The perils of audits

secret engineer

Our anonymous blogger reflects on a career spent dodging the auditor’s bullets 

We have a quality audit lined up for a month or two’s time, something that I don’t particularly fear but which has brought to mind similar occasions from the past. I was fortunate in starting my professional career working for a company in the aerospace sector, one that was really very good with regard to this sort of stuff. Coupled to my own inherent bias for “doing things the right way” rather than “doing things any way you can get away with then trying to tidy it up if you have to”, it has provided me a with solid basis for generally dodging the auditor’s bullets.

Of course, once I’d ventured out into the wider engineering world it soon became apparent that not everyone worked the same way. The greatest application of deviousness I personally witnessed involved an untidy pile of drawings and scale models that “needed to be stored out of sight before a planned visit” coupled with a 1 foot high mezzanine floor under the drawing office originally intended to hide various services.  Legend had it that some documents of serious significant historical value had rolled off into the darkest recesses under there, and still languished awaiting rediscovery at some unspecified point in the future.

Now that we are moving away from the retention of physical data entirely the process of control and deception are both easier. In addition, without any meaningful limit on the data that can be held there is no decision making process regarding the jettisoning of out of date information.

How many of us have seen skips full of drawings, reports, wiring schedules and so on in the past? Conversely, how often have we struggled to find room to store something “just in case?” Surely these are regular exercises that will soon be entirely banished to the history books. Still, without the need to find room for printed documents, and the associated need to have those visible traceable, there is no longer a rush to fill every stationary cupboard or desk drawer with random documentation once every couple of years or so.

As master of my own destiny at Sleepy Hollow Electronics Ltd, I’m happy that I am ready for the upcoming audit. My introduction to the correct systems early on has made sure of that. However there are a few files I’ve generated that aren’t really controlled – and which don’t seem to have a natural home on the computer network. I might just create a new folder named “Mezzanine” to put them in.