With countries around the world having experienced lock-down, in some form another, remote auditing is becoming essential to ensure the ongoing compliance and business continuity of your company operations.
In this video series, Peter Rogers from Mango Global discusses the challenge of remote auditing with compliance consultants from around the world.
The consultants give us some techniques and insights on how to perform effective remote auditing.
This is #1 in a series 5 compliance conversations about remote auditing.
The question we answer in this conversation is "Was remote auditing as hard as you thought it was to be?"
Check out the video here:
Was remote auditing as hard as you thought it was to be?
Chris, FQM Ltd, United Kingdom
In total FQM has done about, I think, since beginning of March, about 62 remote audits, between myself and 4 others, and it's been fairly straightforward, fairly simple.
The downside of course, is that you don't get the look and feel when you're auditing a high-risk activity but that's understood. For example, tomorrow, I'm going to a site to do some auditing on high risk activities but I'm only going there for three hours. I've already done a full day of auditing their systems and their evidence around all the other parts of the management system.
Many of our clients have seen it as a win win, simply because when we went to site, they basically had to give up one or two days of their normal work activity, so that they could babysit us and shadow us and provide us with what we needed, whereas now we send them my agenda, and a list of what we expect to see.
Often what happens is we get information in advance from them, and then we have set scheduled times:
an hour with someone in operations,
an hour with someone in HR,
an hour with maybe someone in leadership etc.
So, the person that is used to overseeing that activity a year ago, has gained this extra time that they normally would lose.
Gary, QSM Group, Australia
QSM has being doing remote auditing with Mango clients for probably the last two or three years, we're actually used to doing remote audits, so from that perspective, it wasn't that challenging.
However, when it involves what would normally be done as observations at sites and so forth, you have to arrange for people to be available for interviews at certain times. As we know, flexibility with auditing is pretty important because sometimes people, despite agreeing to actually be available a certain time, there may be things that prevent that from happening. That can at times be a little bit frustrating and challenging because people you've teed up to be available for an interview at, say, 10am in the morning, they may have something urgent that occurs during that morning and can't be available. So, from that perspective, it's challenging, but as I said, we've done the remote audits in one way or another for about the last two or three years only with Mango clients though.
Andrew, IRM Systems, Australia
Mostly I found it easy, to be honest. I think a lot of the clients I've worked with, perhaps say compared to five years ago, they're more familiar with the web conferencing kind of software that you need to use or other communication options.
I think also, the fact where I'm based in Victoria, and we've gone into a lockdown, many companies have had to get familiar with that kind of technology as well.
I've conducted quite a number of audits remotely at moment, but most of them have been conducted effectively, we've achieved the objective of the audit without too much issues.
Michael, Momentum Safety and Ergonomics, Australia
I'd done a little bit before actually, I have a couple of clients that are a bit remote, so I have done some remote auditing, a little bit more since COVID came along, obviously. It's always got its challenges but I don't think they're insurmountable. It's definitely something that I’ve found that can be done, for sure.
Jodie, Penarth Management, UK
We never actually thought it was going to be difficult and we've been using remote video conferencing technology for a number of months anyway, that works really well.
On those clients who were already using Mango, when we're finding information in the system that's been extremely straightforward.
The more challenging audits to do on a remote basis, have been those where we've needed people to walk around and show us evidence, perhaps on a site, looking at various bits and pieces and the difficulty hasn't so much been in seeing stuff, it’s more about ‘have the clients got the right technology in the first place?’
For instance, some of our clients didn't have cameras on their devices and it's either meant them upgrading their equipment or it's meant us adapting the way we ask questions but it hasn't been that difficult at all.
Mark, Business Basics, Australia
To do remote auditing with the way the bulk of our clients have run their system, it's actually been harder because you’ll say 'I need this document, and this document, and this document, and this document' and it can take significant amount of time for them to get back to it, do a one day audit has taken two or three or four days by the time they get back to you with the information.
Nicholas, SRM, South Africa
No, not at all. We've found that people have transitioned to utilising technology quite easily. We've been using a variety of different tools, obviously Mango, we record the audit evidence into and we've been using either Microsoft Teams or Zoom to be able to chat to people etc.
I don't think remote audits or the transition to remote audits in terms of the technology or the people adapting to it, I don't think that's been difficult at all.
Gary, QSM Group, Australia
One of the actually key challenges in terms of the technology that they've got at their end, particularly if you're doing remote auditing in remote locations, sometimes the internet connectivity can be a little bit hit and miss, particularly at certain times of day.
So, you'd have to then plan to make sure you're doing certain work, when you know the connectivity is going to be at its best.
John, Many Caps Consulting, New Zealand
Really easy, really straightforward. I mean, start to finish, I think we're about four hours on video conference, walking around the place, and there was nothing that we couldn't do.
We walked through the entire manufacturing process, in fact, we went from goods inwards, all the way through to dispatch using their iPad, I had some questions as we went and there was no issues at all, it was super simple.
We started in an office just on video conference walking through the management system. We had given the auditor remote access to the management system in advance, because we're using Mango, he had cloud access to that. I had gone through the system in advance but was also asking those questions of that as we went through. We were able to use that and share the screen and show them through Mango in real time what was happening.
He could also verify that in that access that he had to make sure that we weren’t showing him something that wasn't there, which was really good. We also can say ‘you click here, click there’ and he actually went through the system himself to find the evidence which was really helpful.
Planning is the key
Supply the auditee with agenda prior to audit.
Ensure everyone has the right equipment.
Remote auditing saves time.
Remote auditing is easy with Mango.