Home Resources Blog January 2017

60 Seconds with Alan Flood

17 January 2017

This month’s 60 seconds is with an NQA Assessor Alan Flood, who tells us all about his most memorable moment auditing, when he had to climb to the top of a crane, to audit a team of rope access corrosion inspectors.


I have been auditing ISO 9001 for over 20 years, including the PAS-43 scheme and various Highways Sector schemes.  I recently completed training in ISO 14001 auditing and I’m now gaining experience as a team member on environmental management system audits.


I’m not great with heights so anything to do with climbing ladders is memorable for me.  I once had to climb to the top of a crane to audit a team of rope access corrosion inspectors.  I was clinging on for dear life while they were swinging happily from the top of the structure! 
Seriously though, I have been auditing for 20 years and the real memorable moments come from the people and places I have visited in that time.  It’s been a real pleasure to watch our clients’ businesses grow and prosper over the years. 


There tend to be two drivers for companies who choose to go for certification.  The first is to gain access to new customers and new markets which demand certification in the supply chain.  The second is to gain greater control over the business, to use the tools within ISO 9001 to drive the business forward.  Ideally these go hand in hand and when they do businesses can really reap the rewards. 
Of course ISO 9001 is only a tool and it doesn’t remove the need to manage the business effectively, but I know of one client I first visited 20 years ago on a run-down industrial estate who now operate out of a purpose built HQ on their own trading estate and who have grown to be a truly national UK business.  Not too shabby!


Use your system as a tool to drive your business forward.  A management system shouldn’t be a series of hoops your business has to jump through; nor should it be an extra layer of administration which slows your operation down.  Your management system will help you monitor performance and drive improvement – especially with the new ISO 9001:2015 standard – but only if you use those tools effectively.  Don’t pay lip service to a Management System, use it!


Not having an effective non-conformance/corrective action system in place.  It is surprising how many companies will tell an auditor that there have been no non-conformances reported in the previous year – no issues, no problems, no complaints, really?
If problems are reported as they occur then they can be investigated.  A thorough investigation will identify the root cause of the problem.  Implementing corrective action will eliminate the cause and prevent recurrence.  Effectively, every problem identified will drive an improvement in your business.
For a non-conformance reporting system to operate effectively there needs to be a shift away from ‘blame culture’ (otherwise there is no incentive for anyone to report a problem) whilst still encouraging individuals to take responsibility for their own mistakes.  Sometimes this is easier said than done but it is well worth the effort in the long run.
This used to be an issue I saw quite frequently – I’m pleased to say it is a lot less prevalent these days but it is still a big problem when it arises.