However, as things became more complex and problems arose, the plant manager realized he
needed help to solve problems. So he hired the consultant, who fixed things. And the plant manager
saw that it was good.
And, as business grew, the plant manager realized that he needed to improve, so he hired a consultant with special skills in finding not only solutions to problems, but ways to improve. And the
operation improved. And the plant manager saw that it was good.
Businesses saw that there was money to be made in offering services, so they created their own
standards and imposed these standards on people with whom they worked—standards that included
hundreds of questions and were generic to the entire food industry.
And, as the food plant’s commerce continued to grow, the plant manager was told by his customers and clients to abandon those who had helped the company grow. “Thou shalt have an audit,”
they said, and the businesses imposed their standards on his plant. And the plant manager saw
that it was not good for his operation…
The parable above was created to set the stage for this article on third-party audits.
Are such audits the “be all” and “end all” that some think that they are? Are there any real
differences between the various audit schemes currently being offered? What do
companies, both vendors and customers, really want from these audits? What kind of
skills should an auditor have? Hopefully, this article will make people think about the
prevalence of third-party audits—which have, for good or for ill, turned into a multibillion
dollar global business.