Focus on Quality: Management Systems Audit Program

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The Roman philosopher Seneca once said “Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know which harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.” The primary way that ancient mariners stayed on course was to plot their positions periodically with a sextant and compass. With these instruments, sailors could find their way across the vast oceans and safely make it to port. In much the same way, a quality system helps us remain on a steady path of improvement by periodically plotting its quality position by the performance of quality audits.

Audits are the compass by which we continually improve our quality systems. When these systems are implemented, we set up goals and make periodic measurements to determine that we are still “on course.” When that course needs adjustment, audits again point the way. But none of this would be possible without the selfless efforts of our all-volunteer auditor pool.

Becoming an Auditor
Many people have asked me, “What do I need to do to become an auditor?” The first step is to get the permission of your immediate supervisor. Once permission has been obtained, print the Auditor Application Sheet from the SPID site on Ergon’s intranet, http://ergonweb, to download the Auditor Application Sheet. Completing the two-page application signifies your interest in, as well as management approval for, the program and provides the initial information needed to assess your candidacy. Applicants are contacted regarding the outcome of their application. Once the application is approved, auditors are scheduled for the Auditor Training classes, usually held in January. Once these training classes are completed, the student is qualified to participate in at least two audits as an observer. From that point, you will be scheduled as part of a two or three-person team for two audits per year. Occasionally, opportunities for additional audits arise due to cancellations. All Ergon auditors are eligible to fill these open assignments. However, audits exceeding two per year must have your Supervisor’s approval.

Benefits of being an Auditor
The next question normally is, “Do I get any extra pay?” Unfortunately, there is no monetary compensation for auditing; however, I can truly say that there are several tangible benefits for you and the company. A few of these benefits are listed below:
• business travel to various Ergon facilities nationwide
• grow professionally in knowledge of Ergon companies and ISO Standards
• apply lessons learned from audits to enhance and improve your job
• meet our fellow Ergonots around the company and provide the audited companies with valuable
• improvement opportunities.

Need for Auditors
Ergon is a dynamic company in that it is growing at an ever-increasing pace. Many of these new companies are implementing Quality Management Systems (QMS). These newly-implemented QMS must be frequently audited at regular intervals; and, to do that, we must have trained auditors to perform that service. This year, we have 48 audits scheduled to be conducted by 45 auditors. Next year, it is estimated that we will perform at least 54 audits with roughly the same number of auditors available. The projections for the 2010 audit year point to a growth of at least another 10 audits with an unknown number of auditors. For this reason, it is imperative that we acquire and train new auditors to meet this growing need. If you feel that auditing Quality Management Systems might be an opportunity that you would enjoy, by all means, join our team! Remember, the benefits you will receive will far outweigh the effort you expend in the program while serving your colleagues and operations in other Ergon business segments.

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