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Stob We had our quality audit the other week. Its cadences seemed curiously familiar.

The solemnisation of the quality system

The service is traditionally held in the offices of a software house, as a St Audit's day substitute for matins.

The congregation are gathered in the programmers' kitchenette, sipping coffee.

Opening procession

The Quality Manager and Managing Director process through the office, regarding with dismay the documents strewn across desks, semi-dismantled PCs, disordered shelves, age-faded xkcd cartoons taped to monitors in a fire- and hap- hazard manner, overflowing paper-recycling facilities and so on. The service begins with the prayer for tidiness.

Prayer for tidiness

Managing Director: Oh God. Make speed to clean up!

The Congregation: Oh Christ! Is it the audit?

Quality Manager: Oh God, you had forgotten?

Managing Director: If any person here knows any just reason why the auditor should not recertify us today, let him hold his peace now or forever sod off.

The Congregation: Amen.

First hymn

Quality Manager: Let us rise, and sing the first hymn.

We hide the dross and scatter
The good stuff in full view.
But does it really matter
Our metrics are askew?
With nonconforming product,
What can we hope to gain?
The prize for our misconduct
Is soft, refreshing pain.

Of all the software standards
Nine kay's the one we hate.
But thank the Lord, yes thank the Lord,
S'not six-one-five-oh-eight.

Arrival of the auditor

Then a phone is rung three times, and N shall answer it.

N: There's a Stephen MacBride in reception for you, Linda. The auditor?

Quality Manager: Ok. I had better go and fetch him.

The Congregation: Very well. We will wait here.

The Congregation may then sing:

Here comes MacBride / We rather hoped he'd died.

The exchange of worldly goods

Managing Director: Hi, Stephen. How are things? Are you good?

Auditor: Morning Adam. Yes, I'm good. Are you both good? Is everybody good?

Managing Director: I'm good too.

N: I'm good.

M: I'm good, thanks.

The Congregation: We're all good!

Quality Manager:  I am quite well, thank you.

(There is five seconds horrified silence at the Quality Manager's impropriety.)

Preaching to the choir

Auditor: Thought I was going to get here early for once. Should have got here half-an-hour ago - broken points. That's trains for you!

The Congregation: That is indeed trains for you. Amen.

Quality Manager:  Will you have a coffee? I seem to remember you take milk?

Auditor: I do.

Quality Manager:  And one-and-a-half sugars?

Auditor: I do.

The Congregation: We are out of sugar. I shall go and get some.

Managing Director: Don't all go. How many people does it take to buy a bag of sugar? Let N go.

N: I don't need to go. M's got some sugar in her locker!

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Next page: The ordeal

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