Would you let a customer observe an internal audit? ISO9001:2000

A few years ago I consulted with a small aircraft parts company that did big business with a major aerospace manufacturer. The huge customer required that their suppliers be ISO approved, and eventually required AS9100 certification.

The really strange thing I learned was that the huge customer asked if they could observe internal audits conducted by my client company. This seemed like a really horrible idea to me, for several reasons.

I can, in a way, understand why the customer asked this. I suspect there may have been trust issues, that is, the customer might have had a hard time believing my client company actually conformed to the ISO9001:2000 quality standard. The client company owner had previously been caught being less than truthful with the customer. There were times I was amazed the customer continued to purchase from the client company, but that’s another story.

Internal audits are intended to help you catch and correct problems at an early stage, before those problems reach your customer. Why would anyone allow a customer to observe their internal audit? Would you be 100 percent truthful and honest in your audit if you had an important customer watching the process??? Heck no! I wouldn’t want to risk making my company look bad in front of the customer.

Providing that customer with a summary might be OK, tho really that’s even a lot to ask. But to have the customer there with you, looking over your shoulder during the audit? I say you’ve got to be kidding to ask this.

If I ever run across this in the future, and the client company owner wants to go along with the customer request, I’d have no choice but to conduct TWO internal audits. The first one would be in private, and it would be the actual audit. The second one would be strictly for show purposes.

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One Response to “Would you let a customer observe an internal audit? ISO9001:2000”

  1. Ed Bones says:

    Interesting comment on the treatement of a customer. The only workable solution to the request is to prevent the customer viewing the internal audit, unless of course the contract allows this. Conducting two audits, the real and the fake will fool nobody. The assumption in the proposal is that the guy watching the audit for the customer doesnt know what he is doing. Does anyone really believe that?

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