Compliance on the Brain


My parents pointed out that I have been a little quiet on the blog front.  Well there is a reason for that … and no, it’s not some executive order.

All this week, I have been on what is officially my first week of travel for my new job.  It’s a massive, long distance 40 miles down the road from Burbank – specifically in Anaheim, CA.  Before you get all excited about the possibilities that may come with a vacation-esq week close to the home Mick and Doofy Moose, or see if I can spot a Mighty Duck … don’t be.  I am here for a week’s worth of training.  Specifically, Lead Auditor Training on AS 9100 Rev. D.

Sound exciting?

Well.  Let me go way more into detail, then I will ask again.

Let me frame it out like this.  My job with JPL, as was my job with BP in Alaska, as was my job for most the time I was with Cessna in Wichita; is a supplier quality auditor.  That means, I am to go out to companies that do work for us (either through contracts or other procurement activity) and make sure they are doing their job right.  In a way, you can compare that to an IRS auditor or other types of Financial auditor, but they tend to split hairs on data.  Quality auditors are more about identifying the situations where issues may occur so that the risk can be assessed and corrections can drive towards improvement.

Now let me restate that in a way that doesn’t sound suffocating … I look at folks to tell them how they can get better so we get better stuff from them.

So you maybe asking yourself why I need training if I did this before.  NOW we get to the boring.

Basically, anytime you meet someone who is a part of an auditing function needs to have a basis to start from.  IRS has tax laws.  Health Inspectors have codes.  Stuff like that.  For most of manufacturing throughout the world, the fundamental code that is used is a standard called ISO 9001.  You may have even see it listed on random stuff or business as you drive down the street.  ISO 9001 is a brilliant standard in that in about 30 pages it outlines all the key functions of a good manufacturer down to the key areas that they should control for good quality product – but does so in a way that is applicable to any company that does anything.

That being said – certain industries say “that’s all good … but we have some other stuff that would be good too.”  Medical devices, automotive, food services, test houses; they all have their own standard.  So Aerospace said, we need one too.  Enter AS9100.  Now, Aerospace was at least smart enough to figure out ISO 9001 is a good starting point – so they didn’t throw out ISO 9001, just add stuff to it to make AS 9100.  Now I’ve worked with AS 9100 since 2005, so it’s not new to me.  But a year & a half ago, ISO 9001 issued a major revision.  Because AS 9100 is an ‘additional too’, it revised as well last year to Revision D.  So — my training is keyed on the new revision.  It also will classify me (at least in the eyes of the industry) as a “Lead Auditor” … meaning, I am more important than the rest of you.

This training, though, is pretty grueling.  It’s 40 hours shoved into 4-1/2 days.  Early mornings, late afternoons, and occasional homework.  There is lectures, role playing, activities, and tomorrow we wrap it all up with a two hour test.  I’ve spent so much of the last four days in this standard, I have compliance on the brain.  I’ve questioned my intentions, followed conformance trails, and asked more interview questions on things that aren’t real than anyone should have to in a week.

But it all wraps up tomorrow.

Then the weekend comes.


At least I think the weekend will come by then … I haven’t seen the objective evidence to substantiate the statement of fact given to me by the manager of weekends.  So I will need to see that by the end of the audit, or any other retained documented information address both the plan for (and the effectiveness of) said days off.  If you have competency records (i.e. retained documented information on training) I will need to see that or the maintained documented information on the means to plan said competency.  If not, walk me through your process on improvement, specific to the measurements used and the awareness of your organizations’ impact on product safety.

Or something like that …

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