In the previous article “5 Ways to Prepare for an Audit,” the benefits to taking a proactive stance, surveying orderliness, working as a team, instilling a positive attitude amongst coworkers, and involving senior management were discussed. Here are five additional techniques producers should consider to ready themselves before and during a certification audit.
1. Don’t cover up your mistakes. No operation is perfect, and it is statistically rare to encounter an operation that scores 100 percent on an audit. If you’re asked a question and you don’t know the answer, write down the compliance point and tell the auditor you will follow up with your staff. Try not to guess, or even worse, lie. In most cases, if you are unable to produce quantifiable evidence to support your claim, the auditor cannot verify compliance. Never ask an auditor what should be done to correct the non-conformance as it shows inexperience and it is a conflict of interest for an auditor to consult. Furthermore, it is the applicant’s duty to comply with 100 percent (depending on the standard) to attain certification. If you are concerned that your corrective action report is inappropriate, consider having the document reviewed by a third-party before submitting to the certification body.
2. Accommodating the auditor for success. Auditors like information, but they do not like to be bombarded with lots of the wrong information. Do not provide an auditor with more information than is necessary to comply with the standard criteria. Make them ask for specific documentation or to visit certain areas of your facility. Auditors can sometimes have a slightly different perspective regarding compliance with the standard, so be sure to have your own hard copy of the standard available during the desk audit. Make sure your auditor reads out the number of the compliance point so you and your staff can follow the audit and make personal notes referencing each section of the standard.
3. Review monitoring activities. Employees should know the significance of what an “•” or an “x” actually means. More importantly, they should know what is done to ensure that the proper corrective action is taken. Review your records and look for trends. All recordkeeping activities should have similar identifiers. For example, “ok” should not be written instead of “•” as it shows a lack of staff training and communication. An auditor can interview employees at any time during an audit. This especially goes for subcontracted parties. Auditors are trained to look for falsified records. If you identify this, have a meeting with all employees and document your progress.