Effective Quality Auditing

Quality auditing is critical to improvement for any manufacturing enterprise. As business leaders, how can we ensure that quality audits are being performed effectively, and how can we be proactive in conducting them?

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Every manufacturing organization wants to maintain a high level of quality in its operations. Still, only businesses that are proactive in constantly evaluating and improving their activities will see continuous improvement. Internal quality audits are one of the most important tools in a manufacturing leader’s repertoire — they allow organizations to gage the effectiveness of their current processes and procedures, identify and correct errors or redundancies, and determine methods of making meaningful progress. Unfortunately, quality auditing can also be quite an intimidating and time-consuming process, making leaders hesitant to perform them regularly. However, by understanding the reasons for and value of quality auditing, you’ll find that your business can develop and advance beyond common manufacturing obstacles and gain significant operational advantages over static, unchanging competitors.

There are three main types of quality audits: First-Party Audits, which an organization conducts on itself, Second-Party Audits, conducted by external parties with an interest in the organization’s quality management system, and Third-Party Audits, conducted by certification or governmental bodies to ensure the organization’s compliance with industry standards. Regardless of which kind of audit is being performed, the goal is always the same: to improve the organization’s quality management system, and to optimize production activities as much as possible. Manufacturing entities must regularly improve and continuously develop their practices to prevent stagnation and obsolescence, and quality audits are one of the most effective ways of doing so in a timely, organized manner. Quality audits allow problems to be addressed and opportunities to be seized throughout the entirety of an organization, allowing for impactful, long-term solutions and focused, incentivized innovation.

To evaluate the quality of your organization’s activities effectively, keep the foundational principles of clarity, consistency, and continuous improvement in mind. Remember — quality audits exist for the sole purpose of developing your organization. Some key points to remember about conducting quality audits are as follows:

• Quality audits should deliver useful, tangible information regardless of their outcome, and should be conducted thoroughly and regularly to prevent mistakes from being made. • When performing a quality audit of your organization, stay away from being adversarial, abrupt, irrelevant, or overly-meticulous — this will dissuade your employees from making changes, and may harm your business’s internal and external relationships. • Take a constructive, optimistic approach to auditing, and be sure that your workers understand why quality auditing is being performed. • Be sure to promote the value of quality auditing to your employees during the process, and collect as much information as you can from them to contextualize the audit’s results. • Quality auditing is, essentially, investigative reporting and should be conducted with a fitting amount of professionalism and respect.

Regular quality audits are key to any manufacturing organization’s sustained development, innovation, and growth and keep leaders and employees alike engaged in their work. If you’re reluctant to perform a quality audit on your organization, keep in mind that many private and public institutions offer a variety of tools and resources, readily available to help you evaluate your audit activities in a straightforward, expedient way. Don’t forget: innovation is only possible through continuous improvement!

To discuss future opportunities for sessions on the value of quality auditing, please contact Leah Nacua, EMC’s Manufacturing Consortium Manager for Toronto and the GTA. Attend EMC events frequently for knowledge specialized to Canada’s manufacturing leaders.

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