24 Apr, 2020
Whilst we’re all staying at home and social distancing, I’m going to share with you what my life is like now – as the virtual auditor. Since the Coronavirus has inflicted major changes on everyday work life, for nearly all industries, the auditing profession has had to adapt to be a little more creative than usual…
When you look outside of a morning, it would appear life as we know it has come to a stop. At this point; we no longer have to put our keys in our doors to leave for work, but instead we put our passwords into our laptops to start the day. Whilst we’re all staying at home and social distancing, I’m going to share with you what my life is like now – as the virtual auditor.
Since the Coronavirus has inflicted major changes on everyday work life, for nearly all industries, the auditing profession has had to adapt to be a little more creative than usual. Us auditors have had to seek out the technology that can be used most effectively for our work activities. Performing an audit physically means you can ensure a management system is being properly maintained, thanks to tangible evidence and discussion. However, to conduct an audit without being physically present, unable to complete the audit feeling confident that you’ve seen sufficient evidence and assured that the management system is conformant, is a slightly different process!
So, first thing’s first. Preparation is your friend! Before an audit, I always prepare. However, the environment that I’m auditing is usually completely different. In a remote scenario, the environment doesn’t really change… Clients don’t walk around with their laptops trying to angle the camera at the physical evidence. Similarly, nobody wants to be sat on a video conference call for hours and hours, myself included. This presents an ergonomic challenge, which in my view, can be prevented. As an auditor, it’s my responsibility to do as much work up front as possible. This means, having all the documentation that’s required available to me and ready for assessing, plenty of time before the date of the audit. This gives me time to review and evaluate, whilst putting a list of questions together to address any initially apparent gaps. This way, both parties are using their time on the call effectively and efficiently.
Secondly, adapting my life now to be a virtual auditor means that flexibility is what you might call the, ‘Name of the Game’. Now, by this I mean the sort of attitude that believes in ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way’. This is where the word ‘online’ really is a multitude of things. From a simple two-way phone call to a full-blown video conference scenario – both can work perfectly.
There are however, certain elements of an ISO standard that prove difficult to audit remotely. An example here would be in physical security aspect of the ISO 27001 Information Security Management Standard… This, surprise surprise, is again where the technology that both you and the client have, is your friend. It’s important that neither yourself or your client consider the screen separating you to be a barrier to a successful audit. It’s not. It could be – but that’s the case with physical audits too! It all depends on what you make of it.
It’s essential that I also mention that a remote audit shouldn’t be viewed as a diluted version of the face-to-face meeting you’re used to. With good planning and an open-minded approach, the remote audit experience, whilst different, shouldn’t be less valuable than the conventional audit experience.
Written by our Lead Assessor, Lisa Dancer.
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