Give them enough rope….. they may surprise you! 

Ok, you’ve done due diligence. Walking through the plant you noticed processes that are not compliant with the corporate lean manufacturing standards. An audit is rapidly approaching with outside auditors. If these issues are not fixed, the result will be either a poor audit, at best, or a failed audit, at worst.   

It is not in anyone’s best interest to have a poor audit 

So, with notes in hand, you approach the plant manager to suggest they perform their own due diligence to ensure these gaps are closed before the auditors arrive. The plant manager looks at you cynically, raises his hand, and states, “I believe we’re fine. The team tells me they’re audit ready.”   

You take a deep breath and, not wanting the plant to fail, make another attempt. “I know they think they’re ready. But perhaps if you’d ask them to create an Objective Evidence book, gathering the data that proves compliance to each of those statements, they’d see for themselves there’s some work yet to be done….”   

As you come to the end of the sentence, the plant manager fixes you with a stern look. “My team and I do not have time to waste creating that Objective Evidence book. If they say they’re ready, they are.” The plant manager turns and walks back into his office.   

Well, guess we’re done here! What is that old saying? Give them enough rope, they’ll hang themselves? You tried. Perhaps after the audit, they’ll see some value in the Objective Evidence Book strategy, but it will be too late! Knowing there was nothing more that could be done, you close your computer and head out to catch your flight to the next plant.  

I’d like to say this is a fictional story…but it’s not. It happened in Asia at a manufacturing plant.  The corporate Lean Manufacturing audit was being performed at all company plants throughout the region. The team at risk was the Supply Chain organization, a young and enthusiastic group of individuals.  A poor performance would be devastating to them and would mean an audit failure for the entire plant.   

This was a major event. Failing was not an option.   

All I could do was wait, knowing I’d receive news shortly regarding their poor performance.  

finally received an email from the plant managerI hesitated before I opened it, anticipating the bad news. To my surprise, the audit had been completed and they had passed. HOWEVER, the plant manager noted, “I have to admit – I thought about your recommendation after you left. I decided to prove you wrong in your assessment, so had the team put together an Objective Evidence book for each element in the audit. The team found several gaps in their process compliance but had time to write corrective actions and provide evidence of compliance to those actions. The evidence was sufficient for the auditors to feel comfortable giving the team a PASS. Thanks for the recommendation.” 

I nearly fell out of my chair. It didn’t matter to me that the motivation to use the Objective Evidence books was to prove my assessment incorrect. What mattered to me was that the team passed the audit by having the correct processes in place. The fact the plant manager acknowledged the benefit of the strategy was icing on the cake. 

Think you’re audit ready?  Are you sure?  Are you willing to bet your plant’s performance on it? Confidence is great, but you just might be giving yourself enough rope to hang yourself…and your plant.   

Objective Evidence books are a great way to organize the requirements for any audit, along with the evidence your plant or organization complies with those requirements as demonstrated over time. They provide “one stop shopping” for an auditor and if maintained correctly, an on-going record of compliance to the standards, easily incorporated into Layered Process Audits. 

Want to learn more about the Objective Evidence Book strategy and its role in being audit ready every day?  Give us a call or email us at High Value Manufacturing Consulting. Our experienced team will help you be continuously ready for an audit.