Category Archives: Training And Development

Interview Tips – How to Crack Job Interviews Successfully?

Interview Tips to Crack Job Interviews Successfully

Following the interview tips to follow to crack the job interviews successfully:

Interview Tips
Interview Tips

Be Prepared
You must be prepared with the basic interview questions which are always asked – like your introduction, your hobbies, your interests, why should they hire you, etc. Be ready to face such questions. Practice them before your interview and try to make them interesting!

Do your homework
Always study about the company you are going to give an interview at. Know about its history and what it has to offer; what are its goals and objectives. Go through its website, press releases and data available online so that you are able to answer any questions on it.

Be on time
You must reach the company on time for the interview. Nothing looks worse than reaching late for the interview. Always try to leave early from your house and try to reach 10 minutes before the call time.

Dress up properly
As they say, your first impression is the last one. So always dress to impress. Wear crisply ironed formals, clean shoes and your hair should be neat and tied up. A nicely dressed person always tends to leave a good impression than a person who comes shabbily for the interview.

Be confident
Do not let your nervousness come up on your face. No matter how nervous you are, always look confident. A confident candidate always has a better opportunity as it shows how he can handle situations in a better way. No company wants to employ a person who is shaking due to nervousness during the interview.

Be honest and flexible
Always be honest in whatever you are being asked. Do not lie regarding any thing as it may back fire for you in the future. If you don’t know the answer to any question, say it confidently (you are not supposed to know everything and its okay). It’s better than giving wrong answers and giving a wrong impression.

Update it
Keep your CV updated and ready to be presented when asked. Your CV is the most important document which sells you to the firm. Keep it updated and make it sellable. Enhance it with all the skills you have and all that you have done in the past. Do not make the mistake of fabricating it in any way.

Be friendly
You are noticed in every way. Be friendly with other candidates, the interviewer and always keep that smile on your face; it also helps you hide away your nervousness as well. Ask questions to your interviewer about the company, your job profile, ask all doubts you have and do not make the interview one-sided.

Ask for feedback
Before the interview closes, make sure you ask the interviewer as to how it went and what are the chances of being selected (do not overdo it). It gives a positive image of the candidate as it shows his keenness towards accepting the job offer.

For more career and job related informative articles like Interview Tips, please visit our Career Section.

Certified Scrum Master (CSM) Certification Scope and Coverage

Certified Scrum Master (CSM) Certification Scope & Coverage

Certified Scrum Master (CSM) is an important certification in agile project management arena. There are few certifications for agile such as Professional Scrum Master (PSM) from and PMI’s Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP), but CSM from Scrum Alliance has been oldest of all and hence widely known and appreciated Scrum Master certification.

Certified Scrum Master (CSM)

A Certified Scrum Master (CSM) performs the following functions:

  • Aids project teams in using Scrum effectively
  • Provides expertise above that of a typical project manager
  • Acts as a ‘servant leader’ and helps the team work together and learn the Scrum framework
  • Protects the team from internal and external distractions

CSM certification has following scope and coverage. So one has to be well versed with followings terms and concepts.

Agile and Scrum Basics

  • Agile Basics
  • Agile Manifesto
  • Agile Principles
  • Agile Methods
  • Scrum Overview
  • Scrum Advantages

Scrum Roles

  • Scrum Internal and External Users
  • Product Owner
  • Scrum Development Team
  • Building Teams
  • Scrum Master and Skills
  • Other Roles

Scrum Events

  • The Sprint
  • Sprint Planning
  • Timebox
  • Daily Scrum
  • User Story
  • Sprint Review
  • Sprint Retroscpective

Scrum Artifacts

  • Scrum Product Backlog
  • Sprint Backlog
  • Increment
  • Scrum Done

Scrum Project Phases

  • Scrum Life Cycle
  • Initiate
  • Plan
  • Requirements Gathering
  • Estimation
  • Implement
  • Review
  • Release

Distributed Scrum

  • Distributed Teams
  • Distributed Communication
  • Distributed Meetings
  • Collaboration
  • Distributed Scrum Practices
  • Scaling Scrum

If you are interested in knowing more about Project Management Institute’s certifications, please read here: Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) and Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.

Sales to Delivery Handover – Essential Project Familarisation Step

Sales to Delivery Handover – Essential Step in Successful Project Start

Sales to Delivery Handover is an important and a critical task that needs to be completed as part of the Project Familiarisation.

sales to delivery handover


Below are the key steps to follow in the Sales to Delivery Handover process:

  • Why is the project important to the client?
  • Who are the key players?
  • What is the client and our company’s vision of the project?
  • What is the planned use of offshore and onshore?
  • What is the proposal?
  • What are the main deliverables?
  • What is the significance of the project milestones?
  • What is the Client Relationship Mapping?
  • Technologies, methods, timescales?
  • Are there specific security requirements?
  • What project Risks and Issues have been identified?
  • Who was involved in the Bid?
  • Where does the project fit in the context of the Account?

For more project management related information, please visit our Project Management Section.

How to Influence People – Influence and Persuasion Techniques

How to Influence People – Influence and Persuasion Technique

how to influence peopleHow to influence people is a daunting task. It is focused on methods of verbal influence and persuasion. Careful consideration is required to make an effective case. To this end, four essential aspects must be followed. These aspects are detailed here.

Stating your objective

Stating your objective requires short, informative explanations using simple, straightforward language. This explanation should also include

  • a description of how your objective benefits the organization
  • a request for your audience’s attention
  • a demonstration of value to people as well as to the mission of the organization

Demonstrating persuasion techniques

There are several common methods of verbal persuasion.

Problem and solution is a technique that describes an existing problem and then outlines a suggested solution. This technique is best when no other solution is to be offered.

Comparative advantage compares and contrasts the benefits of two or more solutions or options. This technique is best when you wish to emphasize the superiority of your preferred solution.

Reason giving provides three to five reasons why your audience should think, feel, believe, or act the same way as you do. This technique is best when you have a lot of expertise and facts to support your position.

Motivated sequence persuades and motivates through five steps:

  • attention: describe the situation or solution you wish to achieve
  • need: explain the need for this situation or solution
  • satisfaction: explain what is required to satisfy the need
  • visualization: ask the listener to visualize the positive effect of satisfying the need
  • action: give instructions on how to effect the change.

This technique is best when you want immediate action.

Using questions

Using questions can help persuade and influence by encouraging dialogue, obtaining agreement, and guiding discussion.

Open-ended questions require more than a “yes” or “no” and encourage dialogue.

Close-ended questions require a “yes” or “no” and focus responses in order to obtain agreement.

Leading questions guide the listener by suggesting the specific desired response. For example, “If we hope to encourage customers to purchase the new version of our product, shouldn’t we provide a means for them to recycle their old versions?”

Acknowledging opposing perspectives

No matter your success with the above steps, opposition can still remain, which is often frustrating. These steps can help overcome differing perspectives.

  • Imagine the person’s position. Keep an open mind and consider the other person’s perspective.
  • Ask directly about the problem. Ask what problem or roadblocks remain in the person’s mind.
  • Agree with reservations. Agree with the other person’s perspective but reserve the right to pause the discussion if it becomes counterproductive.
  • Raise the relationship. Highlight common ground and explain the beneficial relationship that your positions share.

Hope you must have liked this article on How to influence People. For more training articles on career and personality development, you can visit our section.

Audit Report Preparation – Finalizing and Delivering The Audit Report

Delivering The Audit Report

The following stages are essential in Audit Report preparation process:
• Terminology
• Recording & Reporting
• The Closing Meeting
• Corrective Actions

audit reportDelivering the Results
Audit results are the outcome from the overall audit process and can be described as:

• Audit findings presented in the audit report
• Action items arising from the findings
• Recommendations
• Corrective actions
• Value added to the business process

Before delivering the final results there is a need to go through a process wherein

• Relevant facts are agreed
• Record made of these facts and supporting evidence
• Results are evaluated
• Non-conformances and deficiencies are identified

The delivery of results (audit report), as with every other aspect of the audit activity, needs to be done in a professional manner. To do so, there needs to be complete disclosure of the information gathered during the audit. There is an onus on the audit team to facilitate understanding of the findings, and so any terminology used must be defined. It is unwise to make the assumption that the auditee will be completely familiar with the terminology used.

Terms need to be explained to prevent any misunderstanding. These include:

• Deficiency
• Observation
• Non-compliance
• Corrective Action Request
The key points to be taken from this section are:

• Be especially sensitive about and careful with the use of jargon
• Ensure that any acronyms used are fully explained and understood

Remember that the onus is on the audit team to make sure that the auditee understands the information being presented at the end of the audit and more importantly understands completely what corrective action (if any) needs to be taken.

Recording a Non-Compliance
Non-compliance with a standard must be explicitly stated and linked directly to the particular criterion where the issue has arisen. The auditor must present the auditee with information in a report format that details the following:

• The observation/evidence of the non-compliance
• The criteria/standard against which the non-compliance has been raised
• The location of the non-compliance
• The person with whom the non-compliance has been agreed
• Any corrective action that has been agreed – including time lines and responsibility for completion of the corrective action where necessary

The non-compliance must be fully described and be without any doubt before it is presented. This reinforces the need for full and objective evidence to be gathered by the auditor during the course of the audit.

Scaling the Non-Compliance
Not all non-conformances are of the same level. The impact of the non-conformances may vary according to the process or product affected. So, in order to help the auditee prioritize which issues raised in the audit need to be addressed in the first instance – non-compliances should be scaled as:

• Not meeting the requirements of the standard
• Not doing or ignoring what is stated in the documentation
• A significant gap in the quality management system
• Impacts on the product or service

• Occasional small lapses
• Doing more than the documentation says
• There is no impact on the product or service

This scaling brings a level of perspective into the process and gives better guidance to the auditee than presenting a non-scaled list of non-conformances. Remember that the audit is supposed to provide business guidance.

The Audit Report is what the Audit Team produces at the end of the audit. In order to make this an effective communication tool, the following issues need to be addressed in that the report must be:

• Professional
• Complete
• Coherent
• Structured in a usable manner
• Referenced / linked
• Understandable

The final report will most likely have two component formats:

Summary form which presents

• An overview of audit
• A list of non-conformities

Individual non-conformity reports which

• Provides details of non-conformity
• Can be used to document and track corrective action

The key issue is that the reports are seen as actionable documents that give a true record and interpretation of the situation as assessed against the audit standard. The requirement for objective evidence is paramount, as the report should not contain any opinions – only facts.

Non-Conformance Reports
For detail on the non-conformances, these reports contain:

• Single non-conformance issue on each form
• A clear description of the issue but not the corrective action required
• Linkage / reference to the standard, procedure or specification
• Objective evidence included or referenced to confirm the finding

The non-conformance reports will be viewed both separately and together as a means of assessing the organization’s ability to ‘pass’ the audit. They also form the basis for setting out the corrective actions required and to assist in the prioritization of the implementation of such corrective actions. These reports form an essential component of the audit documentation and as such must be maintained in a secure location.

Closing Meeting
The closing meeting is designed to provide the opportunity for the audit team to present the findings to, and seek agreement on them with, the auditee. To do this effectively, it is important that all relevant personnel be present at a meeting which signals the end of the audit.

Internal Audits
• Formal meeting
• Includes responsible manager

External Audits
• Formal meeting
• Usually includes the whole senior management team

As for any effective meeting, minutes need to be taken during the meeting and distributed as soon as possible afterwards.

The closing meeting is probably the last chance personnel involved in the audit can seek clarification on issues raised while the auditors are still on site.

A typical agenda for such a closing meeting is outlined below:

• Introductions
• Compliments
• Overview (Disclaimer, Positive Points, Areas of Concern)
• Details on Non-conformances and Observations
• Corrective action – agree the need for the corrective action, not the action itself.
• Recommendations
• Report and follow-up process including time lines

Control and the use of effective meeting techniques are as important in this meeting as in any other meeting during the audit process. It is important that the audit team leaves a good impression behind them when the audit is completed.

Corrective Action
Corrective action is identified to allow the audit to improve the business activities. For the audit to be effective then in terms of corrective action:

• The auditee accepts responsibility
• There is a documented agreement
• Timescales for implementation need to be agreed
• Completion of corrective actions needs to be flagged and documented

The last thing that an auditor wants is for the auditee to pay only lip service to the corrective actions. It is therefore important that the auditee puts the corrective actions into a context that allows the auditee to see the direct benefit of implementing the corrective actions.

Follow up
Follow up is necessary to show that the corrective action has been implemented and that the deficiency can be closed out:

• By having evidence of the corrected documents / records requested to be presented
• By re-audit (for the deficiencies only) to check the evidence
• On the next audit when the evidence of completion will be specifically asked for

Without follow-up, often the corrective actions remain only as action points in the audit report, nothing more. With follow up, there is some impetus for the corrective action to be carried through, thereby delivering benefit to the organization – benefit that is directly attributable to what the audit team performed – a successful audit.

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Performing Audit – Executing the plan and schedule of Audit Program

Performing Audit – Executing the plan and schedule of Audit Program

At this stage you are ready to start performing audit. The following stages are essential in this process:
• Opening The Performing Audit
• Managing Activity
• Gathering Evidence
• Attitude

performing auditOpening The Performing Audit Meeting – Outline Agenda
The opening meeting will set the scene for the overall audit and as such must deliver the required information such as:

• Introductions of the personnel on both sides
• Purpose and scope, defining the objectives
• Schedule of the audit
• Outline of administrative issues
• Methods for feedback of results
• Timing of the Closing Meeting
• Time to take Questions from the auditee

The tone of the meeting and the control exerted by the lead auditor will have an impact on the success of the audit. The lead auditor must present as a strong, but fair, chairperson at the meeting. The opening meeting provides an opportunity to clarify the expectations of both parties involved.

Opening Meeting Attendees
For an External Third \Party Audit, the following people need to be in attendance:

• Performing Audit Team from the independent auditors
• Guides and responsible people within the organization
• Senior management representation

For an Internal Audit the following people need to be at the opening meeting

• The selected Audit Team
• Representatives from the department that is to be audited
• Manager(s) of the department to be audited

Starting Off the Audit
Once the Opening Meeting has been held, the actual audit activities can get underway. It is important that the audit starts in an organized way; there is a need to manage first impressions! So the audit team needs to:

• Have all relevant documentation ready to roll
• Follow the plan & schedule
• Clearly identify the start point to the guide
• Once arrived at the start point – begin the audit
• Recognize and deal with any time wasting activity from the outset

Managing Your Activity as an Auditor
As an auditor there are several things that you will need to do to ensure that the audit will be effective and meet the objectives set:

• Identify and deal with time wasting, as time is most likely your most limited resource
• Don’t regard the checklists as the ‘only path’
• Let the guide ‘guide’ but not dictate the route
• Use the checklist to choose what documents you need to see for the scope of the audit
• Go under the ‘audit veneer’ and check in unexpected places
• Find objective evidence and secure it
• Make complete and cross-referenced notes

Remember that the activity you undertake as an auditor, the information gathered and evidence presented will directly impact any decisions made relating to the compliance or non-compliance of the organization to the audit standard. The effects of poor audit execution may be far reaching and damage not only your own reputation as an auditor but may severely damage the audited organizations business.

Gathering Objective Evidence
As an auditor it is your job to gather objective evidence, as this will form the basis of the audit results. Objective evidence has the following characteristics:

• It is fact based
• It is not an opinion
• It is supported
• It is true
• It is not a conclusion
• It is relevant to the overall context of the audit

Remember that the objective evidence must be able to stand up to scrutiny from external parties so you must as an auditor have complete faith in the fact that your evidence is objective.

Questioning Skills
To obtain evidence or basic information, an auditor needs to be able to design questions that will close an information gap. The questions will be categorised as:

• Open questions – designed to get detailed information
• Hypothetical questions – posing scenario based ‘what if’ type questions
• Probing – designed to allow the auditor to dig deeper into a topic
• Reflective questions – allows the auditor to check their understanding
• Closed Questions – require just yes or no answers
Questions are what the auditor uses to control the direction and flow of information during the audit process. Questions that are effective tend to be:

• Understandable
• Relevant
• Logical
• Professional
• Focused


The auditor has two ears, two eyes and one mouth and they should be used in that proportion:

• Two ears – to listen for and capture all information that is coming as noise!
• Two eyes – to see what is going on around the facility
• One mouth – to ask questions and control the process accordingly

Observations can include

• Appearance of the facility
• Attitude to the audit
• Evidence of ‘audit veneer’
• Housekeeping
• Morale of employees
• Signage
• Condition of equipment

Note-taking while performing Audit
When an observation is made or objective evidence is found the auditor needs to be able to capture it in his or her notes immediately. Characteristics of useful notes:

• Clear
• Logical
• Relevant
• Complete
• Secure
• Referenced

These notes form the basic reference material from which the audit decisions are made. It is therefore exceptionally important that the auditor ensures that the notes remain with them at all times or are located in a secure environment. If notes are mislaid or taken then the audit may be compromised and have to be aborted.

Aborting PerformingvAudit
Aborting an audit is rare but may be necessary if:

• The number of non-conformances is very high
• The audit objectives are compromised
• There is little or no evidence of a quality system being implemented
• Uncooperative or aggressive behavior by the personnel from the auditee

The aborting of an audit may have severe implications for the organization being audited, especially if the reason is that significant non-conformances are found early in the audit. The decision to abort must therefore be made very carefully, with full cognizance taken of the implications to the organization and in some cases to the auditor as well.

Performing Audit Team Meetings
It is crucial for the Audit Team to maintain contact during the audit programme – having audit team meetings can most effectively do this. The effectiveness of the meetings is dependent upon the following characteristics:

• Plan time in program for meetings
• Share information across the team
• Use the meeting to highlight any problems that are being experienced while performing audit
• Change the plan if necessary
• Begin to construct the bones of the report on the audit findings
• Have a strict agenda and time span for each meeting
• Involve every auditor
• Minute the meetings

The chairperson for the team meetings, usually but not always the team leader, must ensure that the meetings are effective tools for the audit team. This means that the meetings must be conducted in a way that is action oriented and inclusive.

Effective Auditor Attitude
The audit is essentially an interactive process between the auditor and the auditee. As such the effect of attitude cannot be emphasised enough. The auditor must ensure that their attitude is:

• Professional.
• Courteous.
• Helpful.
• Respectful.
• Energetic.
• Enthusiastic.
• Positive.

The audit is dependent primarily upon the auditors and their success is dependent to a large degree on their attitude displayed during the audit. With the characteristics defined above, the auditor will have the disposition to perform well in the audit.

Auditee Tactics

Auditees will use certain tactics to slow, or in some cases actually stop, the audit process. These may include:

• Taking over the opening meeting with a long-winded and unnecessary corporate presentation
• Taking the ‘scenic route’ to the audit zone
• Very slow retrieval of documents requested by the auditor
• Inability to track personnel required for questioning
• Provision of a very poor guide
• Directing the auditor to where the auditee wants them to go and keeping them there
• In depth discussions, which exclude the auditor, about trivial or unnecessary details

The auditor is usually aware that a stalling technique is being applied and can reference the schedule or the scope of the audit to move ahead. In cases where the tactics used are not stopped when the auditor requests that they are discontinued, then it may be necessary to bring the issue to the attention of the lead auditor immediately and have the incident dealt with at a higher level.

The use of auditee tactics to stall an audit relates back to the traditional view of audits and certainly prevents the audit from achieving any constructive momentum. It is the responsibility of the auditor to deal effectively with whatever situation presents itself during the audit.
The new view of the audit process is a positive one that will lead to adding value. The auditee can contribute to this by:

• Being ready for the audit
• Looking on the audit as a positive experience
• Co-operating with the auditor
• Arguing a case when relevant
• Providing access to all relevant personnel and documentation for the scope of the audit
• Providing realistic and implementable corrective actions when they need to be identified
• Providing a knowledgeable and professional guide

The Auditor from Hell!
As with any profession, auditing will have its share of ‘bad’ auditors. The definition of bad may differ from – poor attitude, to lack of knowledge, to lack of auditing skills. The following are characteristics that would be found in an ‘auditor from Hell’.

• Has pre-formed opinions before the audit and works to confirm them!
• Exhibits aggressive and bullying behaviour towards the personnel he or she interacts with
• Poor data capture habits therefore doesn’t have many facts
• Makes conclusions on the spot
• More interested in catching the auditee out as opposed to helping them

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Audit Program – Planning and Scheduling the Audit

Planning and Scheduling the Audit Program

Let’s begin planning the audit program. The following stages are essential in this process:
• Planning
• Scheduling
• Documentation
• Constraints

audit programAs with most planning activities, the aim of having a plan is to maximise return on the resources expended. Remember – failing to plan is planning to fail. The plan is the roadmap for the audit and as such needs to be very definitely tied in to the overall scope and objectives of the audit.
The audit program plan must cover all the stages as previously discussed from pre- to post-audit.

The audit program plan should be:

• Clearly understandable by ALL involved
• Logical
• Functional
• Realistic
• Communicated effectively
• Based on well-defined measurable objectives

Typical issues covered by the plan would be

• Explanation of why the audit is taking place
• When the audit will take place
• Where the audit will take place
• Duration / Schedule of the audit
• What the preparation will involve
• What the key audit activities will be
• Who will be involved in the audit and what their roles and responsibilities will be

Scheduling the Audit
The schedule is dependent upon a number of factors:

• Time available to the audit team
• Objectives of the audit
• Scope of the audit
• Complexity of the audit activity
• Availability of personnel who need to be involved
• Location and layout of the facility being audited

Without a well-defined schedule, the audit may not be completed to a satisfactory standard due to a lack of time or loss of access to personnel or processes because the window of opportunity for contacting them has closed. The schedule is therefore a vital part of the audit plan and needs to be clearly communicated to and understood by, all who are involved in the audit. The schedule may be amended as the audit progresses if issues arise that either require more or less time than had originally been anticipated.

Audit Documentation
As with any process, there is a requirement for documentation in the audit process. The audit process has a requirement for documentation as follows:

• Quality Manual
• Standards / reference guides
• Audit plan
• Audit checklists
• Business information on the auditee
• Information on past audits, especially focusing on corrective actions for previous non-conformances

This documentation must be available to the audit team so that the information contained therein will be used to increase the effectiveness of the audit.

Audit Checklists
Checklists are used as the guidance tool for the auditor to ensure that the full scope is covered. Checklists may be generated as:

• Criteria based: The criteria laid down in the standard form the basis of questions which will check conformance
• Departmental based: The checklist questions are designed around a core process or activity
Characteristics for an effective checklist would be:

• Focused short questions
• Logical sequencing
• Comprehensive in coverage
• Understandable in terms of the language used
• Set in the context of the audit
• Have traceability build in

Audit Checklist Sections

A typical section format for a checklist might be:

• Audit subject / number
• Auditor identification
• Organization / Department to be audited
• Date & time
• Reference documents
• Requirement reference
• Questions
• Space for notes / evidence

The checklist would be designed and used as a standard document for the audit so that the information and activities was presented in a consistent and functional way.

Preparing an Audit Checklist
When preparing an audit checklist the following must be taken into consideration to make it an actionable and applicable checklist:

• Working knowledge of the various procedures, contracts and standards that are involved
• Focus on specific areas as defined by the scope
• Identify who should be asked what
• Bear in mind the objectives of the audit and match the checklist to provide information to allow these objectives to be met
• Construct meaningful questions

Constraints on the Audit Checklist
When designing the checklist, there are several constraints to be taken into account such as:

• Time – there is a need to make every question count, as time is usually a limiting factor
• Personnel availability to answer the questions needs to be taken into account
• Knowledge and experience of the auditor

The linkage to relevant documentation such as the standard against which the audit is being made needs to be apparent.

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Audit Committee Formation – Setting Up The Audit Team

Audit Committee Formation

The Audit Committee
The team needs to be formed so as to have:

• Enough members to split the work equitably and process the audit within the defined schedule
• Capability in terms of skills and experience
• Independence
• Understanding of the business processes

audit committeeThe final requirement is for a team leader who has got:

• Excellent communication skills
• Excellent time management skills
• Effective delegation style
• High level of knowledge and intelligence
• Power and respect

The leader will have full responsibility for the completion of the audit in a professional manner. The skills outlined above are the basic pre-requisites to ensure that the person who assumes the role of leader has the competency to lead an effective and efficient audit.

Composition of the Audit Committee
The Audit Team is composed of

• Lead Auditor
• Auditors
• Guides from the auditee.

Each has a defined role to play in the successful execution of an audit.

Let’s look at each of these team roles in more detail.

Lead Auditor Responsibilities
The Lead Auditor is basically in charge of the audit from inception to close. This entails:

• Ultimate responsibility for everything that is associated with the audit
• Definition of the scope of the audit
• Involved with the selection of other team members
• Preparation of the audit plan
• Guidance of the preparation process
• Team briefing and communication
• Representation of the audit team with the auditee
• Ultimate decision-making throughout the process
• Preparation of final audit report

The role of the leader is wide and varied and success of the audit is largely dependent upon having an excellent leader. From the description of the role presented above it is easy to see how necessary it is for the leader to have the skills outlined in an earlier section.

Auditor Responsibilities.
The auditor has the following responsibilities:

• Understanding the audit process
• Being conversant with the audit plan
• Complying with the agreed audit requirements
• Planning and carrying out responsibilities as detailed and assigned by the lead auditor
• Documenting all observations clearly & accurately
• Working within the set time frame and schedule
• Maintaining a professional approach to the auditee
• Accurately reporting the results of the audit activities undertaken
• Verifying the validity of corrective actions
• Managing all relevant documents
The auditor will be deeply involved in running the actual processes associated with the audit, working as an integral part of the audit team. The requirement for accuracy, transparency, organizational skills and process / product knowledge is vital for the auditor to effectively carry out their role.

Guide’s Responsibilities
The guide is provided by the auditee so as to:

• Provide guidance to the auditors
• To assist the auditors through knowing who does what in the organization
• Knowledge of and ability to explain the Quality System
• Not to provide the answers – only guide
• To take notes on the audit activity if requested by the organization
• To assist with the flow of the audit – not to impede it
• The authority to accept non-conformances

The guide needs to be fully conversant with the facility, processes, products and people so that they can be effective in the role. In the past, guides were selected because of their ability to ‘stall’ an auditor’s progress, now auditors will act of they feel the guide is more of an impediment than a help.

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Introduction to Company Audit – Auditing Overview

An Introduction to Company Audit

Why Company Audit?

Here are some of the main reasons why organizations engage in auditing.

• To check compliance with a standard or with regulatory guidelines
• To provide a vigilance system
• To emphasise and maintain compliance as an everyday work function
• To identify opportunities for improvement

What is an Company Audit?

Although auditing can mean many things to different individuals or organizations it is essential that we start with a definition of auditing. We believe that the definition below represents a comprehensive definition that isolates all of the important aspects of a quality-driven and evidence-based audit system.

company audit“A systematic, independent and documented process for obtaining audit evidence and evaluating it objectively to determine the extent to which audit criteria are fulfilled.” [ISO 9000:2000]


As you begin to understand the complex nature of audits further you may develop your own definition of what matches your organizations needs. We would however recommend that you take some time to learn the above definition.

Types of Audit
There are three primary types of audit within organizations regardless of sector or size.

First Party – Company Audit

• Self or internal audit
• Scheduled
• Process focus
• Internal audit team appointed & trained
• Required activity for compliance

Second Party – Company Audit

• Audit by a customer
• Scheduled
• Focused according to customer requirements
• May be undertaken by consultants retained by the customer
• May be a contractual obligation

Third Party – Company Audit

• Audit by an independent, usually for certification purposes
• May not be scheduled
• Poor performance can result in loss of certification or quality standard accreditation
• Usually an in-depth audit of a particular aspect of the operations, although sometimes it may involve an in depth assessment of the performance of the entire operation

Further Types of Audit

Internal Audits
Internal audits represent an additional type of audit within organizations. The following are important lessons that can assist you in developing an excellent audit system.

• Internal auditors must be drawn from a cross-functional pool
• Internal auditors must have the respect of their peers
• Internal audits must be seen to have the power to enforce corrective actions and be properly resourced
• Internal auditors must be trained in audit technique
• Internal audits form part of the overall vigilance process and as such must be documented
• Internal audits must be scheduled

Typical information recorded for internal audits are:
• Audit number / subject – this allows traceability in the audit schedule
• Auditor(s) involved
• Dates (scheduled and completed)
• Revision date / status
• Current status of non-compliances

External Audits
For some organizations there may be a requirement to engage in external audits. The following represent the key characteristics of these audits:

• Independent third parties carry out external audits
• Auditors involved in third party audits tend to be professionals trained in audit techniques
• External audits are imposed on the organization
• External auditors may in some cases have a high level of power that can be used to enforce compliance to standards
• A certain ‘fear factor’ may come to bear on the external audit due to the power of the auditor
• External audits have defined standards to assess compliance against
• Interaction with an external auditor tends to be limited to professional matters only to maintain independence

Focus of an Audit

Having learnt the main types of audits that exists it is now important to turn our attention to the focus audits

• Product Audit – looking at one product as it flows through the systems of an organization
• Process Audit – looking at the effectiveness of a process to identify where improvements can be made
• Regulatory Audit – looking at compliance with a set of regulatory guidelines such as those imposed upon the Pharmaceutical industry by the FDA

Traditional View of Audits

Audits have traditionally been viewed with a degree of suspicion in that the auditor’s role is perceived to be one of ‘catching organizations out’ as opposed to helping organizations to improve. However, the role of the auditor is much more than this.

• Auditors emerge from the quality function
• Documentation review is the main aim
• Auditors seen as being policemen
• Negatives and trivia are the main highlights!
• Emphasis form the organization’s viewpoint is to ‘evade or minimise detection of non compliances’

Perception of Audits

As indicated above traditional views of auditing have seen audits as:
• Negative and nit-picking
• Not focused on key business activities
• A game that can be played and won
• Paper chase
• Limited or zero use / value to those being audited
This perception has in the past led to audits being seen as impediments to business as opposed to enhancing or improving business activities. In addition such perceptions have negatively impacted the value which auditing can bring to the organization.

‘New View’ of Audits

Every day organizations are adopting a ‘new view’ on auditing and accepting the key benefits that auditing can deliver. This new appreciation of auditing has also shaped how audits are delivered.

• Auditors emerge from all departments and functions within the business
• Knowledge of the business is important
• Move from ‘paper’ to ‘process’
• Seen as an advantage in terms of assisting in continuous improvement
• Integral part of business activity

This new view of auditing has advantages for both the auditor (in that the level of co-operation and transparency is increased) and for the auditee (in that the fear factor is removed and constructive criticism can be expected).

Criteria-Based Auditing

The traditional view of auditing and the perceptions attached to it were due in part to the auditors using only a criteria-based approach as opposed to a whole business model approach to quality standards as evidenced by people, process and product aspects of the organization.

• Criteria-based auditing made the assumption that adherence to procedures meant conformity of output
• Effectiveness can be doubtful
• Very much documentation based
• Removed from the actual process

Audit Objectives
There are five potential objectives for an audit and they may appear by themselves or as combinations when an audit is being planned. These objectives are:

• Registration
• Conformity
• Regulation
• Improvement
• Effectiveness

Although it may seem an obvious point the audit team and the auditee must be very clear from the beginning as to what exactly the objectives are for the audit in order that the audit will be successful.


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What is Auditing System? – An Introduction to Audit Process

An Introduction to Audit Process

audit processAll effective audit process or system includes three recognizable stages:

• Pre-Audit Activities
• Audit History
• Scoping The Audit

Pre-Audit Activity

Initial preparation will assist you

• Gain an understanding of the system to be audited
• Check any previous audit history information particularly focus on corrective actions identified to highlight any ‘hot spots’
• Ensure understanding of the regulations or standards to be used in the audit
• Contact and agree audit objectives with relevant personnel
As with a business process, the success level of the outcome is primarily dependent upon the level and accuracy of the planning which had been put in beforehand. The importance of planning an audit cannot be stressed enough so proper pre-audit activity is essential to the success of the audit

Audit History

Using documented information from previous audits can be useful when preparing the audit as it will allow you to examine:

• Attitudes towards the audit process and results throughout the organization or in specific departments
• Regularity of audit activity and the time scales allocated previously
• Indication of the level of completion of corrective actions identified and the speed with which changes were implemented
• Identification of ‘hot spots’ i.e. areas where recurring problems are evident
The audit history can give the auditor some leads as to areas where attention needs to be focused during the audit. Using the response to issues raised as non-conformances in previous audits, including the time lines used in any remedial actions, the auditor can gain some sense of how the audits are viewed within a particular area. The auditor when selecting an appropriate style for interaction with the personnel during the audit can use this information.

Defining the Scope of the Audit

Scoping the audit at the outset is crucial if the audit is to be a success. The scope covers:

• System elements to be examined are defined
• Locations to be investigated are listed
• Activities covered by the audit are identified
• Time frame over which the audit will be carried out
• Standards against which conformity will be gauged will be clearly identified

The scope may be limited to fall within a specified time frame, process or product. It serves primarily to give focus to the audit and allows both the auditor and the auditee to have exact knowledge as to where the audit will take them in the organization.

Benefits of Having an Audit Scope
The outcomes of scoping an audit bring benefits to the auditors

• It provides focus
• Activities are defined
• Time lines and schedules are known

The auditees also gain from an audit scope as

• It gives some ‘pre-warning’ of focus areas
• Time lines and schedules are known
• Surprises are limited

Audit Process Flow
The following are the basic steps in the flow of an effective audit. It can be seen that the actual auditing is only one activity.

• Initial Preparation
• Detailed Planning
• Opening Meeting
• Auditing
• Reporting
• Closing Meeting
• Follow-up
So from the points above it can be seen that the process flow of an audit can be broken into three distinct stages:

• Pre-audit activity: Preparation, planning and opening meeting
• Audit activity
• Post-audit activity: Report writing, closing meeting and follow-up

This road map for the audit process makes it easy for the auditor and auditee to know where the process should be and what activities are associated with each of the phases.

Looking at Processes

When looking at processes, the auditor needs to be aware of the following:

• Process inputs
• Process outputs
• Process equipment (if any)
• Control mechanisms on the process
• Impact of any deviations.
• Resources required by / provided to the process
• Critical points in the process
• Ownership of the process
• Evidence of continuous improvement in the process

Having this level of knowledge or information allows the auditor to focus in on the main issues and avoid the trivia of the ‘old style’ audits. The business focus of the audit can be clearly defined especially when the emphasis is on the critical points of the process and not just on the overall documentation. Knowledge of the process also enhances the auditor’s credibility with the personnel involved and allows the auditor to critically evaluate any information in real time.

Looking at Products
When looking at products the auditor must be tuned into issues such as:

• Specifications of the end product
• Impact of deviations
• Supply chain issues from supplier to customer
• Product quality
• Customer satisfaction
• Life cycle stage
• Design & development

The same issues of credibility and judgment as presented in the last section on processes hold equally true here.

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