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Posts Tagged ‘Training’

How to recruit, hire and train an auditor

In Internal Auditing, ISO 19011, Supplier Audit, Supplier Audits, Supplier Qualification, Training on December 24, 2012 at 11:44 pm

Part 3: Training

Passing a webinar on auditing does not make you competent.

Does your company ask incoming inspectors to update CAD drawings when there is a design change? Of course not. Your company has engineers that are trained to use SolidWorks, and it takes a new engineer a while to become proficient with the software. Auditing is a skill that you learn—just like SolidWorks.

My favorite holiday movie…I’ll be watching this later tonight!

I’ve never met a manager that wondered where the value was in having an engineer update a drawing, but many managers view internal and supplier audits as a necessary evil. Instead of asking the expert how few audit days you can get away with, ask the expert: “What is the purpose of auditing?”

The purpose of internal auditing is to confirm that the management system is effective and to identify opportunities for improvement. The purpose of supplier auditing is to confirm that a supplier is capable of meeting your needs and to identify opportunities for improvement. Therefore, if an auditor has no nonconformities and no opportunities for improvement were identified—what a waste of time!

To receive value from auditing, you need auditors that are competent. In clause 6.2.1 of the ISO 13485 Standard it says, “Personnel performing work affecting product quality shall be competent on the basis of appropriate education, training, skills and experience.” As the audit program manager, make sure you recruit people that demonstrate auditing competency.

Education

First, educational background is important for auditors. You cannot expect someone who has never taken a microbiology course in their life to be an effective auditor of sterilization validation. Likewise, someone that has never taken a course in electricity and magnetism will not be effective as an auditor for active implantable devices. Therefore, determine what types of processes the auditor will be auditing. Then make sure that the person you hire to be an auditor has the necessary education to understand the processes they will be auditing.

Training

Second, an auditor needs to be trained before they can audit. The auditor needs training in three different aspects: 1) the process they will be auditing, 2) the standard that is the basis for assessing conformity, and 3) auditing techniques. If you are going to be auditing printed circuit board (PCB) manufacturers with surface-mount technology (SMT), then you need to learn about the types of components used to make PCBs and how these components are soldered to a raw board. I know first-hand that anyone can learn how SMT works, but it took me a few months of studying.

If your company is only selling medical devices in the USA, then you will need to learn 21 CFR 820 (i.e. – the QSR). However, if your company also sells devices in Europe in Canada you will need to learn ISO 13485, the MDD (93/42/EEC as modified by 2007/47/EC), and the Canadian Medical Device Regulations (CMDR). I learned about ISO 13485 in a four-and-half day lead auditor course in Florida, I learned about the MDD in a three-day CE Marking Course in Virginia, and I learned about the CMDR in a two-day course taught by Health Canada in Ontario. A 50-minute webinar on each regulation is not sufficient for auditing.

Finally, you need training on the techniques of auditing. A two day course is typically needed. I took a 50-minute webinar and passed a quiz before conducting my first internal audit, but I was not competent.

Skills

Third, an auditor needs specific skills to be effective as an auditor. The most critical skills are: 1) communications skills, 2) organizational skills, and 3) analytic skills. Communications skills must include the ability to read and write exceptionally well and the auditor needs to be able to verbally communicate with auditees during meetings and interviews. The most difficult challenge for auditors is covering all the items in their agenda in the time available. The auditor rarely has more time than the need to audit any topic, and audit team leaders must be able to manage their own time as well as simultaneously managing the time of several other auditors. 

Experience

Last, but certainly not the least important aspect of auditor competency is experience. This is why 3rd party auditors are required to act as team members under the guidance of a more experienced auditor before they are allowed to perform audits on their own. This is required regardless of how many internal or supplier audits the person may have conducted in the past. More experienced auditors are also required to observe new auditors and recommend modifications in their technique. Once a new auditor has completed a sufficient number of audits as a team member, the auditor is then allowed to practice leading audits while being observed. After six to nine months, a new auditor is finally ready to be a lead auditor on their own. An internal auditor does not need the same degree of experience as a 3rd party auditor, but being shadowed 2-3 times is not sufficient experience for an auditor (1st or 2nd party). For more information about this topic, please read my blog posting on auditor shadowing.

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If you are an audit program manager, and you would like to improve your own competency, please contact me to learn about a new advanced course specifically for audit program managers. I am teaching a course with Brigid Glass. The course is designed specifically for audit program managers—not for inexperienced auditors. It will be a two-day course, and we are offering the course in three different cities: San Diego, CA (April 11/12), Orlando, FL (April 15/16) and Las Vegas, NV (April 17/18). Please Contact Me if you would like to learn more about the course.

Click Here

I am also teaching a one-hour, audio seminar with FX Conferences on January 9th:

“Are Your Suppliers Qualified? Prove It.”

This seminar will cover the areas of supplier qualification, supplier evaluation and supplier auditing. We already have a large number of companies signed-up for the seminar, and I am looking forward to having you join us.

This blog started as a single posting, but I realized that the blog was much too long. Therefore, I split the blog into three separate postings. This is the final “Part 3 of 3”. I hope you have enjoyed it. If you have suggestions for my next posting, please let me know.

How do you shadow an auditor? Did you learn anything?

In Elsmar Cove, FDA Inspections, Internal Auditing, ISO 13485, ISO 19011, Supplier Audit, Supplier Audits, Supplier Quality on November 25, 2012 at 5:43 am

If you are shadowing, you are taking notes so you can discuss your observations with the person you are shadowing later.

Somewhere in your procedure for “Quality Audits”, I’ll bet there is a section on auditor competency. Most companies require that the auditor has completed either a course for internal auditor or a lead auditor course. If the course had an exam, then you might even have evidence for training effectiveness. Demonstrating competency is much harder. One way is to review internal audit reports, but writing reports is just part of what an auditor does. How can you evaluate an auditor’s ability to interview people, take notes, follow audit trails, and manage their time? The most common solution is to require that the auditor “shadow” a more experienced auditor several times, and then the trainee will be “shadowed” by the trainer.

I can’t remember posting any music from John Mayer and the song title fits our subject for this blog.

Shadowing 1st Party Audits:

ISO 19011:2011 defines 1st party audits as internal audits. When 1st party auditors are being shadowed by trainer, or vice versa, there are many opportunities for training. The key successful training of auditors is to recognize teachable moments.

When the trainer is auditing, the trainer should look for opportunities to ask the trainee, “What should I do now?” or “What information do I need to record?” In these situations, the trainer is asking the trainee what they should do BEFORE they do it. If the trainee is not sure, the trainer should explain what, why and how at that moment with real examples.

When the trainer is shadowing, the trainer should watch and wait for a missed opportunity to gather important information. In these situations, the trainer must resist guiding the trainee until after the trainee appears to be done. When it happens sometimes the best tool is simply asking, “Are you sure you got all the information you came for?”

Here are five (5) mistakes that I have observed trainers make when they were shadowing:

1. Splitting up, instead of staying together, is one of the more common mistakes I have observed. This happens when people are more interested in completing an audit than taking every advantage of training opportunities. The trainee may be capable of auditing on their own, but this is no excuse for tag teaming the auditee. This is unfair to the trainee AND the auditee. If an audit is running behind schedule, this is the perfect time to teach a trainee how to recover some time in their schedule. Time management is after all one of the hardest skills for auditors to master.

2. Staying in the conference room, instead of going to where the work is done, is a common criticism of auditors. If the information you need to audit can be found in a conference room, then you could have completed the audit remotely. This type of audit teaches new auditors very little other than how to take notes. These are basic skills that auditors should master in a classroom prior to shadowing.

3. Choosing an administrative process is a mistake, because administrative processes limit the number of aspects of the process approach that can be practiced by an auditor-in-training. Administrative processes rarely have equipment that requires validation or calibration, and both the process inputs and outputs consist only of paperwork, forms or computer records. With raw materials and finished goods to process, the job of the auditor is more challenging because there is more to be aware of.

4. Not providing honest feedback is a huge mistake. Auditors need to be thick skinned or they don’t belong in a role where they are going to criticize others. Before you begin telling other people how to improve, you first need to self-reflect and identify your own strengths and weaknesses. Understanding your own perspective, strengths, weaknesses, and prejudices is critical to being an effective assessor. As a trainer, it is your job to help new auditors to self-reflect and accurately rate their performance against objective standards.

5. “Silent Shadowing” has no value at all. By this I mean shadowing another auditor without asking questions. If you are a trainee you should be mentally pretending you are doing the audit. Whenever the trainer does something different from the way you would do things, you should make a note so you can ask, “Why did you do that?” If you are trainer you should also be mentally pretending you are doing the audit. It is not enough to be present. You job is to identify opportunities for the trainee to improve. The better the trainee, the tougher your job becomes. This is why I training other auditors has helped me improve my own auditing skills.

Shadowing 2nd Party Audits:

If you are developing a new supplier quality engineer that is responsible for performing supplier audits, it is recommended to observe the auditor during some actual supplier audits. Supplier audits are defined as 2nd party audits in the ISO 19011:2011 Standard. The purpose of these audits is not to verify conformity to all the aspects of ISO 13485. Instead, the primary purpose of these audits is to verify that the supplier has adequate controls in place to consistently manufacture conforming product for your company. Therefore, processes such as Management Review (Clause 5.6) and Internal Auditing (Clause 8.2.2) are not typically sampled during a 2nd party audit.

The two most valuable process for a 2nd party auditor to sample are: 1) incoming inspection, and 2) production controls. Using the process approach to auditing, the 2nd party auditor will have an opportunity to verify that the supplier has adequate controls for documents and records for both of these process. Training records for personnel performing these activities can be sampled. The adequacy of raw material storage can be evaluated by following the flow of accepted raw materials leaving the incoming inspection area. Calibration records can be sampled by gathering equipment numbers from calibrated equipment in use by both processes. Even process validation procedures can be assessed by comparing the actual process parameters being used in manufacturing with the documented process parameters in the most recent validation or re-validation reports.

My recommendation is to have the trainee shadow the trainer during the process audit of the incoming inspection process and for the trainer to shadow the trainee during the process audit of production processes. In between the two process audits, the trainee should be asking questions to help them fully understand the process approach to auditing. Supplier auditors should also be coached on techniques for overcoming resistance to observe processes that may involve trade secrets or where competitor products may also be present. During the audit of production processes, the trainer may periodically prompt the trainee to gather information that will be needed for following audit trails to calibration records, document control or for comparing with the validated process parameters. The “teachable moment” is immediately after the trainee missed an opportunity, but while the trainee is still close enough to go back and capture the missing details.

Shadowing 3rd Party Audits:

Use your FDA inspections and ISO certification audits as an opportunity to shadow experienced auditors and to learn what they are looking for.

If you are going to shadow a 3rd party auditor, I recommend two specific people to “shadow” the auditor. First, the process owner should be the guide for whichever process is being audited. This is the person that will be responsible for addressing any nonconformities found in the area, and they should be present during interviews–although they should be coached on when to comment and when to remain quiet and simply observe.  Second, the person that performed an internal audit of the process being audited should be present if at all possible. This person will benefit from seeing how a professional 3rd party auditor performs a process audit, because they will know which things to look for in the future so that auditees in that area are prepared for the next external audit.

If you are an audit program manager, and you would like to learn “What Makes World Class Audit Programs Different?”, please contact me. I am co-teaching an advanced course for audit program managers in April 2013.

For other sources of information related to auditor shadowing, please check out the following links:

1. Internal Auditor Training – Shadowing external auditor? – from Elsmar Cove

2. Developing Supplier Quality Auditor Training Programs – by Seth Mailhot at NixonPeabody

Great Instructors and the Power of a SNICKERS

In Canadian Medical Device Regulations, CMDCAS, Training on November 13, 2012 at 3:57 am

I guess there are still some instructors out there that need to be reminded that we can all read the regulations on our own. We don’t need to pay $1,000+ per day in order to have someone read stuff for us. If that’s what you want, my 10-year old son is a fantastic reader. He’ll record anything you want, in any media format, for a much smaller dollar figure.

If you want to learn something that is worth at least as much as your investment of time and money, then you need to find an instructor that can teach effectively. There are four prerequisites for a great instructor:

1. The instructor must be an expert.

2. The instructor must inspire participation.

3. The instructor must provide practical examples for each student.

4. The instructor must get everyone’s attention–and keep it.

The most important determining factor of training effectiveness, however, occurs after the course is over.

You may have read my other posting with two songs by the lead singer of Pink Martini–China Forbes. However, China was unable to sing for a period of time and Storm Large was the guest singer that helped keep their tour going. Storm is larger than life and so passionate, but this performance is only one side of her personality…

When you are teaching quality assurance and regulatory affairs, you must develop your ability to inspire and engage students to Olympic medalist proportions. “Blah, blah, blah…” and “Death by PowerPoint” will get you fired. Don’t read your slides, don’t turn your back on the audience (or they’ll attack), and PLEASE don’t ever ask someone to read the definition of nonconformity out loud to the rest of the group. When I teach a class you demand my best. I’m six-foot, six inches tall and I have a loud booming voice. My mother has red hair and she was an opera singer. I’ve got the voice to fill any auditorium, and the stage presence to match. But if you even start to nod off in class, I may just have to throw a Snickers bar at you.

This is an essential tool for any instructor. It functions as a tool to prod sleeping students awake, is small enough to cause minimal injury when thrown, serves as an emergency food supply, and it’s gluten free.

If legal council recommends against using projectiles to encourage class participation, you might also consider one of my all-time genius ideas. I was scheduled for a 2-day course in Ottawa, but the day before I needed to perform an audit in Pennsylvania. Therefore, my flight was the last flight into Ottawa–arriving at approximately 1 am. My flight was delayed more than an hour and the person in front of me was trying to smuggle an extra carton of smokes into the country. Just before 4 am my taxi arrived at the Albert at Bay Suite Hotel. Class started at 8 am. I made it to class on time, and excessive consumption of several pots of black coffee helped get me to lunch. Then my legs started getting a little wobbly. Fortunately, there was a convenience store next door that sold my favorite chocolate–the Dark Aero bar! After four of these monstrous organisms of cacao, and another pot of coffee, I could have listened to the lecture on Canadian Medical Device Regulations all night.

The closest chocolate companies have come to selling the body of Christ.

Hershey’s copied them, but the result was a mere shadow of the Nestle’s greatness. Canadian’s know how to make junk food, tell a joke and play hockey!

Despite the physical handicap of sleep deprivation, I still learned a ton from my course in Canada. Here’s why:

1. The instructors were experts. Both instructors were regulatory experts and Canadian. Both instructors taught this course twice a year for multiple years, and one of the instructors actually worked for Health Canada.

2. The instructors were blessed with the perfect audience that was hyper-motivated to pass the course. Everyone in the class worked for a Notified Body that had sponsored them to take the course. In order to stay employed and get a raise, I needed to pass that course. If I failed the exam, I had to absorb the cost to travel back to Ottawa and retake the course in February (BRRRR!).

3. Everyone has different experiences and therefore not every example makes sense to us. Therefore, instructors need to use practical examples that are actionable. In  this course, the instructors brought more than a dozen medical devices to the class. We studied the labeling and the intended use of each device. Even students from Japan, Europe and Australia were familiar with some of the products. This was critical, because we all needed to be able to identify incorrect Canadian labeling.

4. The greatest asset of all was the humor of the instructor from Health Canada. He was hilarious. He had everyone laughing at his jokes for the entire course. Most of the jokes were not funny enough for a stand-up routine, but this was a mandatory regulatory course on Canadian regulations. Who would even expect a chuckle.

Despite the strengths of these instructors, there is only one reason why I know the Canadian Medical Device Regulations (CMDR) as well as I do. I use them every single week.

Here are some examples of how I used the CMDR:

First, I had to audit 162 days for BSI in 2011. Ninety percent of those 162 days were for companies that required a Canadian Medical Device License. Therefore, I started auditing companies to the Canadian regulations immediately after the course.

Second, I was also consulting for companies at the same time I was auditing for BSI. Consulting clients hired me to prepare and submit Canadian Medical Device License Applications for them. I also had to revise and create new procedures specific to the Canadian regulations. I spent another 60+ days in 2011 doing consulting.

Finally, I was one of BSI’s instructors that taught the a regulatory comparison course that compared the regulations of the USA, Canada, Europe, Australia and Japan. Therefore, at least once a month I had a classroom of 6-20 people asking me challenging questions about how to interpret and apply the regulations from each of these countries to their products.

I used every bit of knowledge I learned in that course in Ottawa and I started using that knowledge immediately after the course. I had peers, superiors, clients and students challenging my knowledge of these topics every day. This is what makes you an expert.

If you need to learn something about Quality Assurance or Regulatory Affairs, a one-hour webinar is not enough. Reading a blog is not enough. Taking a 5-day class is not enough. Shadowing another more experienced person is not enough. In the end, all of the above will get you to barely competent!  If you want to learn, you need a great instructor. Then you need to use everything you learned at every opportunity for several years.

Some say, “If you can’t do, teach.”

I say, “Bring a SNICKERS bar and throw it at them for faking it.”

For those of you that are brave enough, Storm will perform an encore that shows you a little of the wild side that we all need to unleash from time to time (even us regulatory geeks). I think she might have had more than one candy bar before this performance.

Never Stop Learning

In ISO 14971, Medical Device, QA, Quality, Quality Management Systems, Risk Management, Training on April 2, 2011 at 2:30 pm

One of my family’s favorite songs is “Come on Get Higher” by Matt Nathanson. Two years ago I tried to purchase this for my wife as a Christmas present. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember who sang the song. I tried searching the web for the lyrics and found out that Sugarland sings it. I remembered the logo on the album cover, went to the store and bought the album. After I got home I realized that the song wasn’t on the album. Back to the store I went and found another version of the album with some live versions of songs—including “Come on Get Higher.” Just to make sure I had the right song, I decided to open the package and play it. My music video selection for this blog is what I heard. I guess we never stop learning, but I did fall in love with Country music at the age of 38…

I am in Canada, it’s almost midnight, and this client has me thinking so hard that I can’t sleep. I am here to teach the company’s Canadian facility about ISO 14971:2007—the ISO Standard for Risk Management of medical devices.

                Most of the companies that request this training are doing so for one of two reasons: 1) several of their design engineers know almost nothing about risk management, or 2) they have several design engineers that are quite knowledgeable with regard to risk management but these engineers have not maintained their credentials and their last risk management training was to the 2000 version of the Standard. This company falls into the second category.

                I always tell students that I learn something by teaching each course. From this company, however, I have learned so much. This company has forced me to re-read the Standard a number of times and reflect on the nuances of almost every single phrase. I have learned more about this Standard in one month than I learned in the 3.5 years since I first took the course I am now teaching.

                I have developed a model for learning that explains this phenomenon. I call this model the “Learning Pyramid.” At the base of the pyramid there are “Newbies.”

               This is the first of four levels. At the base, students read policies and procedures with the hope of understanding.

                In the second level of the pyramid, the student is now asked to watch someone else demonstrate proper procedures. One of my former colleagues has a saying that explains the purpose of this process well, “A picture tells a thousand words, but a demonstration is like a thousand pictures.” This is what our children call “sharing time,” but everyone over 40 remembers this as “show and tell.”

                In the third level of the pyramid, the student is now asked to perform the tasks they are learning. This is described as “doing,” but in my auditing courses I refer to this process as “shadowing.” Trainees will first read the procedures for Internal Auditing (level 1). Next trainees will shadow the trainer during an audit as a demonstration of proper technique (level 2). During subsequent audits, the trainees will audit and the trainer will shadow the trainee (level 3). During this “doing” phase, the trainer must watch, listen and wait for what I call the “Teachable Moment.” This is a moment when the trainee makes a mistake, and you can use this mistake as an opportunity to demonstrate a difficult subject.

                Finally, in the fourth level of the Learning Pyramid we now allow the trainee to become a trainer. This is where I am at—so I thought. I am an instructor, but I am still learning. I am learning what I don’t know.

                The next step in the learning process is to return to the first level. I am re-reading the Standard and procedures until I really understand the nuances that I was unaware of. Then I will search for examples in the real world that demonstrate these complex concepts I am learning. After searching for examples, I will test my knowledge by attempting to apply the newly acquired knowledge to a 510(k) or CE Marking project for a medical device client. Finally, I will be prepared to teach again.

                This reiterative process reminds me of the game Chutes and Ladders, but one key difference is that we never really reach the level of “Guru.” We continue to improve, but never reach our goal of perfection…For further inspiration try reading “Toyota Under Fire.”

The Secret to Successful Training

In Internal Auditing, International Standard, ISO, ISO 13485, Medical Device, QA, QC, Quality, Quality Management Systems, Training on January 7, 2011 at 3:32 am

About 10 years ago my CD collection was stolen and I haven’t heard this tune since. Sass Jordan might be a little raw for your average professional but everyone needs to loosen up sometimes. Just-in-case you were wondering, I think this CD (Rat) was next to the Greatest Hits of Ella Fitzgerald—which they left behind. I love the singing by both women but for very different reasons.

Recently a client asked me to create a training course on how to train operators. I could have taught the operators myself, but there were so many people that needed training that we felt it would be more cost effective to train the trainers.

                Usually I have multiple presentations archived that I can draw upon, but this time I had nothing. I had never trained engineers on how to be trainers before—at least not formally. I thought about what kinds of problems other Quality Managers have had in training internal auditors and how I have helped the auditors improve. The one theme I recognized was that most auditors needed feedback.

                I finally decided to use the Deming Cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act, or PDCA) as my framework for the training. Most QA Managers are very experienced and have little trouble planning an audit schedule. The next step is to do the auditing. The problem is that there is very little objective oversight of the auditing process. The Standard requires that “Auditors shall not audit their own work.” Therefore, most companies will opt for one of two solutions for auditing the internal audit process: 1) hire a consultant, or 2) ask the Director of Regulatory Affairs to audit the internal auditing process.

                Both of the above strategies meet the requirements of the Standard, but neither strategy helps to make internal auditors better. I have interviewed a lot of audit program managers, maybe 50+, and the most common feedback for auditors is “change the wording of this finding” or “you forgot to close this previous finding.” This type of feedback is related to the report writing phase of the audit process. I rarely hear program managers explain how they help auditors improve at the other parts of the process.

                When auditors are first being trained we typically will provide examples of best practices for audit preparation, checklists, interviewing techniques AND reports. After the auditors have been “shadowed” by the program manager for an arbitrary three times the auditors are now miraculously “trained.” Let’s see if I can draw an analogy that will make my point…

                That kind of sounds like watching your 16 year-old drive the family car three times and then giving them a license. I guess that’s why my new Ford Festiva was severely dented on all four sides within 6 months. You might think my father was a Saint, but I think he might have totaled his tenth car by age 18. At least I contained the damage to one vehicle.

                Anyway the key to training auditors to audit, or anyone on anything, is consistent follow-up over a long period of time.

                The question is…was my training successful?

                Well, how much follow-up training of the trainers did the client ask for?

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