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7 tips for stress-free audits & optimal manufacturing performance

The auditors were very satisfied; they called this (our quality management) best practices and an example in the industry.’ If this sounds like your situation, congratulations, your quality management is mature, and audits have become business as usual. For many manufacturers, however, planning and hosting audits can be a stressful experience: all data needs to be well-recorded, processes need to be up-to-date, people need to be in synch while operations need to comply with industry standards and regulations.

Failing an audit can be very costly. But also preparing for one can paralyze at least part of your organization.

Ensuring quality, pushing for improvement

As thorough as they are, audits assess and validate quality management while pushing for continuous improvement. They can evaluate products, processes, suppliers, or environmental and social preparedness. Successful audits involve a big team effort – yet, failing these tests often reflects badly on quality teams.

Audits bring imperfections to light. Whether these are major or minor findings, they provide great input for further improvement. There are multiple ways to prepare for audits. In this article, we’ll share 7 tips for stress-free audits and optimal manufacturing performance.

7 tips to pass audits and even get praised

1. Make quality your top priority – True quality is the result of well-understood, well-controlled and well-measured processes – something that cannot be achieved if quality teams are working in isolation. Making quality an organization-wide goal will improve profitability and ensure audit compliance.

2. Implement a QMS – No matter the type of audit, these always involve accurate and ample documentation. For manufacturers with a wide range of products and just as many suppliers, it can be a struggle to keep things organized. Most factories still rely on outdated systems and gray, old-school cabinets for filing their paperwork.

A Quality Management System (QMS) can solve the pain of fragmented and disorganized documentation. Implementing a QMS, you’ll get a tighter grip on quality with clear overviews and comprehensive QA reports. This will prevent common quality issues and guarantee good discipline during audits.

3. Have an audit trail for everything – To always be audit-ready, manufacturers need to ensure that their data is up-to-date, transparent, and easily traceable. This way, they can better monitor processes, track changes, and quickly pinpoint deviations.

4. Make data available to everyone in the organization – Even complete and organized data doesn’t help if it’s not made available to the ones who need it. Making data accessible will improve communication, speed up responses to non-conformities, and help promote quality as an organization-wide effort.

5. Minimize the risk of error – Using outdated systems and inadequate quality policies go hand-in-hand with human error and other risks. Keeping things structured and ensuring that staff is well trained and motivated is very important not only for passing audits but also to maximize efficiency within the organization.

6. Look for the improvement loop – Throughout their assessments, auditors want to see consistency, effectiveness, and quality products according to set requirements. However, to pass audits with flying colors, manufacturers need to undertake continuous improvement. Whether this is achieved by reducing waste, managing time, monitoring metrics, etc., keep in mind that there is always room for improvement.

7. Stay compliant, adhere to regulations – All manufacturing companies must comply with some standards, either enforced by regulations from governments, industry directives, or imposed by their customers. Audits validate whether organizations operate according to these standards.

AlisQI: how technology can relieve the burden of auditing

The user-friendly QMS from AlisQI can help tremendously with audits. You’ll enjoy a smart, automated system that analyzes data, spots anything outside the specs, and sends notifications about the smallest shifts in quality. With omnipresence as one of its goals, the platform engages its users and allows for clear communication and sharing of information. Working with a system that can turn data into insights, it’s also much easier to look for areas of improvement, ensure compliance and stability.

We strongly believe that technology can relieve the burden of auditing. Hearing about our customers’ experience is strong proof of this:

‘Audits are now much easier. AlisQI gives us the open actions in a clear overview. We can easily see if there are repetitive patterns in our data collections.’ Ruud Nijlant, Site Manager, Diversey

‘Auditors are always looking for the improvement loop. It has to be there. We’ve drawn everything out in AlisQI. If we now walk through the management system with the auditor, we can simply show the process flow on the screen. You can see what is connected and what belongs together. This gives you immediate insight, so less stress during the audit.’ Susanne Haaijer, Quality Assurance Manager, Delamine B.V

‘(Within AlisQI) there is an audit trail for everything, including your spec history, so you can identify exactly when something was changed, and by whom.’ Wendy Beks, Laboratory Manager, Berry Global

‘With AlisQI, factory floor operators can access a lot more information than is usual in other systems. You can link your download screens to the process and procedures in your Document Management System. It’s that simple. And, in this way, you can create really useful instructions when you’re completing your control forms.’ Geert Segers, QHSE Manager, Lamers HTS

Audits may be stressful right now. However, following these 7-tips and using the right platform helps tremendously in always being prepared. AlisQI can give your quality management a boost so that you easily navigate auditing challenges. After all, audits are nothing more than an opportunity for continuous improvement.