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  Auditing
  Difference between a Major & Minor finding

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Author Topic:   Difference between a Major & Minor finding
mooser
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From:Kane, PA USA
Registered: Jul 2001

posted 15 August 2001 01:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mooser   Click Here to Email mooser     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have to relate to our Internal Auditors the difference between a major and minor finding in our internal audits. I suspect that all our findings are minor since our company has been registared for 4 years now. Is there somewhere that find an explanation?
mooser

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Alf Gulford
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From:Portland, OR
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posted 15 August 2001 05:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Alf Gulford   Click Here to Email Alf Gulford     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm sure you'll get much better answers than this but we've always said that a Major is one of three things:

1. A non-existent or broken down system that's required by the standards.

2. A situation that might reasonably cause the customer to get bad product.

3. What should be a minor but has happened before and never seems to get fixed.

This is the way I learned it from a variety of consultants and ISO trainers. Hope it's helpful. I've never seen an 'official' definition and don't even know if Major and Minor distinctions are recognized by ISO.

Alf

[This message has been edited by Alf Gulford (edited 15 August 2001).]

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barb butrym
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posted 16 August 2001 07:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for barb butrym   Click Here to Email barb butrym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Alf....thats a good explaination. A difficcult decision for internal auditors.

I have stopped calling them major/minor until the auditors are seasoned.....they are all "findings" the decision is made by the mgt Rep or audit coordinator to keep it consistent. the IA writes up a summary of findings as part of the report, it is presented at a 'psuedo closing meeting' the area owners take responsibility, and discuss root cause and CA right there.......Then the CAR is issued if needed. Minutes are kept, for the audit file and follow up may be assigned. This is a new approach, has some bugs, not all my clients will be able to make the change...but for those who have its been great. I have also added 'continuous improvement' opportunities here.

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E Wall
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From:Columbus, GA USA
Registered: Jun 2001

posted 16 August 2001 10:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for E Wall   Click Here to Email E Wall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is how we've defined/explained to our auditors:
9.1 Nonconformities
9.1.4 Nonconformities must be objective, traceable, and complete.
9.1.5 Identify nonconformity classification:
9.1.5.1 MAJOR – Quality system does not comply with ISO standard.
9.1.5.2 MINORImplementationis not consistent with quality documentation or implemented system is not effective.
9.1.5.3 OBSERVATION – In the opinion of the auditor, improvement would be beneficial to avoid future noncompliance (QA and/or Plant Manager to decide if preventive action should be initiated).

Our previous determination of 'observations' being derived from a management system type review rather than quality system of course needs to be revamped for the y2k rev.

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mooser
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From:Kane, PA USA
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posted 16 August 2001 12:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mooser   Click Here to Email mooser     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Your replies have been a graet help. I also read that the lead auditor would determine that 3 or more minor findings in one area to be a major finding. Is this also a standard practice?

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E Wall
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From:Columbus, GA USA
Registered: Jun 2001

posted 16 August 2001 01:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for E Wall   Click Here to Email E Wall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes. To us that goes to the Major definition - system does not comply to the standard.

However, I would caution that this may depend on how you have your audits set up. Are you auditing by department or by element/clause? If the minor findings are unrelated to an standard element/clause, then I would say no they are still minors.

------------------
Eileen V. Wall
ISO Coordinator

EDIT ADDITION: Our registrar has also moved from the Major/Minor classification to 'Nonconformity', then description detail is included.

[This message has been edited by E Wall (edited 16 August 2001).]

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energy
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From:New Britain, CT
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posted 16 August 2001 03:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for energy   Click Here to Email energy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The new standard, 9001:2000 definitions only refer to audit findings. "Results of the evaluation of the collected evidence against audit criteria. Note Audit findings can indicate either conformity or nonconformity with audit criteria, or opportunities for improvement."
Like Barb, we report all "findings" to the Steering Committee(we are still in the startup mode). At that point, we decide to issue Corrective Action based upon the serious of it, as determined by the Committee. Major, minor, concerns are only heard of when you have auditor training. Like the origin of level 1 or Tier 1 document levels, not mentioned in the standard, the origin of major/minor may be buried somewhere in the older versions, or just used so much by everyone, it became "the way" you measure the seriousness of the finding. Of course, we have yet to select a Registrar, so we haven't heard their take on it. I will be querying them very hard on that topic because the seriousness of their findings may determine if we have to have them come back at extra cost due to so called "Major" findings. We have to know how it is measured, before we become a client. Not just, "it's a major" with no criteria. The rule of thumb is that if the finding can cause a breakdown in the Quality Mgt System, it was considered a "Major", for lack of a better word. Minors are just that, minor corrections or strong recommendations for improvement.
JMHO

energy

[This message has been edited by energy (edited 16 August 2001).]

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Alf Gulford
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From:Portland, OR
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posted 16 August 2001 03:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Alf Gulford   Click Here to Email Alf Gulford     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'll agree with Eileen that 3 or more could indicate a Major, with the caution that in a large company or very large department, three minor issues (e.g.; document control) out of thousands of possibilities may not warrent a Major. Lots of judgement and reasonableness, if that's a real word, involved.

By the way, Eileen, congratulations on being quoted in the new Quality Digest. Your knowledge and experience have been evident in this forum, it's nice to see you recognized in other publications too; and it's also just nice to see a name I actually recognize quoted once in awhile.

Alf

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E Wall
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From:Columbus, GA USA
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posted 16 August 2001 04:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for E Wall   Click Here to Email E Wall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you Alf! Gotta watch my head don't swell hehehehhehe

Having others appreciate my point of view seems pretty foreign after the battles I have been through at work the last few years (looooooooong story - I'm sure most have lived through or heard of similar so I won't bore you with the details).

I've only been involved with forums for the last few months and it has been such a benefit for me on so many levels. Also, it is also a great kick to be 'published' here and in QD.

To most I'm a babe in the woods (*grin* don't form any pictures now). I've really relied on a lot of the Cove 'regular's' posts to check myself against. The knowledge and talent in this place is astounding! I appreciate being among you all.

Eileen

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David Mullins
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From:Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
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posted 16 August 2001 09:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David Mullins   Click Here to Email David Mullins     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Don't make the internal auditors job harder than it is already. Cripes, they're still trying to get comfortable with auditing, starting to think they shouldn't have taken it on, don't have time for it, etc, and you want them to delineate between major and minor NC's?
NO!
123
SAT/UNSAT/OBS
If it doesn't comply with documented or intended arrangments, it's a NONCOMPLIANCE. If the auditor is unable to substantiate the NONCONFORMANCE then it is an OBSERVATION.

If your internal auditors are seeing genuine MAJOR NONCONFORMITIES you're either just starting down the QMS path, or your system is shot - and you should have known this already!

------------------

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mooser
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From:Kane, PA USA
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posted 17 August 2001 08:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mooser   Click Here to Email mooser     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dave, you as well as the rest contributors, have helped me make the decision to determine myself, as lead auditor, the severity of the findings. I will have to change the present procedure that requires placing a major/minor to the findings by the auditor. The lead auditor ultimately has the final say anyway.
I am surprised that the Q10011 standard never talks about major/ minor findings only nonconformances. Is the Major/ Minor findings the development of Registars or one the National Accreditation Programs?

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Jim Biz
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From:ILLINOIS
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posted 17 August 2001 10:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Biz   Click Here to Email Jim Biz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Don't know how/when the Major/Minor thing got started (it's before my time - a rare commodity)

Anyway - I know how it continues to be used by our registrar.

Major - an observed minor that action has not been effectivley implemented for within 6 months - significant enough to have an effect on the operation of the management system

Minor - the "Opinion items" written because the auditor can not / will not buy off on an internal explaination of our system
(IE the procedure should say and/or - not and therefore it is unclear and can be easily addressed - or a finding that something was not "effectivley addressed" during internal audits etc).

The major difference between a Major and a minor finding is that MAJORS cost money..

We had one major finding a couple of years ago - our training program was not in the auditors opinion sufficient(sp?) for our needs - he wanted to see more detailed records and increased action taken.

Time passes - we replace the HR manager - next audit - the new Hr manager has not set up the records system to the point that it satisfies the auditor. MAJOR finding issued.

To clear the Major - nothing was done differently than any other minor with the exception that More evidence could be shown that the records system was now current and operational.

Everyones happy - 6 weeks later we get a bill - from the registrar claiming time spent to clear up the whole thing.

Our internal problem with Major/Minor is makjng decisions on what the difference should be in timely actions? Should a major be required to be cleaned up in a week - and a minor in 3-4 weeks?

Not sure any of this helps but that's our take on it anyway.

Regards
Jim

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energy
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From:New Britain, CT
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posted 17 August 2001 11:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for energy   Click Here to Email energy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
David,

It's hard to get people away from the major/minor method, even though there is no method specified in the new standard (just company specific practices and opinions), because the Registrars continue to use these terms. It's a Machiavellian thing for lack of a better way. We will let our Auditors report all findings and Mgt will determine the CA. The registrar we select will have to justify his rating of nonconformances in a more specific way, other than their subjective terms. If it becomes obvious that all Registrars use this method, then "When in Rome do ..........."

energy

[This message has been edited by energy (edited 17 August 2001).]

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Al Dyer
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From:Lapeer, MI USA
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posted 17 August 2001 12:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Al Dyer   Click Here to Email Al Dyer     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We effectively, use and have used in previous lives a simple pass/fail option for internal audits. Keeps it simple for the internal auditors and takes away the gray areas of decision making.

MHO

ASD...

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E Wall
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posted 20 August 2001 11:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for E Wall   Click Here to Email E Wall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For further clarification of our situation:
We also use Major/Minor to assist management review information (let's face it most managers don't have time to get caught up in all the little details - that's why they deligate responsibility).

This clarification helps to identify when a stronger 'lead' is needed from mgmt staff in the areas audited as well as a heads up that hey, if this is happening elsewhere - check up on your staff to make sure they're not dropping the ball to.

With 10 departments to go through our internal auditing selects a sampling group - does not audit all 10 depts for same element/clause. Additionally, depending on the number of processes in the department a further reduction of sample size can be done. Example: 1 dept with 10 processes - auditor may select 5 processes to review.

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energy
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posted 20 August 2001 04:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for energy   Click Here to Email energy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
E Wall,

You appear to have a system where everybody is tuned to the same channel. That's great. My situation is different as we are starting up and the uncertainty I detect in our Internal Auditors about classification of findings has caused us to forego that "option" until everyone is comfortable with it. Our Internal Auditing trainer, outside source, kept referring to major and minor during his presentation. I finally told him to refer to observations as "findings" and get on with the course. He agreed. Until such a time as we all can tell the difference between the two commonly used terms, and the criteria for determination, we have to do this. We may create our own, like Norad's DEF-CON 1, 2, 3, etc.. Code Red, Blue, Yellow, etc..Have a good one! Keep smiling.

energy

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David Mullins
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From:Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
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posted 20 August 2001 08:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David Mullins   Click Here to Email David Mullins     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
1. Registrars/Certifiers use major and minor because that way they can call a nonconformity a minor and still register organisations with crappy systems - and the registrar's customer is happy.
2. Translated to internal auditing - Imagine the scenario of issuing a major on a dept from an internal audit. HOD/manager says little until you, the MR, present a report on auditing activities at management review. NOW the trap springs shut! HOD/manager bursts into a song and dance presentation, with mountains of conjured up evidence, demonstrating to all his nodding peers that not only was there no MAJOR, but there should have been no nonconformity reported at all. Clearly the quality system is a farce, run by incompetent idiots and wasting valuable time, money and resources that said HOD/manager now breaks into part 2 of his presentation on how to use the money from dissolving the current quality garbage and establishing a caotic system which clearly provides better ROI.

In short - you're fooling yourself and the company if you use majors and minors. They (production/service providers) will always work to down-grade a major, and you'll just get more screwed than usual (oh, and the internal auditor involved will quit!)

NOTE - remember, you lead people not systems.

------------------

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mooser
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From:Kane, PA USA
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posted 21 August 2001 08:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mooser   Click Here to Email mooser     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dave,
Unfortunately we all have to deal with politics wherever we are. But we can use politics to our advantage even in internal auditing. For every department head that I
meet with I also invite either his superior or related manager. For example, I had one department with 2 finding in different elements (one in training & one in work instruction). We met with the dept. supervisor & HR manager for training issue and with the same dept. supervisor & production manager for the work instruction issue, in our closing meeting. This way the dept supervisor realized that the responsibility was not entirely his.
Politics are a fact of life and we need to work with or around it the best we can. If we work completely against it we will only be frustrated, but I guess that's a whole other subject.

mooser

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E Wall
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From:Columbus, GA USA
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posted 21 August 2001 04:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for E Wall   Click Here to Email E Wall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by energy:
E Wall,
You appear to have a system where everybody is tuned to the same channel.

It has been a fight! I've been on board here 3.5 yrs. The tail end of last year (after losing more auditors to transfers) I showed them that using a 'canned' Internal Auditing program (customized by me for our processes) would save $$$$ on external training classes. Not to mention better consistancy in methodology, terminology...etc

Having the $ numbers was the kicker that made it a go. We purchased a 'kit' from Technicomp (they'll send it & others for demo). When we received the 'full' version I added a few of my own overheads, replaced the 'Company X' information & situations to suit our info and environment and trained from that.

Since I got to set up our Site Internal Audit Certification Course, I was given full reign so to pass the course you must attend the classroom training, pass a written exam with 80% or higher, participate in an internal audit (with me as Lead) and they are each evaluated (again, requirements I set up) on their demonstrated knowledge & techniques, pass with a 80% or higher...scores are averaged and then I hold exit course interviews...allow them a chance to feedback to me (for course improvement), if you pass you're an internal auditor if not...I let them know what we need to work on, how we're going to do it, and rock on!

quote:
Originally posted by energy:

Have a good one! Keep smiling.
energy

YOU TOO!!!!!

------------------
Eileen V. Wall
ISO Coordinator

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David Mullins
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From:Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
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posted 21 August 2001 09:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for David Mullins   Click Here to Email David Mullins     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
JUST TO CLARIFY:
My previous scenario was completely fictitious. Intended to provide an example of how things can come unstuck when you impose unreasonable requirements not needed by the standard or the employer.

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