How to prepare the organization for an audit?

  • One of the most important goals for the whole plant is to pass the next OEM audit successfully – announced the plant manager many times.

We found ourselves in a critical situation after a “not perfect” result from a customer audit. It happens sometimes. The evaluation we got was not acceptable for the customer, not for our organization. But we got a new chance. We had several months to fix the issues, implement the improvements.

To be clear – I did not drive this process; I was one active team member. But I learned a lot from this experience – I think it is worth sharing as best practice.

We listed the found non-conformities, defined the root-causes, and the necessary improvement actions.

But we did not stop there. We did not only focus on the technical stuff. We knew we had many things to do with the quality mindset of the whole organization.

As I described in my other post, part of the audit preparation is the colleagues’ preparation.  

We needed a good plan, training the engineers, and preparing the shift leaders, technicians, and each operator or the production line.

Some quality guys alone can not reach such an ambitious goal. We had to engage all levels of the organization. How can it work?  We had to involve them in the process. They had to understand what is their contribution to the Quality Management System.

By the way, it is an ISO9001 and IATF16949 requirement: 7.3 – 7.3.1. Awareness – supplemental:

“The organization shall maintain documented information that demonstrates that all employees are aware of their impact on product quality and the importance of their activities in achieving, maintaining, and improving quality, including customer requirements and the risks involved for the customer with non-conforming product.”

What was our plan? Training and training for everyone. They had to understand their contribution to part quality – and customer satisfaction.

But we knew training is not enough. Each person is different. Some of them are getting nervous if someone is asking what they are doing. They could make mistakes just because their hands were shaking.

We wanted to make sure about the quality awareness of each worker.

Therefore we created simple audit plans with essential but straightforward questionnaires. Mini audits were continuously performed.

Each workstation, each shift had to be audited. Here these mini audits were pieces of training at the same time.

Could not the operator answer successfully? No problem, he/she got the explanation right there. The goal of these audits was the excellent preparation of our staff. To increase and spread the quality mindset continuously.

Who were the auditors? The quality guys only?

No way! We intended to involve everyone—managers, process engineers, shift leaders, technicians – and finally, quality engineers.

This process did not happen in one day. It took many weeks, hundreds of mini audits, and training.

And the result? Our effort paid back! The following customer audit was a success.

But I believe we gained much more. We strengthen the quality mindset, the customer focus in the whole organization. We found a way how to increase the awareness of our people.

As always, think in system with Pro Automotive.

If you are interested in reading articles about automotive quality management topics, best practices, case studies, follow Pro Automotive.

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