For so many years remote auditing has been a subject for debate. While there has been so much talk about it, it never took off or saw the light of day.
The resistance lobby to remote auditing has been the stronger and louder than the pro lobby. In this brief message, I am outlining some of the arguments for and against (as I experienced them myself) and the forthcoming world conditions that I believe will tilt the arguments in favour of the Pro Lobby.
Arguments against remote audits have mostly been around logistical rather than legal, or regulatory reasoning. Examples are regarding difficulties in:
- Walking around the shop floor and reviewing of evidence
- The need for internet presence for communication
- Internet speed and reliability
- Trust in remote audit results
- The presence of senior management and their commitment
But nowhere does it legally or contractually specify that an audit “must be” face to face in the definition or requirements for audits nor do International Standards insist on it. It is an independent and systematic review of the operation of the Management System elements. How it gets reviewed does not matter or need to be face to face.
This is the same ideological traditionalist approach to Business management systems methodologies that has been slow to keep up with advances in other sectors.
While on the other hand, the Pro lobby look at it from efficiency and cost savings point of view and state that with the technological advancement, more can be done remotely providing the following benefits
- Reduced Travel and hotel costs
- More environmental friendliness with reduced Travel
- Savings in Management time through improved planning and technology utilisation
- Reduction in the number of days as a result of travel and walkabout savings
This applies to internal as well as external audits, first-party, second-party and third-party audits. There is no significant difference
In an emergency or a crisis, the risk of cancelling, postponing or foregoing audits increases. There is already talk as to how the Corona virus crisis is going to impact the audit process. The danger is that due to crisis pressures, management systems taking lower priority during business survival prioritisation being a reality and not fiction
The pro lobby will be forgiven for adding Health & Safety Considerations for auditors and for employees to their argument new points such as:
- PPE Equipment costs
- Number of people in the room
- Social Distancing
- Sanitisers, Etc.
There are so many activities that can take place remotely, surely an audit can be conducted remotely. Below are some examples:
- World leaders can hold summits and agree strategically critical decisions,
- Company Financial Reviews and audits
- Approval of critical products by the FDA and other authorities
- Management reviews
- Remote team(s) management
- Sales Meetings etc.
What is of prime importance in the coming months and possibly years, is to focus on the survival of the business by real adoption of the quality principals and cultures rather than continuing to insist on driving a wedge between quality principals and companies.
Let us bring Forward Quality thing to the forefront of the fight to support company survival by adopting enhanced thinking. We need to promote out of box thinking for audits such as:
- Embracing technology in audit communication
- Embracing new approaches to auditing concepts
- Embracing the concepts of continual improvement in auditing methodology as is being requested by audits themselves on management systems
You can already provide access to an auditor to:
- Review information remotely
- View selected & specific information
- Limit time and duration
- Enter their audit reports directly on your company systems.
- No need for auditors to request updates.
- View updates & CAPA directly & remotely
- Receive built in notifications.
Technology can deal with this. So, should our minds. If your management system cannot function to this standard of thinking, you can take advantage of the current distancing and isolation times to examine better ways of working.
By Sam Zaidan
Published: 08 April 2020
QMSrs is a provider of quality excellence solutions, registered in and operating from the United Kingdom.
We Support leadership with building "Excellence Cultures", by equipping their teams to transform inefficient systems into “Lean Integrated Systems”.
We deliver "Confidence in Quality". The future is Quality. The future of Quality is by Outsourcing it.
You can read more about QMSrs offerings Here.