The Headaches of Competence Management

More organizations are facing challenges in scheduling (freelance) auditors. Many find that their problems originate from complex competence management. Are you facing challenges scheduling auditors due to competence management?

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The Headaches of Competence Management

More organizations are facing challenges in scheduling (freelance) auditors. Many find that their problems originate from complex competence management. Are you facing challenges scheduling auditors due to competence management? If so, keep reading to learn how to manage it effectively.

The increasing complexity of competence management

Only an auditor with the right competencies is allowed to perform an audit. The rule sounds simple but the reality is more complex. Certification Bodies hardly can keep track of the competence compliance rules. Accreditation Bodies and Standard Owners are putting more focus on competence management. For this reason, it’s necessary to keep an up-to-date database with all applicable competence registrations of your auditors. The great benefit is that this database can then be used by planners to construct schedules that are compliant with both efficiency thresholds and audit competence requirements.

But what happens when an audit gets more complex? What happens if you combine audits into combi-audits? It is rare to have an auditor who has all the competencies for a complex or combi- audit. In most of these cases, auditors are combined into audit teams. The combined team should adhere to all required competencies. This way of scheduling is what we call competence oriented scheduling.

When an audit requires a lot of different competencies it puts a strain on the availability of multiple auditors. To be able to use competence oriented scheduling without putting a strain on an organization, it’s necessary that the organization has a good understanding of the current state of the available competencies. This is getting more complex for the following three reasons:

1 Complexity of the register: TIC bodies need to register more data about the competencies of auditors. These days the competence data exists of standards, categories, EA codes, Nace-codes, Audit-levels, Accreditation body, Training due dates, number of performed audits, number of same site visits, etc. All this data needs to be combined and verified before a TIC body can schedule an auditor for any audit. This, by itself, is complex to manage.

2 Freelance auditors: Due to globalization, certifiers are performing audits on a global level. To avoid travel costs, TIC bodies hire freelance auditors in the region to do the job. These auditors get contracted for a couple of audits per year. For the TIC bodies, it is hard to keep track of the validity of the competence of their freelance auditors, especially for the experience gained within other certification bodies.

3 Proof to the standard owners: Standards Organisations are raising the bar for the competencies. They require more governance and insight into all details of competence management. They require the TIC body, or freelance auditor, to provide proof of compliance to their competence standards. This can be done through witness audits, proof of training that is followed, and the number of audits performed in a period and much more. This all needs to be maintained in an up-to-date system and shared with the standard owner.

Software and competence management

Competence management is a game of data and structure. The existing competencies need to be managed, together with the upcoming training, witness audit’s, performed audit’s, Nace codes and EA Codes. All this data needs to be communicated with Standards Organisations.

Most schedulers use a digital register to manage the competencies. While using digital registers is fine for scheduling, using just a digital register isn’t sufficient for managing competencies during operations. Because during operations the competencies of an auditor change frequently. It is up to the scheduler him/herself to update the register. This is prone to error. For this reason, software engineers have worked to create software solutions for competence management. Most of this software is combined with general Certification Software, but specific Competence Management Tools do exist. We do not recommend using point solutions, but the option is available.

Certification software, with the Competence Management Tools, can manage the competence of all auditors. It does this through online areas. For instance, it provides an online area for freelance auditors to keep their competencies up-to-date. Another example is that, based on the data the client provided in the acquisition phase, certification software is able to match the right auditor or audit team for the audit, automatically. This automated competence oriented scheduling takes into account the competence, travel distance, and the level of utilization of the audit capacity.

Besides the automated option for competence oriented scheduling, the main benefit of using automated software is that software can warm TIC bodies about triggers for training, witness audits, and the minimal number of performed audits.

Requirements for competence management tools

Using an online tool for competence management reduces the strains around the complexity of the register, the scheduling of freelance auditors and the proof to the Standard Organisations. Besides that, it helps with competence oriented scheduling. So, using a tool has multiple benefits, but not all tools offer the same range of benefits. We set out ground rules for a good Competence Management Tool. A good competence management tool should have:

  1. The ability to distinguish different competence aspects of an audit.
  2. The ability to mix and match your auditor database to find a team that is suitable for the audit.
  3. Consideration for the availability of the auditors, the travel distance and costs, the scope of the audit, and other necessary information.
  4. An option to combine the data of the audit proposal with the data in your competence register and create the optimal team for the audit.

To be compliant with the Accreditation Standards, keeping your team formally approved by Standards Organisations is key. Building and maintaining your competence register, including the link with witness audits, the number of executed audits, internal reviews and evaluation takes a lot of effort. It takes your focus off the core business of your organization.

Competence management by itself will not make your organization more productive. It will just make sure that you’ll make fewer mistakes. The key to using competence management in an organization is integration. When an organization has integrated the right competence management tools, the organization can schedule all the upcoming audit’s using the tool. That way the tool will calculate the most optimal schedules for the upcoming audits.

Managing competencies in Zertic

The mentioned complexity factors made it so that competence management was placed on our roadmap. Over the past years, we worked on the full integration of competence management into the TIC processes. Zertic will help organizations to better understand the competence management segments, besides that it will help to structure and organize audits in such a way that schedules will be close to optimal.

Within the application, there are two options for scheduling an audit. Audits are scheduled either through the competence management tool or through manual scheduling. Depending on the complexity of the audit and the preference of the TIC body either option can be chosen or switched between before or during the audit.

If you want to learn more about the full integration of competence management in Zertic please visit our website. Turn competence management from a headache into profit.”

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