Selecting an ISO 9001 Auditor

To become an ISO 9001 Auditor, one must complete a minimum of these requirements:

  • A college degree
  • 5 years experience in an ISO 9001 leadership role
  • Attend ISO 9001 training authorized by RAB
  • Pass an ethics test

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Conduct an Interview with an ISO 9001 Auditor

Selecting a competent ISO 9001 Auditor that meets your requirements is important to assuring your registration audit goes well. We recommend reviewing at least 3 registrars prior to selecting your auditor. Setup interview dates with each registrar's auditor. Ask the registrar to send the actual auditor who will be conducting your first surveillance audit.

If the registrar sends a sales person or someone other than the auditor then move on to another registrar. Interview the actual auditor and find the answers to the below qualifications.

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Major vs Minor Non Conformities

Ask them to describe the difference between major and minor non conformities. Have them give you examples of major non conformities that they have seen in the past.

Ask them to describe the minor non conformities as well. Ask them how many minor nonconformities are allowed within any given 9001 section before that section is considered a major non conformity.

There is probably not one right answer here. This discussion lets you see how the auditor thinks. Their answers tell you how to prepare for this auditor.

Ask them about their process on resolving non conformity issues. Normally, an ISO 9001 auditor needs to re-audit the company if a major non conformity is found. If the auditor finds a minor non conformity, then you will send a corrective action report and evidence to the auditor.

If the auditor needs to revisit because of a minor issue, then select a different registrar. 

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Improvement Recommendations

How does the auditor handle recommendations for improvement? You want an auditor that provides and documents these. You might meet the standard but an auditor can help you improve your current systems. Some auditors, audit to the standard only and will not make improvement recommendations. Stay away from these.

Audit Plan

Solicit from the auditor his pre-audit plan determination. Does he randomly select the elements to audit? Are there a couple of areas that he always covers during the surveillance audits? Does he review your past history? How much audit time does he spend on the elements?

How does the auditor handle the situation where the audit plan cannot be followed? If the auditor finds a key auditee missing, what does he do? In some cases the auditor changes the plan to look at another element. Or he may ask you to find the next person responsible. The last and worst option, he requires a follow up audit. This may be necessary for a registration audit but not for a surveillance audit.

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Quality Assurance Experience

Ask the auditor their work experience in the Quality Assurance field. Are they experienced in actually running a Quality Assurance program? As an employee, have they taken their company through ISO 9001 registration? Or have they done nothing but auditing?

I recommend selecting an ISO auditor who has been on the other side of the fence. Select someone who has managed a Quality Assurance program. This person will most likely emphasize with your views.

Selecting an auditor who lives closer to you saves money. But don’t let the initial money saving be the number one criteria. Select an ISO 9001 auditor who fits well with your company. 

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Not Ready for ISO 9001?

If you are not ready for the surveillance audit but need help on building the systems, most ISO auditors can help you with this. The surveillance auditor can do a gap analysis on your system and give recommendations for improving your system to meet ISO 9001.

However, ethically, the surveillance auditor cannot be the same person who helped you put the systems together. In other words, the surveillance auditor cannot conduct the work to help you meet the standard. The surveillance auditor cannot write the documents, put the systems in place or coach the people. You can hire another ISO 9001 auditor (different company then the surveillance auditor) to help you with this.

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