|Don't fear the auditor! Instead, become one! Auditing can
lead to a variety of career paths in an organization.
It is a bit of a mystery to me that more is not made of the personal career advantages and knowledge gained from performing procedural assessments, audits and other quality management related functions. For me personally, this type of activity has been one of the key factors in my career progression and advancement.
Procedural and functional assessments of supplier, manufacturing, repair/overhaul facilities, corporate head offices, or internal departments and satellite operations are a knowledge gold mine for acquiring priceless insights on the mechanics of business and management processes.
What are the career benefits of quality management?
Let’s take a look at this from an academic viewpoint for a moment. While enrolled in a university or college business program or studying towards an MBA, you were provided the opportunity to perform a detailed evaluation on an established organization from within, have one on one interaction with and ask predetermined, pointed questions of people in key positions regarding process development, implementation and monitoring.
Do you feel this would be a valuable learning experience? Of course! Anyone who is keen to gaining real world insight in this area would jump at the chance! This is exactly the kind of access and learning potential that is available when performing quality audits and assessments.
I am by no means trained, or experienced in the discipline of business finance and accounting or human resources, for example, but through the performance of corporate QMS (Quality Management System) procedural audits, I now have a general, yet firm, understanding of these vital corporate functions, and how they are managed, both on a project, and corporate level.
How industry is evolving and the advantages it offers
I realize that not every Auditor, or person involved in quality related activities, has the opportunity to assess all functions of a corporation, and the scope of involvement depends highly on the level of integration a company chooses to include in its QMS.
But there are extensive learning opportunities in every assessment, regardless of the scope, whether you are performing an assessment of a product assembly line or breaking down the procedures that make up a corporate risk management process.
Many industries and organizations are now realizing the advantages of seamless integration of all related components of a business into one coherent system. Integrated Management Systems are combining such functions as quality, safety, risk management, finance, human resources, etc. Placing the same emphasis on process development, and assessment throughout the organization, and corporate disciplines. This allows greater access to varied corporate functions for auditors, and quality personnel, increasing the personal career development value.
Important ethics, and legalities to consider
Now, of course, it goes without saying that there are ethical and legal responsibilities to consider here, and also the integrity of the audit process. The trust, and respect of the organization being assessed must be maintained at all times.
All specifics regarding corporate and tactical business processes and proprietary information are to be kept in strict confidence and not to be duplicated, or shared in any way, shape, or form.
That being said, one cannot help but grow professionally from the exposure to this type of environment, and the general knowledge and experience it provides.
Who can benefit from quality management?
You do not have to be a full time quality management professional or certified Lead Auditor to reap such benefits. By adding quality to your existing skill set with initial internal audit training, or volunteering to participate in the company audit process as an observer, would not only allow you to take advantage of a valuable learning opportunity, but also increase your professional resume and marketability.
There is added benefit to the company as well, if management were to encourage participation of personnel in quality activities. It can go a long way to promoting a quality culture within the organization both with management and personnel. Informed and involved employees are much better equipped to perform at higher levels.
Have you ever participated in a quality, or procedural audit? What career lessons did you learn as a result?
Greg Peckford (@gregpeckford) is a corporate quality management professional, and certified quality auditor, with over 18 years’ experience in areas of aviation, oil and energy, and construction management. He is also founder of Quality Career Advancement, a blog dedicated to helping people leverage existing skills, and elevate their careers, through the use of quality management.