A company’s quality is reflective of external and internal aspects.

  1. External aspects: By developing and maintaining the company reputation of producing quality products will allow you to charge a premium during economic up turns and maintain your key customers in a downturn.

  2. Internal aspects: There is an added cost of non -quality production. Sometime the product can be reprocessed, with an added energy debit. If the product cannot be reprocessed it will need to be sold with a cost debit.

Most companies have quality audits for the sole purpose of receiving a quality certification. This is certainly a good reason, but a better reason would be to utilize the audit to improve the product qual- ity. Most audit finding are above 90% compliance – amazing – and not true. They are going through the motions of an audit.

If one audited diligently, what would be a reasona- ble compliance percentage? 75% would probably be a high number, but companies consistently audit above 90%. Many audits are time consuming and unproductive, when in reality they could be made very productive by a rigorous independent audit team.

One of our senior consultants was on a safety audit team. The previous audit team found four non- compliance items. Our team found 40+ non- compliance items that should have been previously identified. The senior consultant thought this was a great audit that made the plant considerably saf- er. A safety colleague asked how we were going to deal with the political implications from the stricter audit. The senior consultant replied there should be no political implications, everyone should under- stand that we made the plant considerably safer.

The political implications were that within three months the senior consultant was no longer on the audit team for that company. If your audit teams are not finding compliance items, they are not real- ly looking therefore you are not allowing your plant to have higher quality or safety.

At one safety audit the senior management team instructed our audit team to do a rigorous audit, which is great and will lead to higher safety, and lower incidents. The audit team found many non- compliant issues. 

At the end of the audit the senior management team then ask the plant that was being audited what they thought of the audit team. Of course, we were rated poorly by the plant where we just found many non-compliance issues. You can in- struct a team to audit rigorously, and when they do it is not required to ask the audited plant what they think of the team – you already know the answer to this question.

If your company is experiencing high rates of inci- dents, your audit team is potentially laboring un- der the politically correct method resulting in in- cidents, higher injuries and insurance cost.