Look Fors – Part 1: Context of the Organization

Research

What are 3rd party auditors looking for?  This is the first of a three part series by Jim Lee, President of simpleQuE

Clause 4 of Annex SL – Context of the Organization

This is the cornerstone of a management system and the business’ strategic direction.  An organization needs to identify internal and external issues that can impact its intended outcomes, as well as all interested parties and their requirements.  It needs to document its scope and set the boundaries of the management system to line up with business objectives.

The context doesn’t have to be documented, so 3rd party auditors (as well as internal auditors) will be asking questions of various management members, and looking for these as objective evidence that an organization understands its context and considers all the factors and stakeholders affecting the business.  The items listed below don’t have to exist, but if they do, you want to take credit for them in understanding the context.  Some items may not by themselves demonstrate an understanding of the context, but combined with multiple examples, can provide the evidence an auditor is looking for.

  • Business plan
  • Strategic plan
  • SWOT analysis (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats)
  • Vision and mission statement
  • Process mapping
  • External parties identified
  • Lesson learned
  • Surveys
  • Internal meeting minutes to determine company goal setting
  • Metrics to measure effectiveness of QMS
  • Process turtle diagrams
  • Process flow plans
  • Quality manual

Not that all of the elements listed above will be needed, but organizations may risk failure if they do not:

  • Identify or understand their primary competitors
  • Mention civic responsibility
  • Consider future business trends
  • Identify all customer requirements
  • Identify local/state/national requirements
  • Identify required outputs needed for internal customers
  • Identify uncertainties like negative risks or positive opportunities
  • Determine the processes used to flow the business from quote to delivery
  • Identify outsources processes
  • Establish process goals

 

Coming in future articles – what auditors are looking for in regard to Leadership and Risk.

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