Remote audit is not an entirely new concept. ISO 19011:2018 Annex A1 already makes provisions for it and acknowledges its potential to provide flexibility for achieving the audit objectives. In this blog, we talk about how you can make remote audits effective.
This blog is an excerpt taken from the whitepaper, “Remote Audits of Quality and Safety Processes”.
With COVID-19 disrupting supply chains and with businesses working with reduced staff, remote auditing may seem like a boon. Apart from saving time and costs, less resources may be dedicated to coordinating with the auditor, leaving the rest of the key staff to continue with their core functions.
However, remote audits should be treated with as much seriousness as an on-site audit. It is merely a convenience and deserves the same “attention to detail” as an in-person audit.
Here are 7 must-haves for a remote audit to be effective. The auditor leading the remote audit process needs help in the following areas:
- Management Commitment and Involvement: The leadership team needs to lead the way by taking the remote audit seriously and preparing as it would for a regular audit
- Understanding of the Complexity of the Processes Based on
- Industry and Nature of Business Operations: Different industries have different levels of hazard and risk exposure and so are governed differently. Auditors need to factor this in and seek to view all relevant locations where the risks are high
- Size of the Organization and Number of Employees: The complexity in larger organizations could be more while smaller organizations may be unable to manage their safety and health requirements due to lack of enough resources
- Number of Locations to be Audited: How many locations and the time it will need should be estimated correctly for a comprehensive view of all areas
- Information on the Existing Controls in Place: This will help assess the current level of health and safety success and the gaps that need to be filled
- Layouts, Documents, Processes as Part of Pre-auditing Requirements: This will help with planning the audit for greater efficacy
- Communication Protocols to be Established
- The Audit Process and Goals from an Audit to be Elaborated
- Employee Engagement by:
- Making the concerned parties aware of their role in the process
- The inputs required and the outputs expected
- The risks and opportunities
- The basis for achieving the audit and audit program objectives
Just like in a physical audit, remote audits need planning and scoping. However, in greater detail to factor in extra time due to technical glitches for each element of the auditing process.
Having a legal agreement setting down the scope and expected outcomes of the audits are essential for greater clarity. It should clearly prohibit any recording of screen-shares, live streams, or other media transmitted remotely to ensure data protection for the auditee.
Factors that Make a Remote Audit Feasible
For the remote audit to be feasible, not only is the auditee consent and preparedness essential, but some other key factors are:
- The availability of ICT that supports remote audits including offline functionality, ability to upload pictures/videos on a mobile app
- Total commitment of the employees/stakeholders involved in the exercise as technology is only a facilitator while human intervention is essential
- For live walkthroughs, the devices used for the live stream during the audit and the connectivity strength need to be checked prior to the audit
Businesses truly keen on creating quality products in safe environments should ensure key personnel know how to conduct a remote audit. The auditee must provide all the necessary information and training in taking the auditor virtually throughout the facility for a clear assessment of the safety and quality preparedness of the organization. The key is to think of this as a team effort and that the audit process is good for the organization. It simply helps the enterprise “know all their gaps” and be prepared to take action accordingly.
ComplianceQuest’s EHS + EQMS Solution – An Integrated Solution for Improved Remote Auditing Outcomes
The audit management software helps businesses manage their internal and external audits right from planning to implementation of recommendations for improvement. Being highly integrated, it lends itself smoothly to remote auditing by providing an enterprise-wide view of quality and safety-related data without sacrificing security requirements. Access to historical as well as real-time data and a risk-based approach enabled by the tool makes it easy for auditors to assess the risk levels, identify root causes and suggest corrective actions to minimize non-compliance as well as future events.
While the onus of the virtual tour of the facilities in an honest and open manner will still lie with the organization, ComplianceQuest’s QHSE solution furthers the commitment of the businesses to deliver on their promise of quality and safety.
To know more about the QHSE solution and how it can improve your audit readiness in person or remotely, click the link below: https://www.compliancequest.com/audit-management-software-system/
You can also request a personalized demo to understand how CQ can help you in making your organization remote audit-ready: https://www.compliancequest.com/personalized-demo/