Changes in structure and conceptual underpinnings of ISO 9001 mean that quality management system (QMS) auditors require a wide knowledge base and skill set to effectively evaluate contemporary QMS and add value to the process. Hence, this study presents an open curriculum framework of the knowledge, skills and attributes for quality auditor education.
This study describes the first two phases of a three-phase study examining the educational requirements for external quality auditors (EQAs). Phase 1 involved a review of relevant international literature on auditor competence and education; Phase 2 involved the collection of qualitative data from a panel of experts, combined with the initial round of a Delphi study. A thematic analysis was used to analyze the findings from the questionnaire.
The findings of this study suggests there is a need to improve EQAs education, as most experts reported the quality of audit to be variable, inconsistent, poor and diminishing in value. The most important improvements to auditor education are to update and improve the auditors' knowledge on the requirements of the ISO 9001 standard and technology in business and skills such as report writing, communication, IT understanding and analytical ability. Some of the attributes reported as being desirable to instill in EQAs include the following: objectivity, integrity, ethics and professionalism; being observant, perceptive, articulate and confident; having good judgment; flexibility, adaptivity and diplomacy, fairness and open-mindedness.
This study highlights the need for wider EQA education based on the gap identified in its performance. The resulting framework can be adopted by accreditation and certification bodies to evaluate and improve their auditors' audit performance.
The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of JAS-ANZ (The Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand) in conducting this research project.
Ab Wahid, R. and Grigg, N.P. (2020), "A draft framework for quality management system auditor education: findings from the initial stage of a Delphi study", The TQM Journal, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/TQM-08-2020-0193
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