Duncan McCulloch, the Operations Facilitator and Internal Auditor for Nicholsons Group, and Bywater Tutor Mel Horne explain the value of getting up to speed with an in-house IATF 16949:2016 Transition Auditor Training course.

Why did Nicholsons need this course?

Duncan: At Nicholsons we have 140 employees making metallic seals and components for the aerospace and automotive industries. We conducted a gap analysis of our team’s skills and knowledge, which showed we needed to get all of our internal auditors on the same page for the latest standard.

Mel: Transition to the new standard was extremely important for Nicholsons. The new standard incorporates requirements from ISO 9001:2015, as well as additional requirements for the automotive industry. The nature of this global supply chains means it’s critical that when you are assembling components from around the world that they are compatible.

More companies are realising their staff are valuable assets and that it’s just as important to update your people as it is your computer’s operating system.

What makes this course unique?

Mel: The automotive industry is such a pan-global enterprise and it’s becoming clearer in its requirements (whereas ISO 9001 is becoming more flexible in its approach). This transition course is designed for people with auditing experience and a basic understanding of the standard, offering them the chance to dig deeper and maximise the return for their organisation. Nicholsons demonstrated an investment in its staff through this course.

How did this course help improve results for Nicholsons and its customers?

Duncan: Mel looked at how we were doing things compared to the latest standard, which allowed us to properly review our processes. She was excellent at showing us how to apply the standard in practice. We discovered there were certain requirements within the standard which we were not addressing as vigorously as others. We were able to take swift action to ensure we took a thorough approach to the requirements, giving our customers confidence in our service.

We now have an audit team that is up to date on the latest standard and best practice. Going forward, all of our audits will be to the new standard. Practice makes perfect and it will be a learning curve but thanks to the training we’re now in the process of bedding it in.

How was the course set up to get the best from the group?

Duncan: There were 12 people who needed the training so it felt easier for us to book an in-house course. The key for us was that everybody got the same training at the same time. All of our internal auditors were there, as well as our quality manager, and everybody had to be on the same page at the end of the course, with updated knowledge and understanding in terms of best practice. We kept the door closed to avoid distractions but we could also go and find materials and documents in the office to support the training.

Mel: For me, one of the benefits of an in-house course is it allows you to go down any avenue that the delegates care about. There is a real benefit to sitting down as a team and getting all the ‘do-ers’ together to share ideas and knowledge.

The transition course allows auditors to come together and have a peer-to-peer discussion to brush up on their thinking. Auditors can become very isolated and people are often so busy in their day job they don’t have the time to think. This course offers an opportunity for guided discussions around what’s troubling them and how to ensure their transition to the new standard is smooth.

This approach we take means they can prepare confidently for a third-party audit. It helps build their confidence by making sure they understand the requirements of the standard and can communicate these to management.

Nicholsons Group