How did you get involved in Quality?
Before working for myself as a quality auditor, I was a Quality Manager who got businesses ready for their audits for 21 years. From this, I got to see the benefits that a good Quality Management System had on a business, and gave me valuable key experience of being involved in audits, even though I wasn’t the one carrying them out yet.
For the past 6 years, I have been carrying out approximately one audit per week for businesses in a varied range of industries. Recently I calculated that in total I have been involved in around 430 audits as either a business representative preparing them for audit, or as the lead auditor. I am now an independent contractor, and enjoy the freedoms this gives me to have a wider range of experience in different industries.
What are your specialisms as a Quality Auditor?
I specialise in achieving certification for companies in regards to quality, environment and safety. My first ISO experience was in 1998, and since then I have trained in ISO 9001, as well as 14001 and 45001.
I am always eager to learn new things which will add to my knowledge as a quality auditor. These standards are so dynamic and ever-improving that I enjoy keeping up-to-date with them to provide my clients with the most effective service possible.
What is your favourite thing about Quality Management?
I find that the sense that I am helping someone to understand something that they found confusing very satisfying.
For example, I recently had to explain various certification concepts to a relatively inexperienced safety manager. He was already doing most of what the standard said, but I helped him use the correct verbiage in order to achieve certification.
In my work as a quality auditor get complimented often on putting standards into layman’s terms. The majority of people I work with don’t have a background in quality, and they are happy when I explain it to them at a level they understand. When people understand the standards, it’s easier for them to see how they benefit them. I find it easier to express these complicated concepts to people as I remember being that person who didn’t understand quality yet, and I just think of how I would’ve liked it to be explained to me.
What does a typical day of work look like for you?
Pre and post covid workdays look very different! Since March I have only travelled once, and have worked almost everyday remotely from my study. During my work day as a quality auditor I mostly lead audit teams, and I am currently investigating the best approach for using communication technology for performing remote audits.
What interests you about becoming a mentor?
What attracts me is the potential that I could make a difficult subject easier for someone to understand. Helping more businesses understand quality management systems and what they can achieve for them is why I have signed up.
What do you think the next big thing will be in Quality?
I have read ISO assessments and inspections talking about the post covid world, and I think all quality related audits inspections and site visits will have a virtual component going forward.
The financial benefits have become clear during this time – for example, a reduction in travel costs of the quality auditor, as well as their time that is saved. Between 30% and 50% of an audit is spent looking at a screen in a conference room, looking at documents which could easily become a regularly remote segment. In a 5 day audit, this is over 1 day, which saves hotel costs if the quality auditor is having to stay over or travel costs if they’re commuting each day.
I expect that the governing bodies will come up with remote auditing guidelines for post-covid in the months to come.
Find out more and contact Rafe through his profile here.