'Tis the season for auditing. The beginning of this year, just like years in the past, seems to have brought the New Year's Resolution that audits will be scheduled and conducted to correct the sins of the previous year and take a fresh look at the upcoming year. To this point I've conducted three audits and after this week I'll have been the auditee twice (essentially an audit per week to start the year).
With each audit I've been fortunate enough to learn something new, whether it be the new hot-button issue, or a new technique for a particular auditee. In conducting internal audits recently, I've had to learn to re-calibrate myself by taking more of a teaching role, than an audit role. Prior to the three recent audits, I had never thought of audits as a teacher/student relationship, but in essence that is exactly what it is. The student (auditee) presents their QMS documents (homework) to the teacher (auditor) for an assessment (grade). Along the way the internal auditor has the ability to assess and offer insights into how compliance to the QMS and/or regulations could/should be better.
This observation (teacher/student relationship) was very pronounced during the external auditor experience as well. The external auditing body representative was kind enough to convey their thoughts on the findings that were made and how the auditee could rectify the problem(s).
This appears to be a shift in how auditors function. When I first started auditing I was taught to remove emotion from the situation and to only report the facts. Additionally, it was a no-no to offer insights into how to correct the findings, for that would be assuming a level of ownership over the corrective action and/or preventive action that the auditee decided upon.
It is apparent to me now, more than ever, that auditing is not only about making and reporting findings, but also about aiding the auditee in understanding ways to correct the faults in their process.