Exploring Failure

Many businesses try to do the impossible and have everything right first time around to “pass” audits and achieve certification while putting pressure on themselves in case they “fail”

A couple of things spring to mind and it’s the words “pass” & “fail”; As a business you never want to hear the words fail and during the ISO just switch the terminology from pass & fail to either conforming or non-conforming to the standard and this removes the fear of expectation for failure.

If the business is non-conforming and they receive major or minor non-conformities, they have a time period to rectify this and telling business they will fail something can have huge repercussions across their business which could impact on individuals or a team.

As ISO consultants we provide professional expert advice in our specialised field supporting clients have access to deeper levels of expertise than would be feasible for them to retain in-house; therefore, we do not entertain the word fail.

Being involved in internal audits, performing supplier audits or having a certification body audit can be stressful for all those involved especially for those being audited because with human nature we see audits like a test or its direct approach to your ability to do your job.

This is far from the truth, as an auditor you should make sure you conduct your audit respectfully taking into account the business, the staff or employees and the environment you are in. A staff member “on the shop floor” will react differently than managers, CEO’s, business owners e.g. and their engagement is extremely important and all those in the organisation should not feel their jobs are at risk and nor should they be made feel they will “fail”.

I encourage the use of the terms conformance or non-conformance which is in line with ISO standards, and while you could have a product which has failed there could be numerous reason e.g. poor training or a lack of qualified staff, design flaws, poor communication between the organisation and the customer/client, these are a failure of the process or procedure within the organisation and should be managed and seen as an opportunity or reason for change encouraging continual improvement.

ISO sets the standard but does not tell you how design your management system or how to develop your processes. There is a lot of hard work put into producing and developing your management system to ensure it aligns and meets the required standard you require. There are always challenges in business and a lot risks involved and having an ISO standard does not remove those challenges but it can help mitigate those business risk helping you identify what is important to the business, providing staff and employees with a structured, formalised way of working which can have great benefits and develop a cultural change in your business..

During ISO certification and annual surveillance audits the Certification Body 3rd party audit may identify various anomalies in your processes, policies or procedures identifying minor non-conformities, major non-conformities or opportunities for improvement;

Before looking into the non-conformities remember it’s not a failure; it means your processes, policies or procedures do not conform to the required standard;

You should see this as an opportunity to improve your business or organisation.

If you need help preparing for an audit or addressing any non-conformities then book a consultation. I’m here to help.

Book a consultation with Douglas.