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Assessment RAG Guideline and Template

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Audit and assessment is one of the key activities of quality professionals as they confirm that the company is following the standards and guidelines which it professes to adhere. The Assessment RAG Guideline and Template offers a simple and clear way of scoring and creating focus in improving the overall system.

RAG scoring

A helpful tool during assessing and feedback is the ‘traffic light’ system, where each item is marked as Red, Amber or Green (RAG) and where:

  • RED means ‘There is a problem here that must be addressed in the short term. This will be a subject of close management attention until it is completed.’
  • AMBER means ‘Some work is needed here and certainly should be done before the next assessment.’
  • GREEN means ‘No problems or non-conformance is minor in comparison with other areas.’

In practice, the use of these strict meanings may be moderated such that Green means ‘good enough’. If it meant ‘perfect’ then in most assessments, nothing would be Green. The goal of assessments should be to give focus, and this is where the skill of the assessor is important in selecting the most important areas for Red and Amber action, of which there should be a manageable number. A large number of Reds and Ambers could still appear, but only in exceptional circumstances. If many items are Red, then this means the system is in severe trouble and probably needs a complete rebuild. Many Ambers means that while the system is usefully operational, there is so much work to be done that this likely to need significant additional resourcing to bring it up to scratch.

Traffic-light Guidance Table

To provide guidance both for assessors and people being assessed, it can be useful to create a traffic light guidance system, where there is a description for each of Red, Amber and Green against each point in the standard. In creating this, it can be helpful to engage people being assessed in agreeing the descriptions as this is not only an educational exercise but helps keep things sensible and accurate with regard to the standard.






4.1a Relevant processes and their application throughout the company are determined for the QMS.

No or few descriptions of processes available, or much of what is shown is clearly irrelevant (eg. well out of date, inaccurate, inadequate).

Some process documentation available, or documents are inadequate in some way.

Clear and appropriate documentation for all relevant processes, including management process.

4.1b The sequence and interaction of these processes has been determined.

Process descriptions lack flowcharts or other indication of interaction with other processes.

Some flowcharts or interaction tables, or descriptions are ‘stand-alone’, without clear connection into a whole system.

Cascaded process diagrams with clear descriptions of interaction with other processes (including input/output criteria).



Assessment Table

For the actual assessment, a table can also be used in which assessment notes are given against each point in the standard, followed by a RAG rating and recommended action to return the item to a Green status.

The table format helps keep the assessment notes brief and relevant to the section in the standard. The RAG rating is done with reference to the Guidance Table, although the assessor should have leeway to give an intelligent rating based on experience rather than just the words given in the guidance. This is can cause confusion but can be very helpful in the discussion that it may trigger as the assessor discusses further the reason for the rating. The recommendation also may be challenged and should always make sense in terms of the resource available and management commitment to improvement.




RAG Rating


4.1a Relevant processes and their application throughout the company are determined for the QMS.

Documentation system has not been reviewed for a year, during which a number of processes have changed.


Review and revise all documents so they are all up to date

4.1b The sequence and interaction of these processes has been determined.

Clear cascaded set of processes with interfaces well-documented.


Update only with changes from 4.1a.



Next time: Five Paragraph Order


This article first appeared in Quality World, the journal of the Chartered Quality Institute


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