One of the biggest fears about having an external audit is that you'll get a nonconformity (or non-compliance, or not met). To avoid this, people put a huge amount of effort into preparing for their audit. As I've said previously, being prepared is not a bad thing; but, especially if your organisation is just starting their quality management journey, you may still get a nonconformity. So what happens next?
First of all, your external auditor should say that they will provide you with written details of the nonconformity. This information should be specific - while it won't tell you how to address the issue, it should provide you with enough information so that you clearly know what to do. If you feel that the auditor hasn't given you the information in a clear and specific way, tell them! The auditor won't mind (we prefer to know that you understand the issue and want to resolve it).
Once you have that written information, you should ensure that you cross-reference it with the indicator / standard that it is against - this should give you enough information to confidently address the nonconformity. Now is the time to start documenting this resolution phase:
1. State what you will do to address the issue, for example, that x procedure will be updated to include y and z.
2. State what you will do once that change has been made, for example, that the procedure will be
distributed and explained to all staff at the next staff meeting.
3. Include a follow up action and a timeframe - this provides assurance that you will know that the change has been embedded. Document this when completed with a description of what happened (please note, stating something like 'achieved' is really not good enough. You don't have to be a writer to be able to describe what happened when you did something, you just have to put the effort in).
All of this information will need to be provided to the external auditor at some point (different quality frameworks have different requirements, and it also may depend on how serious the nonconformity is), so it is important that you document thoroughly.
important thing, though, is to not feel too disappointed or discouraged from a
nonconformity - it is a part of quality and of the continual improvement
process. See it as an opportunity to improve and keep moving forward.
The Quality Nerd loves all things Quality Management and Internal Audit...too much is never enough!