A friend of mine, on the day of her first third party audit, posted this picture to her Facebook:
It made me smile because I think this is a fairly common reaction to an audit, or to auditors—watch out, they’re coming!—and of course the ensuing flurry of paper shuffling and panic. But, in my experience, usually once it’s done people say ‘that wasn’t that bad actually’ (as was the case for my friend).
Auditors tend to get a bad rap—we’re seen as boring, pedantic and inflexible. Audits are things to be endured (apparently sometimes by potential auditors themselves! I spotted “Studying this lame subject. Ugh” on a Twitter feed recently!).
Does auditing deserve this? In the years I’ve been auditing I can confidently say ‘no’. Most auditors I’ve worked with are genuinely interested in supporting improvement in the organisations they work with. An auditor with a good attitude goes a long, long way.
I do think, as more and more human services organisations go through a third party audit process, that our reputation and their feelings around the experience will change. In the past year, I’ve definitely noticed that people are starting to take interest in the profession and can see the benefit that auditing and quality management can provide.
If you’re about to go through your first third party audit and are a little unsure about the process, one important thing I learned when I first started out was: your auditor is your business partner. Talk to them about your strengths and what improvements you’re working on. They (should) see themselves as your support service, so see them as that too. Then you won't have to "brace yourself" when an audit comes along - you might find yourself looking forward to it!
Thanks for reading,
The Quality Nerd loves all things Quality Management and Internal Audit...too much is never enough!