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Second party audit. Part 1. Prerequisites

Second party audit. Part 1. PrerequisitesWho watches our news, remembers well, that we regularly publish articles about the second party audit. Why?

  1. Firstly, we believe, this method is very effective. We do not just believe in it, but we have a lot of results and evidences of it.
  2. Secondly, we see how many mistakes are made on this way. This causes the lack of result. As a consequence, the relations between suppliers and buyers is getting worse.
  3. Thirdly, we like this service, as it provides great opportunities for analytical and expert activities.
  4. Fourthly, we know that we conduct the most accurate second party audit. Further we will tell what our confidence is based on.

That is why we decided to renew the subject again, but in more detail, with concrete examples. Of course, we will not give the names of our customers, nor the names of suppliers, because it is very individual. As the say, «all coincidences are random».

And we will start with the prerequisites and the conditions for the second party audit to «start working».

Principle 1. Such as in ISO 9001. The second party audit will be an effective method with a systematic approach to this activity. The systems approach, as not a one-time action, will mean for us that we:

  • define the targets / results that we want to achieve with the second party audit;
  • implement this method and link it with other processes, such as business risk analysis, FMEA product / process risk analysis, corrective actions, monitoring of suppliers, work with root causes, etc.;
  • qualify and train auditors (there is no economic feasibility to train auditors for the sake of one-time action).

Principle 2. Audit is not for the sake of audit; there is always the goal of audit. We talk about it many times, but there is still a misunderstanding that audit companies do what they can or want, and do not what is required; buyers conduct audits because it is required, and not because they believe or expect results. The second part audits should show the results, and it is better if the results will be clear, not a «reduction of risks».

Principle 3. The audit is not conducted for the sake of excursions. We must understand that a correct audit takes time of an audited organization. We distract staff to interviews, to demonstrate approaches, to accompany a team of auditors. The staff of the supplier clearly recognize whether an audit is conducted for the sake of «see something else» or it really collects information about activities in order to develop a joint development plan. An additional aspect is the findings and good practices, the supplier’s company has the right not to want to share them, or to keep confidentiality. Currently, such practices can consist of  key advantages of the company. In this regard, we recommend to clearly divide the audit and familiarization visit.

Principle 4. High competence of the supplier auditor. At one time, I liked the answer of our customer, who did not go to the supplier’s audit according to the procedure, because he understood that he could not cope with the industry, products and specifics of the supplier. This example confirms principle 2: we conduct the audit only when we are confident in the quality of the process, we understand what result we want to achieve.
The quality of the audit is more dependent on the auditor:

  • how the auditor can communicate with various employees of the supplier;
  • the auditor can understand the risks, quality criteria of processes and products of another enterprise.

Our experience confirms that an employee, who has a negative attitude to an audit, can change it during the audit, at least, to a neutral one, if he hears logical conclusions and reasonable recommendations.

If the organization is ready to fulfill these prerequisites, we can proceed to the main reflections:

  • when, at what moment of cooperation (before, during or in case of non-conformities) is the method of an audit of the second party audit reasonable and effective;
  • how to formulate the purpose and expected result of the audit and ... (no one does it!);
  • how to define Plan B for cases where the expected result does not work;
  • will define in advance, before the departure to the supplier, in order not to waste neither our nor organization time and money.

We will write about this in part 2. To be continued ...

O. Kolchina
Department of Training and Integrated Projects