Fundamentals of Layered Process Audits

Joe Goodwin

Fundamentals of Layered Process Audits

Layered Process Audits (LPAs) involve routine inspections by various management levels, each responsible for auditing critical aspects within their control. These audits can be conducted daily, weekly, or monthly, becoming more strategic at higher management levels. Process layered audits ensure adherence to processes, identify non-conformances, and promote continuous improvement.

  • Multiple Management Levels: Supervisors conduct daily audits focusing on on-site observations and proper process implementation. Engineers handle weekly checks, while middle management performs more strategic monthly audits.
  • Customizable Frequency: Depending on process complexity and criticality, audit intervals can be adjusted, ensuring comprehensive coverage and real-time monitoring.
  • Focus Areas: LPAs concentrate on critical processes and CTQ (Critical to Quality) elements, ensuring prompt identification and resolution of non-conformance issues. Auditing different layers provides insights from various perspectives, contributing to a holistic understanding of process health.

Steps to Implement LPAs

Implementing LPAs involves several steps. First, assemble a team of key stakeholders to define the scope and critical processes to be audited. Next, create customized checklists tailored to each critical process. Schedule the audits and arrange for multiple layers of auditors. Proper training for the team and establishing escalation procedures for detected issues are also crucial.

  • Assembling a Team: Includes cross-functional teams from various levels of the organization, ensuring a broad perspective on processes.
  • Custom Checklists: Tailored checklists make each audit relevant and focused, covering essential process aspects.
  • Scheduling Audits: Plan audit frequencies using tools like a Gantt chart or other project schedule tools for clarity.
  • Training Requirements: Auditors and team members must be trained to understand audit procedures, criteria, and objectives.
  • Conducting the Audit: Regularly execute audits according to the scheduled plan, with consistent findings documentation.
  • Feedback Loop: A systematic approach to documenting findings and corrective actions ensures continuous improvement.

Best Practices for Effective LPAs

For effective LPAs, follow best practices such as inclusive engagement, focus on prevention, and standardization. Involve three management layers: supervisors for daily audits, engineers for weekly checks, and managers for monthly audits.

  • Inclusive Engagement: Involve frontline workers and supervisors in the audit process to capture on-site observations and ensure proper process implementation.
  • Focus on Prevention: Identify potential issues before they escalate into major problems.
  • Standardization: Use standardized audit procedures and digital checklists to maintain consistency. Adopting the CQI-8 layered process audit guideline is beneficial.
  • Audit Software: Use LPA software tools like GoAudits to enhance real-time data collection, reporting, and overall execution ease.

Benefits of Layered Process Audits

The benefits of Layered Process Audits are multi-faceted. They ensure consistent process implementation across organizational levels, reduce product variation, and enhance customer satisfaction.

  • Process Adherence: Ensures processes are consistently followed across different shifts and teams, minimizing variations.
  • Risk Reduction: Mitigates risks such as safety incidents, production slowdowns, and regulatory citations by identifying issues early.
  • Continuous Improvement: LPAs foster a culture of accountability and continuous improvement by decentralizing audits and involving multiple layers of auditors.
  • Enhanced Visibility: Offers comprehensive coverage and increased visibility into operations, aiding strategic decision-making.

The Path to Continuous Improvement

Layered Process Audits (LPAs) are vital for maintaining high quality and operational excellence. By adopting a structured approach involving multiple layers of management, LPAs ensure process adherence and continuous improvements. Proper implementation and adherence to best practices can enhance the benefits of these audits, leading to improved quality, efficiency, and overall organizational performance.

Joe Goodwin