This is one of the longest titles Iíve written, but
as an ISO auditor, I must document, document, document.
I suppose youíve seen or heard one of the latest
ISO jokes: Arguing with an ISO 9000 auditor is like wrestling with
a pig in mud ... Sooner or later you realize the pig enjoys it! Being
a devout pig myself, I love mud wrestling. (Of course, I think Iím a
people too, therefore I wrestle in a kinder and gentler way.)
I know it is a pain to implement a new Quality System
like ISO or to mess around with one already in place. To convince some
management types to swallow all the ISO 9000 Management Responsibility
pills can be a tremendous task, and sometimes very stressful on the poor
old QA Manager. And then thereís Administration moaning about revising
procedures, maintenance griping about having to document machine
cleaning, and you know Production Pete is gonna throw a fit when heís
told to report for ISO orientation.
And have you seen the new AS 9000 (aerospace
version)? It is a seventy three page audit check list. Wait until you
see us pigs wallow around with this one.
Out here in the muddy trenches I audit on a full time
basis: ISO and AS 9000. I am auditor, let me oink: There is much mud
slinging going on . . . it makes ISO sound like a "pig in a
poke". But, maybe rightly so. Maybe a lot of the bum rap comes from
some of us pigs wrestling you down into the mud until you label the
coffee pot. I even heard about a pig that did a drive-by audit, a
sin even worse than mud wrestling. (Pencil whipping an audit ... another
With all the ISO jokes out there, it is hard to convince some
companies to make the leap, not to mention the commitment. And it does
take commitment because as we all know ... change ainít easy. It is a
very expensive time intensive endeavor and it takes lots of effort to
convince people like Production Pete that the
system is going to work. Especially, if you have implemented other
policies that everyone bucked or didnít work too well. (Many people
jump on the quality band wagon, but never play the music.)
So why bother when we know the ISO jokes and
associated horror stories, pig induced or not? For those of you who hadnít
noticed, ISO and its counterparts such as AS 9000 are becoming industry
standards; old Military Standards and quality inspection systems are
being tossed out. Like it or not, standardization is happening. At least
once a month I run into a company that is being "forced" to
comply by their customers or lose their business.
But, take heart, there truly is nothing in ISO or its
counterparts that isnít good business, and since most of the
requirements are rather generic, they can be molded to fit your
business. Most of the companies I audit are producing good quality
products and are hitting on most of the requirements. Often they do not
have a documented Quality System, or have a system but are not
documenting it properly.
There are essentially three kinds of Quality System
Audits.. . first, second and third party. A first party audit generally
refers to an internal company audit, and second party is often performed
by your customer. The third is a very structured registration audit for
certification to ISO . . . just the facts Ma'am. And by the way, at this
point, there is no registration required for AS 9000. You can only claim
to be compliant to AS if your registrar runs that audit in conjunction
with your ISO registration. Then, your ISO certification can include the
statement: AS 9000 compliant. (Which simply means you also meet the
aerospace requirements surpassing ISO.)
I donít want to lecture you on the benefits of ISO, but consider
this: I contract with several companies to accomplish second and third
party audits. Company "X" sends me out to run AS 9000 audit
check lists on suppliers which are not AS compliant, not ISO certified
and in some cases donít even have a Quality System. I am directed to
approach these second party audits as a "gap analysis", to let
the supplier know where they are and where they need to be. As I
understand it, Company "X" is getting its supplier base up to
speed . . . and intends to drop those who are not up to speed by the
turn of the century. Itís kind of like when you were told you had to
have your shots to attend school, a real pain, but a real benefit.
Or, when we were forced to become "computerized", kicking and
screaming like it was another shot. But how could we possibly do our
jobs now without our computers?
The rumor going around with us audit pig types is not
only that ISO is here to stay, but also ... with tincture of time ...
many of the imposed audits suppliers are undergoing now will go away.
That is, if you can show ISO 9000 certification or AS 9000 compliance,
if required. Thatís the whole point of standardization. Think of it,
eliminating myriad's of duplicate audits could save our industries
millions of dollars a year, lots of time and headaches and probably work
many of us pigs out of a job!
If you take the ISO assignment . . . Iíll give you
a couple of hints. You must be your own advocate and learn about ISO
yourself. The pig pencil whipping an audit is no worse than a company
pencil whipping a Quality System.
There are many innovative and simple ways to meet the
intent of the standard. Such as a simple check list that reminds you of
the things you need to do before accepting a contract. Review it, sign
it, route it, and have integral departments do the same. (Remember the
old KISS theory? Keep it Simple, Stupid.)
write complicated manuals or procedures
committing your company to do something you are not going to do or are
not capable of doing. (Just the facts Ma'am.) However, pigs donít like
canned food either, so do write the stuff to fit your unique
business and do insist that a task is not completed until
I have audited many systems over the years, and I canít
speak for all auditors, but my opinion is that ISO and itís
counterparts are valuable and workable documents. Itís a challenge for
you to make your quality system comply to global requirements. For me,
as auditor, itís a challenge to fairly apply the standard to your
unique business. Itís not always easy for either of us, but who said
anything worth doing is easy?
As a matter of record, I donít mind being
associated with a pig, our law enforcement agencies have been for years.
And I can rationalize from studying animal hierarchy that the pig is
right up there in the top ten for intelligence, or was that the top
twenty? Bottom line is ISO is not a pig in a poke. I may wrestle with
you, but you can keep out of muddy waters with your Quality System if
you demonstrate to me . . . you say what you do, do what you say, and
Guess you can call me a Missouri pig.