ISO Lead Auditor Training — Is it really not required?

There is a lot of confusion over lead auditor training.

The main reason you should consider a lead auditor class is that it’s the best ISO training that you can easily get. There simply isn’t any other type of ISO training that is publicly available that provides such in-depth coverage of the ISO subject matter.  You won’t be an expert at the end of it but your level of understanding will soar.  Accredited courses cover the standard in some detail (interpretation, application, auditing), discuss how to audit (and be audited — including planning, documentation review, scheduling auditing technique, writing and arguing findings and report writing) and how to address findings — corrective and preventive action.  During most courses there is discussion about consulting, good and bad auditing techniques and how to get through an audit (without actually cheating).  The exposure to the content, the opportunity to discuss your specific issues with experts, and to interact with like-minded attendees with different experiences, ideas and situations will make your ISO project go much more smoothly, will give you ideas to improve your existing ISO system and, of course, it will show you what needs to be done for a decent audit.  Yes you can cut corners but don’t expect the results if you don’t commit to the right level of training.

However, there is actually no requirement in ISO for anyone to go through lead auditor training.  An organization is merely required to conduct audits by competent auditors (and lead auditor training is a good way of getting there).  There is no requirement for any type of qualification in ISO.  Many organizations impose this “lead auditor” requirement by defining the training requirements for their auditors (they must pass a lead auditor class) and then giving this title to the main auditor (or auditors) in the organization.  If you take the course and pass you do have a certificate.  And its about lead auditing.  So surely you can call yourself a certified lead auditor?  Seems reasonable.  No argument here.

One major advantage of accredited lead auditor classes is that they are accredited.  This doesn’t mean that there aren’t bad courses out there.  We have all suffered death by powerpoint and lead auditor courses are notorious for it.  300+ slides and a huge role-playing case study throughout.  But accreditation means that essential curriculum is covered, and that controls are in place for its quality.  This is not true of unaccredited training classes where there is simply NO oversight.

Yes it is possible to design a better class without the restrictions of accreditation.  A better class would be customized to your company, use your documentation in exercises and perform an audit on your location.  But if you are one person looking for a public class, then accredited is the way to go.  What’s more is that organizations who provide accredited training are required to have management systems in place.  When they provide customized and unaccredited training (because it is possible to — after all, we provide customized unaccredited training) then that training is provided by an organization that understands how to deliver training effectively and has demonstrated that through accreditation.  Without accreditation you have nothing to fall back on if it’s not as you would expect.

When considering customized in-house training, training provided by an accredited training organization does have some assurances that non-accredited organizations don’t provide.  Ask how many slides the training course has.  Avoid the Powerpoint boredom.

Cavendish Scott is an IRCA accredited training organization and offers a public ISO 9001 Lead Auditor training class.  We have about 25 powerpoint slides — the rest is exercises, quizzes, role-play and a live audit.  This class is ideal for ISO project managers, ISO coordinators and people running an ISO system, people at the management level, and of course, ISO auditors.  We customize this course when we provide it on-site so that it is relevant and meaningful to the organizations management system.  We have presentations from in-house management, use the organization’s documentation in exercises, and we perform a witnessed audit on the organizations processes.  We can present versions with ISO 9001, ISO 13485, AS9100, ISO 14001, ISO 27001 and can customize combinations of different standards.

Click here for more information about Cavendish Scott training.