Why We Love AuditsBy: Roshawn Johnson
Audit – a word that strikes fear into the hearts of the auditees. Audits typically involve a figure of authority looking at a company’s records and processes to identify problems that need to be fixed. Auditing is often considered a time-sink that takes employees away from other pressing company matters.
But the truth is that audits actually have their benefits, for both parties, especially in the manufacturing environment. Audits are a chance to get another set of eyes to review existing processes and offer an alternative perspective. In many cases, seeing something day in and day out can limit the opportunities for improvement. An outside perspective can often spot these with relative ease.
There are two major types of audits performed at Lehigh, internal and external. Internal audits are conducted routinely each year by a cross-functional group of employees who have been through specialized training to understand the auditing process. Lehigh recognizes the value of internal quality audits to the entire organization. During the process, internal auditors flag potential issues that could lead to systematic failures, and they identify opportunities to eliminate waste and incorporate lean principles. Conducting internal audits also helps the auditors themselves by giving them insight into areas of the organization that they are not closely familiar with and allowing them to consider the bigger picture while executing their daily activities.
External audits are performed through several different relationships. Lehigh is ISO 9001 and 14001 certified and is audited annually by multinational corporations to those standards. Being ISO certified assures that Lehigh has appropriate quality and environmental systems in place. We also routinely have customers perform supplier audits. Customer audits are particularly beneficial because they help to build positive relationships with greater trust and understanding. These audits are sometimes performed to the requirements of the customer or to standards such as VDA 6.3. Audits are typically designed to search for conformance. Instead of looking for problems, a savvy auditor is simply verifying that appropriate procedures and standards are being followed and reviewing the core of a company’s processes. This true spirit of auditing helps to build dynamic relationships that focus on solid foundations and continual improvement.
We take great pride in our operational excellence program that allows us to excel as a small company even with very vigorous audits tailored to much larger organizations. By expanding our quality systems and audit responsibilities throughout the organization instead of relying on a single department, we ensure that our systems are owned with pride by those executing the routine assignments.