By Sr. BRC Consultant Michael Haycock
About 2 years ago a bus out of Montreal crashed, flipped on its side and a number of people were killed and injured.
July 2013, a Boeing 777 crashed while landing at the San Francisco airport with 2 fatalities.
A couple of months ago a Korean ferry sank with hundreds of lives lost.
They are related – because – “they never should have happened.” Without sounding too harsh the people with direct responsibility were not “competent”. Competency is based on education, training, skills and experience – and the application of that education, training, skills and experience.
In the case of the bus driver, he did not have the proper class of licence to be driving a bus. He could have been a wonderful bus driver but part of competency is evidence of the skills and training the person has – the licence. It is not actually difficult to understand how this would happen. With the licence being requested and a promise given to provide it at a later date – which everyone forgot about. With the proper licence – a tragic event. Without the proper licence – a tragic and potentially criminal event – with millions of dollars in repercussions.
The Asiana 777 crashed just short of the runway in San Francisco. The co-pilot had been flying the 777 just a short time and his first flight into San Francisco. In this case, competency might be with proper supervision – which means with as much as there is going on in a modern aircraft the pilot should have been clearly monitoring the co-pilot while clearly NOT ignoring the other aircraft indicators indicating the closeness to the ground and airspeed.
It would also seem some of the disaster response people either were not following policy or were not competent as demonstrated by their ability twice to drive over one of the Chinese students ejected from the aircraft. She actually managed to survive the ejection but not the fire trucks.
The Korean ferry – normal chain of command is Captain, Executive Officer (#2) and from there. At the time of the ferry’s collision with rocks, reef whatever – number 3 was driving the boat (apologies to you navy folks). The captain was in his cabin. Now number 3 was young (26) and could have been very skilled at what she was doing but interviews of a number of experienced captains said they would never have left her alone to navigate this tricky section of water. In fact even a number of these very experienced captains indicated they would have had other officers supporting them on the bridge. And with all that was going on, “WHO” could possibly imagine telling passengers to stay below, over the ships speakers – while the ship is capsizing. This was not just incompetent – this was criminal.
The point to this is that competency comes from a variety of skills and abilities – and even then a licence was necessary to legally confirm that those skills and abilities have been certified. There is also a point to this that competency may be situational. While legitimately someone may be able to carry out a function – practically it may mean the organization considers not just what is required – but what is necessary. There is a difference.
I will use this article as a means to clear up some questions I have had about auditors and qualification vs. certification. No standards ask for certification for internal auditors. Check 8.2.2 internal auditing. This would include AS9100C, TS16949, ISO 13485, and others.
The auditor is always expected to be qualified or competent, but never certified. While it is possible there are additional industry specific requirements directed by the customer – I am actually not aware of any.
Now external auditors – that is different. The first step in becoming certified is taking an accredited course (for example – RAB approved). If you complete the course and pass the exam you may apply for certification. This can be a long process. Unless you actually work for a Registrar, the certification process is particularly difficult. (You typically had to have a certified Lead auditor to observe and sign off the audits you conduct.) RAB, which is now Exemplar, has developed a number of “schemes” so some of this may have changed a bit.
I have been certified since 1991. The constant is every year I send RAB money and every third year I have to send in audit log sheets. There are a certain number of additional requirements for professional development. Certification is not a single event – it is an ongoing process. I have a RAB document for certification that is updated every three years. (Now Exemplar – not sure how that is going to look.)
There is a Certified Internal Auditor program that has been offered. It always seemed to me that if you were inclined to take a Certified Internal Auditor course (3 days) then you were better to go ahead and take the Lead Auditor course (5 days) – then you qualified not only to do audits but to lead them.
In my opinion, a 2 day Internal Auditor course gives Internal auditors all the instruction they need. (Then they need to get some practical “hands on”.) If you are in fact a team leader and have responsibilities for a large team or a set of Internal audits – take the lead auditor course – as this typically has a greater focus on administrative activities including managing the team, meetings, making final determination on audit outcomes and audit reports.
Your organization is registered (or certified) by a Registrar. The Registrar is typically accredited by an Accreditation Body. By being registered or certified the organization is demonstrating its “competency” to manage a system under which your products or services are to be provided. Competency should give us confidence. Registration is never a one time thing. While you only have to be registered once – the ongoing registration process includes at least annual surveillance audits and typically at the end of the 3rd year there is re-registration and the process continues. Registration is the equivalent of competency for the organization. NOT perfection. Competency.
Our intent with this article was to point out that competency is often considered a one time thing or we even take for granted – at our peril. I am someone who – after finishing the basement – realized the house was worth less than when I started. I will never be competent with a skill saw.
Our lion and antelope – perhaps ability not competency. If one or the other is not running in the morning – one will be hungry, or one will be lunch.