Having like the rest of the UK gone into Lockdown in March 2020, it seems incredible that in a few weeks’ time it will be almost a year since a lot of our auditors have carried out a site-based audit. Our industry is incredibly fortunate that generally speaking a lot of what we are auditing can be carried out remotely.
Remote based auditing has become the industry standard during the pandemic with technology making the need to travel less important, meetings on Zoom/Teams combined with document sharing via either SharePoint or a cloud drive have almost become the norm. It’s been amazing to see how people have adapted their businesses to be able to accommodate this.
It’s important to consider what type of industry the company you are auditing are in, many businesses are now multi-site and have either required multiple visits or else have been doing some kind of conferencing even with an onsite visit. Other more paper-based firms are harder to audit remotely and it is a very different scenario when visiting an organisation that manufactures. Organisations involved with milling, drilling, welding etc. where you can physically see the creation process and many of the processes are followed and reviewed “on the shop floor” are a lot easier to audit onsite although some organisations are now taking video evidence to show the auditor what is happening there.
There is also the matter of the personal touch, it’s a lot easier to build a relationship face to face and to get to know the organisation fully by walking around and asking different people questions / observing the good practices they are doing that they might not have “evidence” for. Given the situation the technology has helped to continue certification under huge restrictions and has opened up options for the future.
In these days where organisations are being encouraged to be more environmentally conscious (especially when looking at the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System) a reduction in transport and travel should be considered as we all look forward to the eventual end of this terrible pandemic. A mix of onsite and remote audits could bring the personal touch and also help to reduce environmental impacts on the country.