the question for them.
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