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Updated: Aug 18, 2021

Assessing standards and regulatory requirements on Companies or Organizations is called auditing. It is not a negative judgment tool as we have in our minds. Nobody likes to be criticized for their job. Because great effort lies behind all the work. The purpose of the audit is system continuous improvement in this evaluation. Gaps are not visible in the system when not evaluated from an independent side. In this context auditor behavior is core element for audit process.

Conformity assessment requirements for bodies certifying products, processes and services standard is ISO 17065, providing audit and certification of management systems standard is ISO 17021. Each has requirement for responsiveness to complaints and appeals for certification bodies. Guidelines for auditing management systems for internal and second part external audit are stated on the ISO 19011 standard. All include same auditor behavior requirements.

According to standards, Auditors should exhibit professional behavior during the performance of audit activities. Desired behaviors are ethics, diplomatic, observant, perceptive, adaptable, focused on achieving objectives, decisive, courage to get disagreement, open to improvement, respectful to the culture, collaborative with all interested parts and organized.

Some of these desired attitudes are risky to get complaints from auditee. Additionally, these are not always complaints. Appeals and complaints are different things on standards and reality.

Certification bodies and auditors know the difference of complaint and appeal. However, auditees may not know these terms well. For that reason, all appeals also spoken or transmitted from one to one as complaints.

Some of auditees may feel uncomfortable with correct audit and after audit they may write complaints to the certified bodies. If this situation cannot be managed according to standards on auditing authorities, "soft stuff" issues begin to be discussed.

The situations where the auditee is unhappy and does not want another audit may arise as follows:

1- If the auditor behaves very honestly and objectively reports non-conformities with all clarity.

2- If auditor cannot establish a relationship with the auditee as a result of time limitation of audit task and especially cannot leave time for spoken with auditee,

3- If the independence principle works fully and does not take side with auditee,

4- If the auditor acts not only with what the auditee has shown but also with his own examples. It can be said, "Auditor always looked at what she/he wanted, even if we showed it, she did not look it."

5- If the auditor cannot collect evidence and is not allowed to conduct an audit, the auditee may also say that he/ she did not want to do the audit.

The above issues are also the risks that arise when auditors do their job well. We can also use it as examples for risk and opportunity study on auditing process.

When auditors implement all principles well in place, if the complaint and appeal system does not work and if the two concepts are mixed together, the audit processes will not go ahead.

The certificates revealed after the audits will not reflect the truth either. Worst of all, if these companies, which have successfully passed the certificate audit, are audited correctly by the Customer, the trust in the certificate will fall. Then customer will no longer asked for a certificate from the supplier.

The GFSI approval mechanism, which aims to reduce many Customer audits, especially in GFSI approved standards, will also lose its reliability.

“SOFT STUFF” means that on paper, things may appear to be fine, but in practice reality is not the same.

Complaints and appeal system may be misused on sector for "soft stuff" auditing policy.

Written by 12.02.2020 Fatma AKKUŞ İnceoğlu

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