In one of blogger Justiffa's earlier posts (Audit Fever), she tells the story of experiencing stress and anxiety in facing auditors checking the workplace compliance to ISO procedures.
For those of us who work in ISO-certified organisations (manufacturing, engineering/construction, service industry), the yearly audit exercise is looked on with some dread. While the main objective of all audits is to detect for conformance to the agreed procedures and improving weaknesses, most of the staff hate to be audited because they do not wish to be seen making mistakes. It is simple human nature. Everybody thinks (or wants to think) that he/she is perfect. Nobody wants to be seen to be doing their job poorly and least of all, being made an example to the rest of the colleagues.
My personal view on quality system audits is somewhat mixed. The primary purpose of setting up and maintaining a quality management system to ISO (International Standards Organisation) regulations is simply that... Quality. If our firm produces quality goods or provide quality services, then we will get very satisfied customers which in turn, would result in more business and hence improved profitability. So why then the mixed views? Because complying to the system entails hard work, especially in the area of documentation and record-keeping. While we can be proud of our staff for being hardworking, not many of them are good in the paperwork side of things.
As an example, in my line of work, we issue design changes and revised drawings all the time. No project is perfectly designed at the inception stage. Changes during construction are inevitable. Hence, any particular section of the work may have to be revised a number of times, for whatever reason. Keeping track of such changes is therefore of paramount importance. We have to make sure that the guy who is actually building the thing is in possession of the latest drawing and not one that was superseded three or four times over.
A proper quality management system ensures such revisions are properly recorded, relayed and implemented. The key area of concern here is traceability... who instructed the change, when was it authorised, were the revised drawings issued properly, was receipt of the drawings acknowledged, etc., etc., etc... So, if we do find the toilet being built in a location where it's not supposed to, we check the paper trail, find out where the cock-up occurred and then decide who gets the screwing.
I guess now you would have an idea why many people hate to keep records.
I am taking time to write on this subject because our company's ISO audit is scheduled for some time this month. I was informed that my project is the one proposed for the external auditor to visit because our documentation and filing system is in reasonably good shape (as opposed to other projects whose record-keeping is not quite up to par, it seems). Ironic, isn't it? I would have thought it would be more beneficial to send the auditor to the other projects so that the weaknesses can be detected and improvements made.
Anyway, what has ISO got to do with ISA? Actually, not much... although the ISA (Internal Security Act) has also got something to do with conformity. You better conform to what the government say or else the Minister of Home Affairs can lock you up without trial.
It's just that every ISO audit exercise reminds me of something someone told me many years ago.
`Aku tak suka lah ISO audit ni! Letih kena soal-siasat. Lebih baik ISA!'
Which prompted me to ask, `Kenapa?'
`ISO kan Ikut Suka Orang... ISA tu Ikut Suka Akulah!'
P/s : Graphic above borrowed from www.despair.com. Saja nak buat Zendra tersedak, heheh... and thanks to Nurie for leading me to this site :-)