Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Audit Mentality

One of the things I commiserated with my Beltway cousins about was the complete saturation of the modern workplace with The Audit Mentality.

Theory


My best understanding of audit theory is that minimum standards are set at the very highest levels.  Then, each level below that adds additional detail pertaining to the execution of those standards.

The very lowest level should have the most detail regarding the execution of each task along with multiple "checks" to ensure that all of the minimum standards are met with 100% certainty.

Each level then "audits" the level(s) below them to ensure that all of those multiple process checks are actually being done. 

The theory is that the auditors are actually auditing the auditors the level below them.  The intention is that the lower level auditors will be "recalibrated" by the higher level auditors.  It is intended to be a force multiplier because the lower level auditors will perform 20-to-50 audits on their own between recalibrations.

An Example


Tools wear out on the factory floor.  Product checks are made on a regular basis to ensure that minimum standards are met.  A check might show, for instance, that the widgifier no longer embosses a curflumpet of adequate height.  The protocols at the very lowest levels might dictate that every whooville produced since the last check be quarantined and the height of the curflumpet checked.  Further, serial numbers might need to be recorded and filed of product quarantined and reworked.

Additionally, the new widgifier will likely have a requalification procedure where all curflumpets are measured until the process statistically demonstrates it is capable of producing a quality product.

The forces of chaos and disorder never sleep.  Sometimes the widgifier pukes on a night when the line is running short-handed.  Sometimes the designated spare is nowhere to be found.  Sometimes an executive decision is made to find a similar widgifier, turn a few adjustment screws on-the-fly and to make it work.  No blood, no foul.  Right?

The Corporate auditor is walking down the aisle in the cool light of morning.  A swarm of plant personnel form a phalanx around him to fend off production people who are wont to speak plainly.  He is being led to a sanitized cell to "approve".  The Corp auditor stops and pivots to his right.  He points at a cell.  "We will audit that cell."  The plant people poop their pants.

The audit finds irregularities.

You can learn a lot by asking simple questions


I worked "off" shifts most of my last few years.  Mostly, I wanted to avoid needless aggravation.  Sometimes I would stumble across these auditors and have a chance to ask a few questions that were unfiltered by the Plant designated "keepers"...the phalanx.

I told that particular auditor that our keepers were in awe of his other-worldly ability to find the worst cell in the entire complex as if he were a heat seeking missile.

I asked him how he did that.


He looked at me as if that was not a question he was asked very often.  He must have been reassured by my grubby appearance and my beaten-down continence.

"Here is the deal.  I used to be a Skilled Tradesman before I was sucked into management.  Tradesmen have standards regarding "workmanship".  For example, electricians have standards regarding the number and spacing of  tie-downs  per run of wiring.  They also have standards regarding making straight runs of cable whenever possible to make the tracing of wiring easy.

When I am walking down an aisle and see an air tool that has hose that is either missing hangers or the hangers are uneven...I know that an unauthorized tool replacement occurred.  What are the odds that other irregularities will be in that cell after an unauthorized tool change?  About 100%, I would say."

That is the way audits are supposed to be.  Performed by people who have been there, done that.  People who cleaned up real messes on the production floor and know the pressures that people are under and the shortcuts they are most likely to take. 



---To be continued.---


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