Auditing is a great tool for any business improvement professional. It is also a tool that is often left as a ‘thing that Quality Managers do’. A quick impromptu audit, however, is a great way to identify improvements and doesn’t have to be tied to your business management system.
When I developed the StreamLiner software tool with my colleague Robert Broughton, auditing was the first element that we developed. We both knew that picking an area of a business, drawing up a checklist of ‘what good looks like‘ and walking the area can provide immediate benefit.
If the area is meeting expectations you get the opportunity to congratulate the associated teams.
If the area isn’t meeting expectations then a few different opportunities present themselves:
- You can find out if the standards and expectations are clear to those in the working area. If they aren’t, you can deploy them.
- If the standards are clear, and present, then you can determine if there is a training shortfall. If there is a shortfall, you can fill it.
- If the standards are clear, and training has been provided, then there could be a coaching / performance discussion to be had.
Whatever the outcome from your audit, your business gets the opportunity to improve. I had the pleasure of visiting a factory for a progress update (or, audit) just the other week; progress was visible and the team are doing a great job. As well as being able to tell the team that they have done a great job, a number of other opportunities for improvement presented themselves. We discussed these items before I left and agreed some new improvement objectives.
Drawing up an audit really can be as simple as writing a list of the things you want to / expect to see in your business and taking a walk. When we are busy in to the day-to-day running of our teams it can be hard to see improvements when you are only looking. Audits help you see.
Enjoy your walk!