Auditophobia! The Quality Portal :: Guest Author Series

O.S. Balaji

Quality Management Professional with experience in implementing Quality management systems across diversified industries.Worked along in ISO 9001:2000, CMM, CMMi, Six Sigma & TS 16949. Click here for his blog.

"... possess the three c’s: confident, communicative, co-operative ..."
I have never seen Craig so restless in recent times. When I walked into his office to meet him, he seemed to be deeply immersed over some thought. With a little bit of probing I uncovered the reason and of course quite surprised by to know about it.

The reason: in a couple of days, Craig’s organization is going to be audited by an external certification agency for verifying their compliance to Quality Management system. Being the head of Purchase department, Craig has been struck down by the audit syndrome and was feeling the pressure.

Craig is not an exception in this case; whenever the words - audits, assessments, inspections are heard many people tend to press the panic button .They tend to be affected by Auditophobia - fear of audits!

So what does it take to be a good auditee? Here are few thoughts which shall help a person to be a good auditee:

'Fear breeds fear'

The basic issue that destabilizes a human mind is sense of fear and uneasiness over being questioned for correctness.

If a person has faith in processes and follows it religiously, there is nothing really to ponder about. People who say ”... we thoroughly follow all the processes, but …”, just relax, you have done your part, if there are any minor things that are going to be found out during an audit, let it be found out.

However meticulous one may be in following the processes and procedures, there are definitely going to be some shortcomings or lack of complete conformance in some aspect or other. So, nothing to fear when all your records are clear, but beware not to be complacent.

Nothing personal about it

The definition of audit states, it is an exercise to verify the functioning of all the processes that constitute an organization’s overall system. It is not aimed to criticize or blame anyone. It is strictly a fact finding exercise .So do not take anything reported against you very personally.

Law of audit

Any audit exercise comes with a disclaimer, ”Audit is a sampling exercise, low number of non conformances does not indicate very high process conformance or vice versa “. Hence it is not advisable to use the audit findings as a yardstick to measure individual performance levels, rather it needs to be looked upon as an avenue for improving the processes.


Now comes the toughest part of audit, facing the auditor. But let us be clear it is not as tough as you presume; it just depends on individual’s perception.

Always look upon audits with a positive frame of mind. This is where the top Management of organizations has a role to play in driving in this message.

Once the auditor comes to your place, greet him with a smile; introduce yourself and strike a general conversation which could be the icebreaker so that you could handle the audit in a more cordial manner.

‘Cometh the hour ...’

So you have done everything right and it’s just a matter of time the auditor looks into all the records and asks questions.

Few tips to be kept in mind:

  • Keep your records in a easily identifiable manner. A clear labeling system could be of great use irrespective of whether records are kept in hard or soft form.
  • Answer the questions upto the point. But wherever required, elaborate on the issue so that auditor gets the picture in totality.    
  • Be assertive while answering but never be arrogant.
  • If you feel the auditor is zeroing on a loophole of which you are well aware of, try to handle the situation in a positive way. After gently accepting that there has been a let down in following the process one may immediately follow it up with explaining how that issue has been discussed already .
    • For eg: "In fact we had discussed this issue in our team meeting and have come with couple of measures to address this to ensure that such a nonconformance does not occur at first place". This gives a impression that you are quite serious in adopting the processes and non conformances are dealt with due care.
  • If the auditor reports a nonconformance which is quite evident, never argue over the same.

Last but not the least, the person sitting before you is well trained and experienced person, so trying to outsmart the auditor does not help your cause.

Just in the manner there are desirable qualities listed for a good auditor, an auditee to a bare minimum needs to possess the three C’s: Confident, Communicative, Co-operative.

If audit is looked about as a value adding activity and the auditor as a person trying to uncover organization’s strong and weak areas, definitely we have a solution to put an end to Auditophobia.


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