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Monday, 22 October 2012

Why carry out Internal Audits?

All of the Management Systems require internal audits to be carried out at least once a year; these audits provide confidence to the top management that the management system is performing as it should, or it identifies elements that are not conforming.  In my experience I have found that organisations that do not carry out audits properly or don’t do them at all are lulling themselves into a false sense of security.  Audits should not be considered an unnecessary overhead but a method of ensuring that things are as they should be.

 I visited a company that had largely ignored the auditing process and had been audited by one of their major customers as party of a review.  The customer's auditor was not at all pleased with what he saw; in fact he said that unless some major improvement was achieved within three months he would recommend that the supplier/customer relationship would be at an end.

This is where Quality Matters was appointed to help and get the quality management system back on track.  So far we have updated policies and procedures, set up KPI's to measure how well each department is doing and finally we will carry out a full management system audit to ensure full compliance.

The company will, of course, need to maintain the system in future and they have decided to send their internal auditors to one of our certificated internal management audit courses to update their knowledge and ensure that the company quality system is maintained.  

The good news is that the company’s supplier has renewed their contract for another year.
Internal audits are an essential part of any company’s management strategy;   they should not be a battle-ground; they should be able to show compliance with systems documented procedures and processes. 

An auditor should not set out to find things wrong but is there to confirm that things are right. If an area is not performing well then the auditor will, of course, point this out and get the person or department being audited to put it right.

In these troubled times it is essential that organisations get the very best out of their management systems and auditing is one way of making this happen.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Wet is not nearly accurate enough

I have been spending a fair amount of time in the north of England and recently the weather conditions have been atrocious.  At one stage I wondered  if a boat would have been a better mode of transport.

One of my car journeys was particularly memorable, It was just getting dark when a car coming towards me began flashing his headlights;  possibly a police speed trap?  I rounded a bend in the road and realised the true meaning of the flashing.  The road was more of a lake than a road,  should I risk it and drive through or find an alternative route.  I decided that it might be better to follow the locals and turn around.  The flood could have been very deep in the middle and being marooned was not my idea of fun.

I mention this situation as I found out later that two of my clients had been flooded out of their premises.  Their server rooms were on the ground floor and although the servers were in racks, the cabling and connections were not sufficiently high to escape the deluge.

Fortunately both clients have robust business continuity and disaster recovery plans.  It took one client two days and the other three days to have a temporary home and get systems up and running, thus proving the benefit of this type of disaster planning.

The Met Office said that these were the worst storms for 30 years.  Our business continuity systems were written to cope with most emergencies   and I am glad that  my Clients were able to 'weather the storm',  literally in these cases.

ISO27001 specifies a business continuity procedure should be in place and  BS ISO 22301:2012 Societal security  business continuity management system (which replaces BS 25999) also requires a robust business continuity and disaster recovery plan to be in place.

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