Audit audacity

Yesterday was certainly fun-filled. Our branch had a quality audit, so in my official capacity as ‘Guy Who Deals With Quality Stuff in the Office’ (I have a plaque on my door which says so – well okay, maybe I don’t), I spent the entire time digging out files and trying to explain to the auditor how things work here. The first part was easy enough, but describing our business in terms that this outsider could understand ended up being a frustratingly fruitless waste of time. The guy had a background in manufacturing, so he had trouble bending his tiny mind around the concept that we produce designs, not jumbo jets.

“Where are your inspection and test records?”, he asked.
“There aren’t any”, was my immediate response.
“What? Why not? That’s a serious problem!”
“I see. So are you saying that we should inspect and test our drawings? Keep records of things like, ‘Are they flat enough?’; ‘Are they printed on paper, versus clay tablets?’; ‘Are they printed in ink, not blood’ and so forth?”
“No, no. That’s not what I mean.”
“Well then, what should we be testing and how?”
“I don’t know!”
“Ah.”

And shortly thereafter:

“I want to see your safety records.”
“So I assume you’d like to see something along the lines of, ‘Number of paper cuts per week’ or ‘Annual hot coffee spillage episodes’ perhaps?”
“Oh, just forget it!”

The auditor ended up issuing us a single (minor) Nonconformity Report and fled – clearly relieved that his ordeal was over. Maybe this is why I’m ‘Guy Who Deals With Quality Stuff in the Office’.

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20 thoughts on “Audit audacity

  1. VERY funny. Sure you’re not Dilbert perchance? Do you have a cubicle of your very own and a pointy haired boss? All sure signs.

    jbomp: Too early to think up a definition for this word of the day. Need coffee.

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  2. Eat them alive!! I hate auditors. My new boss used to be an auditor so all he knows about the pub trade is stocks and cash. He has NO IDEA about customers or staff happiness. He’s such a … sorry, he winds me up!

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  3. but, to be one could be cool though.
    a friend of mine audits processes at major hotels around SA for a perticular group. all she does is travel to 5 star places half the month and every one of them tries so hard to impress her that she normally ends up in the presidential suites etc.
    she gets to boss people around and turn their lives upside down for a few days.
    mmm, the little bastard in me is coming out.

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  4. bee: I am a bit like Dilbert, but he’s much better looking.

    del: I don’t mind auditors as much as I hate clueless auditors. This guy did zero preparation and expected to get by on us being in awe of his status as External Auditor.

    chitty: What could be more fun than selling balloons? You, my friend, have no soul.

    anne: You’ve got me pegged 🙂 Actually, tt was too easy to be really satisfying – no real challenge.

    buddess: Tickbirds! LOL. I shall now institute the Venerable Order of the Tickbird in my company.

    bigric: I don’t suppose it would surprise you to learn that one of my other functions is that of internal quality auditor. What’s really cool about the job is when people hate you for simply walking into the room. Normally, it takes hours of effort to achieve the same effect.

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  5. Uh, yeah, that Dilbert – he’s a hottie {ahem}. I think I want to take you to work with me. Kind of like a ‘show and tell’ thing. I’ll show them you and you can tell them to blow it out their ass. Sound like fun? I might actually enjoy going to work that day!

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  6. Aha! As internal quality auditor you knew which buttons to push (never underestimate the value of the apparent underachiever). As for the external auditor, sounds like he’s got the Peter Principle nailed!

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  7. Um, quality. Couldn’t have been a very smart auditor. If I had been him I might have asked how many of your bridges you’d designed had collapsed.

    Seems kind of important…

    (And no, I am not an auditor. Dammit.)

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  8. We’re having problems at work with the freight elevator. The stupid thing is old and temperamental. They’ve had no less than 5 different people in to look at it, play with it, inspect it and allegedly fix it. Two days ago, there was some dour-faced guy inspecting it. I casually brought up the fact the gate doesn’t close properly and it’s a real pain in the ass. He stared at me blankly and said, “Yeah, I imagine it is.” Right. That really inspires confidence. Oh and the inspection cert posted inside the elevator bears an expiration date of June 30, 2005. As in nearly three months ago. Lovely the way they take care of things..

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  9. livewire: It’s a date! ”…blow it out their ass…” LOL. Love that expression.

    andrea: But of course – on both counts. One of the secrets they teach you in auditing school (and I would be struck from the roll if they knew I was telling you this), is to ask your question and after the auditee usually gives their answer, you say nothing, but look at them expectantly, or write something in your notes and say, “Hmmm…”. Usually, the auditee fills the silence by babbling and that’s where the useful information often comes out, because people tend to say too much. Conversely, when you are being audited and the auditor asks something, you keep your answer short and immediately shut up after giving it. That way, the auditor will be forced to keep asking questions to find out what they want to know. “I’m sorry, but I don’t quite understand the question”, is another approach and my personal favourite.

    IITQ: Exactly! Another question which might seem kind of important would be, “How do you ensure that they don’t fall down?”

    terri: I’ve read about your dreams and I think you’re bang on the money there.

    shizgirl: Yes, it kind of inspires the same sort of confidence that one has in food that’s 3 months past the sell-by date – a loosening of the bowels in both instances.

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  10. office space must be one of the best ever movies. I really need to get it on DVD. it still cracks me up seeing the guys beat the crap out of the printer.
    “um, yeah. we need to move you to the basement.” “but but but…”
    classic

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  11. Hmmm.. I work for a multi-national listed on the NY SE, and we are being audited too.. it is a pain in the booty !!! we have the 3 main (KPMG, E&Y, PWC) ones auditing us, and each other …

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  12. tj: Still need to see that one, but it sounds like it cuts a bit too close to the quick.

    bigric: Yup – as per my comment to TJ.

    elize: Fun and games. At least quality audits aren’t quite as intense as financial audits.

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