Most Difficult to Audit

If you were to pick clauses from the ISO 9001 standard to be on your “Most” list, which ones would you select? I’ve chosen 6.1 as the most difficult to audit, 4.1 as the most ignored in audits, and 4.2.3 as the most nonconforming in audits. This article is on clause 6.1. The other two clauses are covered in separate articles in this newsletter.

Most Difficult to Audit – 6.1

If you’ve been asked to audit an organization against the requirements of ISO 9001, clause 6.1, Provision of Resources, where do you begin?

First, understand a “resource” is a source of supply, support, or aid that can be readily drawn upon when needed. Using this definition, the resources needed for a quality management system may include equipment, facilities, people, supporting services, work environment, suppliers, information, natural resources, and finances.

Next, identify the audit criteria (requirements) stated in clause 6.1:

The organization must determine and provide the resources needed to:

  • Implement and maintain the quality management system
  • Continually improve the effectiveness of the system
  • Enhance customer satisfaction by meeting customer requirements

Then, interview the managers responsible for the area to see how resources are being identified, planned, provided, used, monitored, and changed. However, don’t audit “resources” in isolation. Verify that managers are evaluating process performance to determine the needed resources.

If inadequate resources are provided, the process will suffer and you may spot nonconformities. Don’t make subjective judgments on the proper resource level. Limit your role to evaluating the effectiveness of the resources, i.e., see if the process is delivering the planned results.

After asking questions about resource planning and budgeting, interview employees to see if the allocated resources are sufficient to meet customer requirements and continually improve the results of the system.

But, be careful not to get caught in the middle of an ongoing resource dispute. An employee may state that some work was not completed as planned due to the lack of resources. While that may be true, you should write up the resulting nonconformity, not the possible resource issue.

The corrective action will require the organization to identify the root cause of the problem. If the nonconformity was caused by a lack of resources, then the plan will be changed to fit the resources, or more resources will applied.

If you are interested in one of our auditor courses, please see our Auditing page for course listings, description and class schedule.