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Author Topic:   Evaluating Auditors
Steven Sulkin
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From:Columbus, Ohio
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posted 18 October 1999 03:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steven Sulkin   Click Here to Email Steven Sulkin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am putting together a survey for internal use to evaluate auditors. My idea is to have the (short) survey handed out to auditees to give the auditor feedback. I will collect these surveys and use them to develop coursework and direct auditor meeting discussions.

I would appreciate some ideas and questions. Here is what I have so far...
I would appreciate your opinion on this. I am trying to develop a satisfaction survey for auditors. Here is the list so far....

The auditor knows the standard.
The auditor gave me some valuable suggestions on how to improve my area.
The auditor gave a good feel for how my system is operating from the perspective of the standard.
The auditorās questions were logical and clear.
I felt like the auditor was here to help me.

and an overall...

The audit was worth the time invested.

Thanks,

Steve.

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Dusty
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From:Albany, GA, USA
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posted 18 October 1999 06:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dusty   Click Here to Email Dusty     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
The auditor gave me some valuable suggestions on how to improve my area.

Steven,
Confused on this statement/question. During our class on lead auditing, we were told NOT to consult. Have just recently gone through this class, so granted have not the experience as others...just wondering about this.

------------------
Dusty Rhoads
(Chief Dummy)


[This message has been edited by Dusty (edited 18 October 1999).]

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Marc Smith
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posted 18 October 1999 08:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Marc Smith   Click Here to Email Marc Smith     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Lead Auditor course is distinct from internal auditing.

I don't have any advice on the survey off hand. I can say that "The auditor knows the standard" isn't really valid - how do they know if you know the spec? Few auditees would have any idea. Same for "The auditor gave a good feel for how my system is operating from the perspective of the standard." I have seen "The auditor gave me some valuable suggestions on how to improve my area" piss people off because they don't see the connection - sounds like someone who doesn't even work in the area is telling them how do do their job (or whatever).

I applaud the feedback idea, however more common is where it's hard enough to get the audits done period, much less time for a survey. Let us know how this works out for you!

I'm not really trying to be negative - just some thoughts.

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barb butrym
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posted 19 October 1999 08:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for barb butrym   Click Here to Email barb butrym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
YUP...Lead auditor is a different animal..."consulting" does not apply to 1st party stuff. An internal auditor is a great way to add "value".

The survey....hmmmmm.. I have to agree with marc on the "know the standard" stuff..and I too like the idea of feedback.

Maybe an independant observer would provide the feedback you need on true understanding of the standard...maybe each auditor is observed once for each "round" Or even an evaluation of the report, if the report is comprehensive, would show that.

Do the auditors need to understand the standards in depth, or is the 'standard/scope' your internal system? If its the internal system, then the auditee may be able to answer the question. I would guess its both...the more experienced auditors will know the 'standard' as well as the internal system requirements.

Every company is different.....I say try it, then work it to fit your company culture.

dusty...you're no dummy, chief or not. A course is just the 1st step...experience will make the difference. AND the only truley dumb question is the one not asked!!!

[This message has been edited by barb butrym (edited 19 October 1999).]

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Steven Sulkin
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posted 19 October 1999 08:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steven Sulkin   Click Here to Email Steven Sulkin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am thinking about a short survey that should take no more than a few minutes (7questions?). The internal audits are a pain in the butt sometimes. I believe the auditees would appreciate the opportunity to shape the function into something more valuable for themselves.

Thanks for your points. I would agree with Marc- internal audits are different from 3rd or 2nd party.

To your comment about some people being sensitive to advice from outsiders--

Our folks have been audited for going on six years now. Management has bought into the idea, and the employees see how much we have changed (for the better) with ISO9001. I am very happy to say we are over that (not completely of course. There will always be 5% that dont want to change). We expect the auditors to be experts on the standard. We expect that they will show us how to improve by using it to our advantage. I am going to be investing in more training for them to be able to do that. I need this tool in place to provide a baseline and feedback through the development process.

Good feedback on knowing the standard. I didnt think of that. I want the auditors to know how to use the standard as a tool. We have all had the experience of implementing a beaurocratic policy to meet the standard. Eventually we learn how to meet the intent and add value to the company. This is where I want them to be. Besides training I also want to participate in benchmarking opportunities locally to help them think outside the box. Wouldnt you agree that most auditees would be delighted if you could show them a better way- to meet the intent and still add value?

I hope so. We will see.

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Steven Sulkin
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posted 19 October 1999 08:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steven Sulkin   Click Here to Email Steven Sulkin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
To Dusty's comment... you are correct, 2nd and 3rd party auditors should not tell the auditee how to do their job. Unfortunately, many 2nd party folks do. But I have been very happy with auditors who have given examples of how other companies have met the same intent (as an example only).

Good luck in your new role. Dont spend all those frequent fliers in one place!

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Kevin Mader
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posted 19 October 1999 09:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kevin Mader   Click Here to Email Kevin Mader     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
*The auditor knows the standard.

Is the auditee in a position to make this distinction?


*The auditor gave me some valuable suggestions on how to improve my area.

On an internal audit, the auditor may offer advice. However, as mentioned above, the auditee may interpret this differently and do more harm than good. My opinion, internal auditors should not give advice as Dusty pointed out.

*The auditor gave a good feel for how my system is operating from the perspective of the standard.

Feedback is important, especially positive feedback. This can be a dangerous area though, as the feedback may go beyond the scope of the audit or standard ( the auditor may end up offering advice).

*The auditorās questions were logical and clear.

A good question. The purpose of the audit is not to fool or confuse the auditee, but to get down to suitability, compliance, and effectiveness.

*I felt like the auditor was here to help me.

Another good question. This is a continuous improvement tool and not an inquisition.

Back to the group...

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Laura M
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posted 19 October 1999 09:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Laura M   Click Here to Email Laura M     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
At a large company, "internal customer satisfaction" is a useful tool and I think that is what your survey idea is getting at. Typically "support functions" (i.e. quality auditors) have a hard time making the manufacturing side appreciate their existance (my experience, anyways). So the survey idea is a good one from that point of view.
I always felt that my internal auditors were. in a sense, "training" during the audit. If something didn't comply, then the auditor needed to site the element, or company procedure (which hopefully tied to an element or company objective!) That can be how you get at the "auditor knows the standard." Maybe a question on "the auditor fully explained non-conformance received" - something the auditor may walk away thinking they did, but maybe the area didn't quite "get it".
I always liked a question that had to do with being cordial, as well. This comes somewhat from a 3rd party experience, but works for internal audits as well. If I can dig up the one I used (in a previous life) I'll post it here for everyone.

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John C
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posted 20 October 1999 08:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for John C   Click Here to Email John C     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Steven,
When you set out to do something, it's always a good idea to consider why you are doing it. In fact, it's better to have identified a need and then looked at the optional ways of achieving it.
What is your objective? To do a survey? or to find out how good your audit is?
Now I think there are a number of ways to find out how good your audit is. The best is to judge the effectiveness of the audit by identifying objective improvement data, if that is possible. The next, I'd say, is at the audit closing meeting, where you can hear and see the response of your auditee management team. Do they mean it when they thank you? Or are they just showing relief it's all over for another couple of months?
You can ask them at the meeting, when you have the most leverage - It helps if you make sure their boss or their bosses boss is there. You can ask them to gather the concerns and positive points of their people who were audited.
But I would keep individuals and personalities out of it. Stick to judging only the process, as we auditors do, and avoid threatening or upsetting the audit team.
The method of feedback you propose seems to come from operator or supervisor level. For reasons given in responses above, eg Dusty says 'don't consult'(if you do you take responsibilty for all the trouble that happens in future). 'The auditees don't know the standard'. 'Your auditors knowledge of the standard is limited and when questioned will show cracks' (like the rest of us).
My main concern is that you may be storing up a heap of trouble and getting little in return;
No-one likes being reviewed, least of all by someone neither qualified, nor in a position of authority to do so. Your auditors are going to feel threatened every time they audit. Already they feel under pressure to produce results (ie NCs), now every action and word will be judged. The auditees will have being given a weapon to fight back.
Will the auditors avoid audits in future? Not volunteer? Look for another job?
Will they respond by being aggressive? or too lenient? Avoid troublesome areas? Go back and get revenge next time?
Will the auditees settle old scores? Respond to NCs by arguing and turning the tables on the auditor by pointing out their weaknesses? Will they finish up insulting each other and throwing eggs?
Will your superiors see all this stuff in the reports and decide that you would be better off doing something else? maybe somewhere else?
I don't like it. Sounds like a lot of hassle, even a minefield, and even if you guide it wisely and your organisation is the sort of place where it can be used, I see no obvious gains to come from it.
Certainly look for feeback but don't lose the upper hand. Be prepared to defend your area against attack if it is seen as the opportunity to do so, after all, it's your job to make the decisions and, when you're interfering in other people's areas, they'll soon enough put you down if the opportunity arises. Work closely with them. Don't put questions in their mouths and doubts in everyone's heads. Tell them how good your team is and help them understand how their input might make it even better.
rgds,
John C

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Kevin Mader
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posted 20 October 1999 12:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kevin Mader   Click Here to Email Kevin Mader     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
JC,

I have noticed your return. I hope things are still going well with your recent endeavour.

You raise a good point about keeping the process open and honest. Auditing has carried the bad stigma of being a policing action. Hard for improvement to occurr if folks are going to clam up when being audited. Although I sell auditing as a CI tool in my own organization, skepticism is still rooted in areas. Would a survey improve things? Difficult to say for all cases, but my thinking here is that it wouldn't generate much useful data in my facility(I agree, data must have value if you are to measure it). I guess I would rather have one-on-one discussions to generate an opinion. Your mention of the use of the exit meeting is a good suggestion. While there is still some danger in that, you won't necessarily get back a fluff coated survey. It would be easier to skirt the truth in a survey for fear of reprisal.

Regards,

Kevin

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Steven Sulkin
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posted 20 October 1999 03:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steven Sulkin   Click Here to Email Steven Sulkin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting feedback. Good point about the closing meeting. Now that I think about it, we really dont take good advantage of closing meetings. I will look at changing the meeting format.

Per the survey- I have had a lot of success (with previous employer) on internal departmental surveys. Its like a 360 degree performance appraisal, except it applies for departments. Instead of surveying all auditees I may look at auditing only main internal customers.

Bottom line is, I have to know if the group is adding value. I have to know that my main internal customers feel like they are getting good service. The auditing function needs to be accountable for the value they add just like every other area. The survey should give us good feedback on how we are doing, what we need to improve, and if we are getting better. Assuming, of course, the tool is well developed.

If we were to put together such a survey, one that is distributed to main internal customers (e.g. manufacturing manager, VP-Research and Development, Lab Manager, etc), what questions would you recommend to evaluate the auditor function? Again, my objective is to determine if the audit is adding value and what can be improved.

Can we come up with seven questions?

To start this off- we would need one overall question to gauge satifaction over time.

How about-
"The audit was worth the time invested."

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Kevin Mader
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posted 20 October 1999 06:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kevin Mader   Click Here to Email Kevin Mader     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Steve,

In general, quality auditing is considered to be a preventive cost of quality and a value added activity (it works towards improving the system that product/services are offered under). To your point though, how much of a value are you getting? Could you be getting more.

Your survey may get you some useful data. The thought that keeps going through my mind though is something I read from Deming. How does a patient know the quality of service he receives from a Dentist? His point was that the Client wouldn't necessarily know the difference between a good or bad job. The same could be said of a Client of a Quality Audit (even your major internal Clients). While certainly they will know what they like and dislike, will they be in a position to give you useful data? As I said earlier, they will probably give you some feedback that is useful. I guess the warning here is this; they may give you data that leads you to wrong conclusions. Keeping this in mind, that error may be present (likely), you may still make significant improvements to the audit process (risk is small and can be overlooked). John's contribution about getting the feedback during a closing meeting has its share of potential drawbacks as well (partially based on human observation and gutt feel), but in my organization, this route is preferred. Still, I don't know of a method that doesn't have draw backs, or if one method is better than the other for every given situation. With that said, make the survey! Nothing to lose if you're careful I suppose. By the nature of your post, I believe that you will exercise the care necessary in preparing a useful survery, so, good luck! I applaud your effort and concern on improving the process and the system!

Regards,

Kevin

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Laura M
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posted 21 October 1999 08:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Laura M   Click Here to Email Laura M     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Some questions that come to mind - based on a "Do's and Don'ts" list for Internal Auditors I came across some time ago:

-The audit schedule was provided with sufficient time for resources to be allocated.
-Auditor was prompt and well-prepared (not sure if you use a checklist in your system - if so it could say...well-prepared with a thorough checklist)
-Auditor was courteous, professional and avoided nit-picking. (Nit-picking can be somewhat subjective, to me N/C's for typos, or oops's is nitpicking)
-The auditor was helpful to the auditee - fully explained questions and listened carefully to responses.
-N/C's sited will help the department improve.
-N/C's were sited against procedures or the ISO/QS standard, not what the auditor thought the dept. should be doing.

I think these are fairly Objective, which should be the goal.

Hope it helps.

Laura M


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Steven Sulkin
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posted 21 October 1999 10:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steven Sulkin   Click Here to Email Steven Sulkin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Kevin- thanks for your feedback. It would be nice to come up with a scorecard for auditing that reflected the value the audits give to the quality system. For now, I am focused on justifying the function to the management team. For now, perception is everything.

Thank you Laura for the questions.

I will let you guys know what I end up with. Any more questions?

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David Guffey
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posted 21 October 1999 03:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David Guffey   Click Here to Email David Guffey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Good, thoughful approach. To make the survey quick for the auditee, provide a "level of satisfaction" format. That is: 1-5 (?) to indicate degree of satisfaction vs. degree of dissatisfaction.

Always remember that the feedback is how the auditee perceived the situation. Even negative feedback provides an opportunity to change perceptions, if not reality.

NEVER hesitate to offer suggestions as a first party auditor. Just don't get prescriptive. And, don't allow auditors to set themselves up for certain things they would like to see based on their experience vs. judging what they are seeing and whether it complies with the standard being used.

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Andy Bassett
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posted 24 October 1999 03:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Andy Bassett   Click Here to Email Andy Bassett     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hello Steve

I see a big gap appearing on this thread on the role of auditors. I applaud your efforts to assess the input or Value-add of your auditors, but i wander about measuring them against the standard 'The auditor understood the standard'.
I hope this doesnt put you to sleep but here is an article i wrote for a Quality magazine that might either support your direction or blow it out of the water.

(Ps whenever i read over articles that i wrote some months before i wander if it was really me that wrote them)

Hope its not too long

Andy

FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS?

If you are a Quality Manager, start updating you CV, or at least modifying your Job Description. Global competition is driving the need to improve company efficiency and root out none-value adding functions, and there is a good chance that it will stop by at the QMās door with a few interesting questions.

This probably does not apply to all Quality Management functions, the ones most at risk are the positions created by Managers who take one (brief and quite probably final) look at the ISO 9000 Standard, and say; ĪWow, whom can I drop this onā.

Two dangers exist when Quality Manager positions are created, the first occurs when an employee from the Quality Control Dept, or maybe the Quality Control Manager himself is appointed into the position. This sends a very loud message to company personnel, confirming what they had always expected, that Quality belongs in the Quality Control Department, no where else. Good luck to anybody trying to implement quality consciousness in this company.

The second danger exists from creating a Quality Management position itself.

Recently I have been working with a computer manufacturer in Dusseldorf, on a Business Process Reengineering Project, but with ISO 9001 as a secondary target. The Manager and Owner of this company diligently worked alongside me to analyse the companies weaknesses and generate improvements by building a Business Management System, in fairness this was during the difficult period of a new product launch, and it was obviously a strain on his time. On arriving at the company one day I was asked to participate with the owner in an interview with a potential Quality Manager, when I asked why he thought he needed a QM he said; ĪThis Quality Management business is OK, but I have to run my companyā. The clear inference was that he really believed the System had nothing to do with the daily management of his company.

If this was true, not only had we failed in our target to build a realistic system, we had simply created a second system, distinct from reality, and consuming none value adding resources to maintain it. Employees seem to have unusually sharp 6th senses for such actions. As soon as they identify that the System is a secondary system, they will treat it as such ie Īfollow it if time is available, or when the auditor is comingā. This action is only compounded when the boss himself delegates responsibility for quality to a Quality Manager. Trying telling the staff that quality is every bodies business after this.

In one particular German Automotive company, this attitude was so strong, that the name of the person scheduled to take on the QM function had to be withheld until after the company had implemented its ISO 9001 programme, for fear that the standard attitude would be; ĪSpeak to the Quality Manager, I have nothing to do with Qualityā, and the programme would never be implemented. They even went so far as to avoid the term Quality and instead call him a Systems Manager. Good trick, but the employees were not so easily fooled, and the Systems Manager now has the thankless task of maintaining a ghost Quality System that nobody is really interested in. Nice if you can afford it.

And this of course is the case with many Quality Managers who have had their position created simply to ensure the companies adherence to an International Quality Standard such as ISO 9000. The danger comes from two areas.

A. Smart Business Managers will sniff out this inefficient use of resources and start to demand more for their investment.


B. The new ISO 9000 Standard, whilst still appearing to be more suitable for making bombs and bullets, does contain half sensible terminology, with a requirement, or at least a potential to develop or improve the organisation (Can you believe the quantum leap the ISO Committee has taken, they actually now call organisations ĪOrganisationsā and suppliers ĪSuppliersā, instead of calling organisations suppliers, confused.? You should be).

The point is that in either case more value-add` will be expected from the function. Fortunately there is a world of scope, but you had better start with a name change. In one organisation where I am currently working we took the step of naming the QM ĪBusiness Improvement Managerā and armed him with a brief to improve the organisation, unfortunately he has stretched his credibility a little bit too far by naming his one man area ĪDepartment of Company Development and Organisationā.

Another value-add trick is to weave the regular internal audits into a ĪKaizenā or ĪContinuous Improvementā programm, and make the QM responsible for leading them. If you are clever, employees can believe that they are doing simple Continuous Improvement, whilst you are performing an audit. ISO 9000 Auditors normally spoil this for you, by insisting that documentation used during this process is formalised to such an heavy extent that it becomes nothing more than the dreaded Internal Audit. Imagine being asked to sign a None-Conforming Report every time you bought up weak point during a Kaizen Brainstorming session.

In one particular organisation considerable trouble was taken to develop processes that were relevant to the organisation itself, and not simply to the standard, the QM was then given the task of creating a measurement for each process, and meeting with the Process owners to find improvements. This is one way of nudging a QM System towards 'Value-Add'.

All this points to the fact that the Quality Manager needs specialist Communication skills in the area of Team Building, Team Leading, Conflict Management etc. I donāt want to risk a slander case, but I should also add that the Quality Control Dept is probably not the best place to look for personnel with these skills. Additionally, if some poor unsuspecting soul has allowed himself to be landed with the job of ensuring ISO 9000 compliance in the first place, there is a good chance that he needs to improve his communication skills.

It is possibly worth noting that a QM has a better chance of extending his role to areas of Business Improvement if the QM System in place is realistic and lived by the organisation ie he does not have to maintain a ghost QM System. He would then theoretically be much more able to maintain an overview on the company efficiency and attack any weak areas, All this leads to the question, Īwhat then is the Director doing?ā

And here we have yet another threat to the QM, a good company will produce a Quality Management System that is relative to the company and followed on a daily basis. A good company will also appreciate that if the QM System really is the way the company produces good quality products, then the only person to manage it is the Director himself (he is hardly likely to hand control of a company to a Quality Manager). At the most they may be able to live with a frequent (monthly?) visit from a Consultant or Freelance Quality Manager, just to provide an external view on the company.

Fortunately for existing Quality Managers, the vagueness and inefficiency of current ISO Standards, and the way in which many systems are implemented, stills frightens enough Directors into believing that they better employ somebody to manage this sub-system for them, but I wouldnāt bet on this continuing forever. At the very least the relentless pressure for improvement will force companies to questions what value they are getting out of their Quality Managers.

------------------
Andy B

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Marc Smith
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posted 05 November 1999 05:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Marc Smith   Click Here to Email Marc Smith     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Subject: Re: Auditor Surveys /Hitchcock/Hale
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 1999 16:16:19 -0600
From: Moderator
From: "Hale,Richard"

OCLC Quality System Internal Audit Survey
Division/Department:
Division/Department Initials (required):
Your Name:
Auditor:
Audit Date:

1.Did an audit team member contact you in advance to schedule the audit? Yes No

2.Was the audit scheduled to accommodate your department/division's needs? Strongly agree Agree Neither agree or disagree Disagree Strongly disagree

3.Was the audit conducted on the date and time scheduled? Strongly agree Agree Neither agree or disagree Disagree Strongly disagree

4.Was an opening meeting held? Yes No

If so,

5.Did the audit team explain the purpose and mechanics of the audit? Strongly agree Agree Neither agree or disagree Disagree Strongly disagree

6.Did the audit team adequately answer any questions that were asked? Strongly agree Agree Neither agree or disagree Disagree Strongly disagree

If not,

7.Was the opening meeting skipped at your request? Yes No

8.Was the audit team polite and considerate of those who were interviewed? Strongly agree Agree Neither agree or disagree Disagree Strongly disagree

9.Were the interviews conducted as scheduled? Strongly agree Agree Neither agree or disagree Disagree Strongly disagree

10.Did the audit team approach the audit in professional and unbiased manner? Strongly agree Agree Neither agree or disagree Disagree Strongly disagree

11.Were the audit finding(s) substantiated by evidence or lack of evidence to demonstrate conformance to quality system requirements or activities? Strongly agree Agree Neither agree or disagree Disagree Strongly disagree

12.Please rate the relevance of the audit findings very relevant relevant somewhat relevant not relevant nit-picking

13.Was a closing meeting held? Yes No

If so,

14.Did the audit team report organizational strengths as well as opportunities for improvement? Strongly agree Agree Neither agree or disagree Disagree Strongly disagree

15.Did the audit team provide requested clarifications and adequately answer all questions? Strongly agree Agree Neither agree or disagree Disagree Strongly disagree

If not,

16.Was the closing meeting skipped at your request? Yes No

17.Was the audit report provided in a timely manner? Strongly agree Agree Neither agree or disagree Disagree Strongly disagree

18.Did the audit report include recognition of the department/division's strengths? Strongly agree Agree Neither agree or disagree Disagree Strongly disagree

19.Was the audit report clean, accurate, and unbiased? Strongly agree Agree Neither agree or disagree Disagree Strongly disagree

20.Have you had any follow-up discussions with the audit team? Yes No

21.If so, did the auditor(s) provide you with the assistance you sought? Strongly agree Agree Neither agree or disagree Disagree Strongly disagree

22.Were there any problems associated with this audit? If so, please describe them.

23.Please describe any suggestions you have for improving the internal auditing process.

24.Other comments.

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barb butrym
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posted 05 November 1999 08:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for barb butrym   Click Here to Email barb butrym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
very nicely done

I especially like the one on revelence...vs... nitpicking...good point

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Marc Smith
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posted 05 November 1999 09:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Marc Smith   Click Here to Email Marc Smith     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Personally, I like to nit-pick! (Tee hee hee! Just kidding!)

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