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LPA (Layered Process Audits)

Implement a multi-step LPA audit process using digital checklists to double-check critical manufacturing steps.

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Layered Process Audit Checklist Template

Use this layered process audit checklist template daily for your production to check different aspects.

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Layered Process Audit Template

Use this layered process audit template daily for your production to check different aspects.

Download template
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What is a Layered Process Audit?

The Layered Process Audit (LPA) is a tool to noticeably improve the compliance and implementation of process standards in companies. When applied to the right processes, it automatically has a positive impact on process results and quality.

The good thing about LPA is that it does not require external auditors. With little effort, employees and managers benefit from other positive effects, such as solution-oriented communication, greater understanding of processes, and a higher awareness of process specifications.

The word "Layered" is derived from English (layered = layered). It stands for the different management levels involved in the process audit. Through the "Process Audit", those involved recognize whether work processes have been implemented as agreed, whether they are suitable and whether the goals have thus been achieved.

The LPA is part of the quality management system. Many companies now require such a process audit from their suppliers. This is to guarantee controllable, reliable processes and standards and, if necessary, to continuously optimize them. An LPA will improve a company's operational performance at all levels.

These topics are covered in this article:

1. Why LPA implementation is beneficial

2. The flow of a multi-stage process audit

3. Why an LPA checklist is important

4. A digital solution for LPA implementation

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Why implement layered process audits?

To many employees, an LPA initially appears to be an additional task imposed from above. During implementation, however, it quickly becomes apparent that the layered process audit motivates employees and overcomes hierarchical barriers in communication. Other benefits that result from the introduction of an LPA are:

  1. High involvement of managers and employees

  2. Clear requirements for process standards

  3. Common understanding of process standards

  4. Standard operating procedures are more securely implemented

  5. Variations in production results are minimized

  6. The production ecosystem improves

  7. Material waste, scrap, rework and rejects are reduced

  8. More efficient production accompanied by decreasing costs

  9. Other internal audits can be partially replaced and thus the effort required

The procedure of a multi-stage process audit

The introduction of the layered process audit method requires a coordinated arrangement within the company. This is the only way to ensure that quality is maintained through conformity at every stage of production. Crucial to this are the four central elements of the LPA method:

  1. Leaders as auditors
  2. LPA checklists of questions and checkpoints
  3. Immediate corrective action for non-conformances and action for non-conformances
  4. The traffic light colors red, yellow and green visualize the results and measures

The actual audit then proceeds as follows:

  1. Executives of different hierarchical levels (layers) check with the support of checklists with checkpoints that standards, rules and specifications (process) are adhered to. For this purpose, short conversations (audit) of one to five minutes are held with the employees.

  2. If deviations or not implemented specifications and standards in the process occur, these are corrected by the manager (auditor) and the employee (auditee) together immediately. If tasks prove to be unfeasible, further action must be initiated.

  3. The visualization of the LPA for all employees on-site represents the results as well as the initiated and implemented measures. This makes it visible and transparent for all that and how the audit was conducted.

The importance of LPA checklists

The basis of every Layered Process Audit is the checklist with questions and checkpoints. The LPA checklist is used to verify whether the specified standards are implemented and adhered to in the process. Through LPA, standards should become routine in production.

The LPA questions for the checklist are derived from the important specifications required to achieve a good process result. These include work and process instructions as well as functional and process descriptions. Ideally, the questions should be created jointly between the manager and the employee.

Even experiences of employees and managers can serve as the basis for questions. Customer requirements and results from ongoing processes must also be formulated as questions. There are two different directions to formulate LPA questions:

  1. ...from the process - What can I ask? Simple, logical, quick.
  2. ...from the result - What do I have to ask? Analytical, competent, successful.

A layered process audit checklist is designed to be short and easy to answer for simpler and faster reporting. All checklist questions are ideally phrased as closed-ended questions. That is, they can be answered "yes" or "no." In addition, it is advantageous to limit the number of questions in the checklist to one page.

Many companies use LPA software to manage the documentation of results from the checklists. The collected audit reports are analyzed at the end to provide an overview of trends that impact production. Immediately reporting deviations and taking action will help minimize the impact on production. In addition, the collected data can be used for future LPA checklists.

A digital solution that facilitates the implementation of LPA in manufacturing

A layered process audit system requires an efficient system to record and manage the data from a multistage process audit. The basis for a successful implementation is the optimal use of time and resources within the quality team and throughout the company. Using Lumiform's Layered Process Audit Layered software, auditors can address the following challenges:

  • Uncoordinated planning
    Regular multistage process audits, which are to be completed per shift, week or month, can be forgotten. The scheduling feature reminds quality auditors when a multistage process audit schedule is due and indicates the time window in which an LPA should be completed.

  • Audits not completed
    Audits can be perceived as a nuisance, which is why they are not given priority in day-to-day business in production. Lumiform promotes audit completion through its real-time reporting capability. The scheduling feature also shows managers if audits are overdue. Besides, each layered process audit checklist can be conveniently completed anytime, anywhere via a mobile device.

  • Continuing non-conformity
    Nonconformity can be overlooked if it is not reported and corrected. With the Lumiform App, it is possible to take photos and notes via a mobile device to capture any non-compliance found immediately. Besides, problems can be assigned immediate action with the appropriate urgency and deadline.

  • No follow-up or verification
    Paper-based audits are filed upon completion and later manually retrieved for review, thus losing a lot of time that could be better used for corrective action in case of nonconformities. Lumiform's layered process audits software can automatically generate reports and share them with other team members and business stakeholders via mobile devices or the desktop.

  • Disorganised records
    Lumiform enables quality managers to fill out LPAs via mobile devices and then instantly generate CEO-ready reports that are automatically organised and secured in the cloud and accessible anytime, anywhere.

  • No continuous process improvement
    Paper-based audits must be manually organised, reviewed and recorded to collect enough data for analysis. With Lumiform's analysis feature, quality staff can quickly review frequently failed checks to determine which issues need to be addressed as a priority.  They can also view trends to determine which areas are performing well and which need improvement. The evaluation also allows them to see how checks are progressing over time.

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