The silent all over the office was shouting and counting the seconds from the moment each word is spoken. That included the feelings we were hiding and sharing at the same time like hitting hollow fuel drums whose echoes framed and isolate the prevailing stress.
Back in the beginning of the 90s we were undergoing an audit. It was a bunch of respectable people. One of them was not allowed to eat some dishes of our food. But he was a nice guy and he had a point there. We reached at this bottom line: They were aviators like us. Where was the difference? That word auditor was a sound high enough for us to make some insights.
I was a young engineering and production clerk at that time working for this Foreign Repair Station in my country. So, I approached one of the auditors and throwed my humble dice. What’s your role as an auditor? Well, Sergio, I need to check that you actually follow all of your procedures. A short and complete answer, which always makes me tell myself Damn it! These guys are smart!
It is clear that my first experience during an audit was good enough. And from that time on. More than twenty-five years ago, I still have this on my mind when I assume the role of auditor. What are the key activities I must perform to make an audit?
- An audit plan, which includes purpose(s) and goal(s) of the audit.
- Reviewing the auditee’s documentation, including the results of the previous audits and the relevant analysis.
- Reviewing the applicable requirements for the audit (criteria).
- Making the relevant checklist for the audit.
- Include manpower for the audit.
- Step-by-step checking for all the activities executed until then.
- Checking for any risks of the audit.
- Coordination with my Top Management’s organization.
- Assigning the date and time for the audit.
- Communication arrangements with the auditee.
- Preparing/Collecting information and/or requirements for the audit briefing, including applicable portion of the code of ethics.
- Making all the questions as arranged at the briefing.
- Report and coordinate all findings with the auditee.
- Wait for auditee acknowledgement of the findings. Once they are accepted, the audit can continue.
- If it’s an audit and you are the leader of this, arrange periods for discussion with your auditors. This will be good for “sketching” the overview of the auditee. This could also be good for discussing some findings or some relevant cues.
- Once you have all this information and, according to the manpower, you are ready for the audit de-briefing. This event will do good enough for arranging and/or coordinating events with the auditee, including the findings and deadlines.
- The audit report comes then. Ask for the reports to your subordinates, hold relevant meetings and make the final audit report, including the graphics presentation for the auditee’s effectiveness in the compliance with the requirements.
What was all of this above? It was a clear check set for the compliance with the requirements of an organization. It is also evident the grade of such compliance with the requirements (quality) is what approaches the organizations to safety as an end product. This means as long as the organizational management system is built on quality principles like process approach as a strategy, including not only direction but control, organizations are running sound systems to reach safety within a quality-based system.
That also means as long as all the answers for the questions above result in categorical unbeatable management, safety is shared by all members of an organization at all levels. But do not become stressed with this. Unbeatable and quality-based safety does not occur overnight. It is a process. It is built each and every day with planning, objectives and goals. But take into account; resources need to be aligned to such objectives and goals. Otherwise, it will not result in effectiveness but in a struggle whose destination is to be defeated by the managerial and operational hazards the organizations face.