The following article has been written by John Price of The VET Gurus and posted here on his behalf.
Hockee Lee was the International Quality Manager for a large American Packaging company with manufacturing sites in five of Australia’s States and Territories. I assisted him to establish their Quality Assurance System to the ISO 9001 standards in the early 1990s. Throughout that journey he would continually remind me that the Internal Audit component of the ISO system provided the ‘Keys to the Treasure Chest’ in detecting opportunities for improvement in the quality of their products and their operational systems saving them literally thousands of dollars per month.
This isn’t something unique to ISO 9001 standards as all internal audit systems when implemented successfully provide this opportunity.
The benefits of internal auditing are associated with two very simple concepts – 1. restoring a ‘new status quo’, and 2. having a philosophy that things might not be broken can still be fixed (improved).
Let’s have a look at both of these concepts and consider how they can be used by progressive RTOs.
Restoring a ‘new status quo’ (one that didn’t exist!) isn’t about being conservative and conventional but rather the opposite in a controlled and disciplined way. Many RTOs experience a range of changes often happening at the same time that have the positive potential to be innovative, creative and problem solving.
These changes can include changes in management, trainers and assessors, scope, location, technology, legislation, clients and so on. Every one of these changes can take the RTO off in a tangent to what was the norm. Effectively what was compliant may not now be compliant but for very good reasons.
Undertaking an internal audit at regular intervals will detect the outcomes of these tangential moves and identify the types of controls that can be implemented to restore a more progressive and ‘new status quo’.
Why don’t we use an internal audit system to report appreciative enquiries more often than we do? Because often the conventional approach to audit is to discover non-compliances and “what’s appreciative about that?”. We should remind each other of the number of occasions when the internal audit has identified effective controls in place. We should then go on to remind ourselves of the number of occasions when we didn’t say to the auditee – “It’s not broke so how can we fix it?”, and through their response discover the ‘Keys to the Treasure Chest’.