2014: Advent Quality: Audacious Widgets

by on December 21, 2014

Who are these dreaded auditors who will ask so many questions?

Auditors are grey-robed, hooded figures who speak only in the third person and wish for the universe to be comprehensively catalogued, explain, and, if at all possible, static.

No, wait, that’s Auditors. Mundane auditors are not quite so scary, and are people who carry out audits. Audits are checks. They are investigations into what’s going on, not to discover why something went wrong, but just to see if anything is being done wrong. A car MOT is an audit. A ticket inspection on a train is an audit. HMRC going over your tax records is an audit.

Audits are usually divided into internal and external, mostly because it’s the external ones that are big and scary and get you into trouble.

An internal audit is where you take a look at yourself. Or, more usually, when someone from the quality department comes around and starts asking annoying questions about your paperwork and whether you’re following procedure. No matter. It’s when an organisation examines its own workings.

An external audit might be from a customer, or a government inspector, or a certifying body. They’re scarier, because when something comes up in an external audit, you don’t get to just apologise and retrain. External audits have consequences: you might lose an important customer, because they spot rat droppings in the widget warehouse and they’re not cool with that. Worse, you might lose your certification, at which point you’ll have to tell all your customers that you are no longer certified under ISO or by the MHRA or whichever all-powerful acronym can destroy your business at a stroke.

Which is, of course, why you do internal audits: you want to find those problems before the scary man from the government takes your factory away.

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