How to Think Like an Auditor

On Friday I was audited

If you live in a corporate world you will be familiar with the sensation.  I’d like to say I felt warm all over, but I would be lying (lying through my teeth).

I was put through a “process audit” by an auditor in his mid 20’s, 6 foot 2 inches, white teeth, blue suit, shiny shoes and a self-satisfied attitude.  Your average nightmare.

As he walked into my office I started to bristle, he got out his iPad (I ask you) so he could take notes of our conversation.

Then the inquisition began…

How do you know what your customers want?

  • Do you understand your customers requirements?
  • Do you have an agreed specification?
  • When did you last talk to your customers and check the agreement still holds?

How do you deliver that consistently?

How do staff know what to do?

What measures do you have in place?

What are the risks?

  • Do you know what could go wrong?
  • Do you know how bad it would be?
  • Are your risks documented?

What are the controls?

It was like facing a human machine gun.  After an hour-long interrogation he left.  Smiling to himself.

The worst bit?

He did keep repeating the phrase “show me” (which caused some angst) but that wasn’t it.

It was the fact that his questions were really quite good.  If I answered them all correctly, I really would have shown him I understood exactly what was going on.

I get the feedback next week…

Enjoy this post?  Sign up for regular updates by e-mail


Read another opinion

Image by Butte-Silver Bow Public Library


  1. Hello James

    I sometimes think that the real value that I create as a consultant or performance coach is to ask these kind of simple/obvious questions and thus call my client to reflect upon them / grapple with them. The clients that do this wholeheartedy tend to be surprised by what is unconcealed in earnestly grappling with these questions.

    Why are these questions valuable? Because we live in action oriented cultures where thinking skills are not taughted and reflection is not valued. As such almost everyone is busy doing, turning the handles, following the well trodden path and producing what needs to be produced.


  2. Hi James,
    Great set of questions. I’ll look forward to hearing the feedback you get.

    I’m going to take a note of the Qs and file them away as a secret weapon


Speak Your Mind