Ten Tips for Selecting and Using a Consultant – 6. Evaluate the effectiveness of the system

Most auditors find it relatively easy to assess the compliance of a defined or documented process to the requirements of the standard. They even find it relatively easy to see if the actual practice matches the defined or documented process. However, auditors often struggle with, or even overlook, assessing how well the practice is actually performed.

Every audit situation should be examined from three perspectives:

1. Intent: “Have you said what you do?”

Do the defined or documented processes adequately express your approach?

2. Implementation: “Have you done what you said?”

Do the observed and recorded practices show conformity with the stated intent?

3. Effectiveness: “Have you done it well?”

Do the results of the process indicate the desired outcomes have been achieved?

ISO 9000:2000 defines “effectiveness” as the extent to which planned activities are realized and planned results are achieved. In other words, to judge effectiveness you look not only at the conformity of a process, but also at its results compared to its objectives.

However, please note that ISO 9001:2000 requires an “effective” system, not necessarily an “efficient” one. Efficiency, the relationship between the result achieved and the resources used, is only addressed in the ISO 9004:2000 Guidelines for Performance Improvement.

Speaking of improvement, don’t overlook it. A process may be defined, deployed, and effective, yet still need to be improved for better results and more business success.