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Richard Ruiz


Seven LPA Mistakes to Fix Before Your Next Customer Audit Checklist

The best time to plant a tree...

Published: Tuesday, April 16, 2019 - 12:02

When a customer asks to see your layered process audit (LPA) documentation, will you be ready? For many manufacturers, the answer is no.

Instead of having proof of an effective audit process, many companies are left scrambling for data that show low audit compliance and few actual results. Unfortunately, poor audit processes are enough to fail a customer audit, which could put your key contracts at risk.

Make sure this doesn’t happen to you by taking a deeper look at your auditing practices from the customer’s perspective. To help you get there, we’ve put together a checklist of seven critical LPA mistakes to fix before your customer knocks on your door.

1. Lack of management participation

One common problem with LPAs is low management participation. Plant managers and other layer-three auditors should conduct monthly audits. Quarterly audits simply aren’t enough, and send a clear signal that you don’t have the right commitment to LPAs.

2. Low audit completion rates

Compliance with scheduled audits is a major problem in many audit programs, particularly those that rely on paper-based or spreadsheet-based tracking.

Strategies for increasing audit completion rates:
• Get management on board to increase accountability
• Send email reminders to auditors that link to checklists
• Notify supervisors of missed audits

3. Inadequate reporting

If a customer asks to see your audit results, and your checklists are just stuffed in the back of a drawer, you’re going to have problems. Instead, you should compile and report on findings immediately, using Pareto charts to identify your most significant issues.

Want to save a copy of this checklist for personal/team use? (direct download, no form to fill out)

4. Poor follow-up

Customers want to see you taking action on nonconformances identified during audits. Make sure you:
• Record on-the-spot corrective actions during audits
• Assign corrective actions during or immediately after audits
• Link action plans to failed items for closed-loop tracking

5. Not addressing previous problems

During an audit, a customer may ask how your LPA program addresses previous quality problems. Best practices call for periodically adding questions based on:
• Customer complaints
• Internal defects
• Process failure mode and effects analysis (PFMEA) reports
• Warranty issues

6. Pencil-whipped data

When auditors are just rushing to “check the box” on audits, you can’t trust the resulting data. Improve audit integrity by:
• Randomizing questions within checklists
• Rotating items from your question library in your checklists
• Take a closer look at audits that are completed in a very short amount of time

7. Generic questions

Many manufacturers use the same checklist for every single work area, which tells customers you’re just going through the motions. Instead, each work area should have checklists customized to the specific process or procedure being verified.

How automating LPAs can help you pass your next customer audit

An automated LPA platform solves many common mistakes, helping you:
• Increase audit completion rates with email reminders
• Email links to online checklists that users can complete on a mobile device
• Record corrective actions and assign corrective actions during mobile audits
• Access LPA data instantly to spot trends and problems
• Customize checklists for each work area
• Rotate and randomize questions to improve data integrity
• Add new questions to your library to address emerging risks and verify that corrective actions are working

First published March 15, 2019, on the Beacon Quality blog.


About The Author

Richard Ruiz’s picture

Richard Ruiz

Richard Ruiz, Director of Technical Sales for Beacon Quality, helps manufacturers achieve their goals through automation and data analysis. Using best practices gleaned from consulting with hundreds of global top tier organizations across verticals, Richard enjoys listening, learning, and sharing ways to improve quality, safety, and environmental initiatives. Richard comes to Ease, Inc. as an industry recognized software solution developer working with many Fortune 100 companies and governmental agencies.