Man Using Digital Tools for Remote QHSE Auditing

(Video Series 5/5) The Future of QHSE Auditing

The Future of QHSE Auditing

In this video series, Peter Rogers from Mango talks with compliance experts from around the world about the future of QHSE auditing and whether or not they will continue to use remote audits.

With many countries around the world still experiencing a lockdown situation due to the ongoing global health pandemic, remote auditing is becoming more and more important.

You can find a transcript of the discussions below the video.

The Future of QHSE Auditing

Question:
“When the ‘new normal’ returns, will you continue to conduct remote audits?”

Andrew, IRM Systems, Australia

Internal audit, second party auditor – I certainly think it will be. Most of the auditees and the people on the other end of the audit have been a bit surprised how well it’s worked as well.

Certification audits – there’s different rules by bodies above some of the certification bodies that would have an influence on that. Having said that, I have been involved in some third-party audits and they’re working quite effectively as well, I guess time will tell on that side.

There might be some efficiencies and extra value that could come out of the limited audit time they typically have on-site. I wouldn’t see it as a negative or a loss, even some of these certification bodies, if they could demonstrate there are risks and opportunities in a remote audit process. For example, I know that a lot of the water bodies are certified, that maybe there’s extra value they could get out of the allocated audit time by, again, visiting more sites, interviewing more people.

As long as it’s done in a way that is not trying to cheapen the audit program itself. If it’s done with that hat on to say, ‘how can we actually get more value out of its audit program?” I think it definitely could.

Gary, QSM, Australia

Certainly, we will. I think our processes are improving, in terms of how we go about doing that.

We made a decision probably about 18 months ago, we wouldn’t do remote audits unless the clients were on Mango. That was really because we did an audit with somebody on a paper based spreadsheet system, and it was a little bit of a nightmare in terms of them floundering around getting the information or the evidence ready for the actual audit. There will always be something that comes up during the course of that audit, whereby they thought they had the information ready, but it wasn’t actually the right information, so then they go and stumble around in a filing cabinet and so forth.

We made that commercial decision that really you have to be online and with Mango to do a remote audit, and the price reflected that so it’s worked pretty well.

Mark, Business Basics, Australia

That’ll depend a lot on the certification bodies.

We’ll have a mix of people going out and doing on site and remote work. I think when we do the document reviews, a lot of that will be done remotely. There still will be an element of having to turn up on site to actually see that the excavation that they’re digging is being dug the right way, the SWMS and controls are in place, but I think that documentation review will be done remotely a lot more.

As long as the certification bodies stay on board with that, I think a lot of that travel will go away. Things where, someone may have a satellite office in Broken Hill, that’s just one guy doing a bit of work, whereas previously, we had to turn up to that site again to look at his computer, now that we can see everything from remotely, I think that stuff will go away.

I think they’ll be more accommodating of doing those sorts of things. But I think there will always be that on-site, particularly for construction work and manufacturing industry, where you want to make sure the controls are in place. But the documentation review, I think that’ll stick around as remote for a very, very long time.

Chris, FQM, United Kingdom

Absolutely, 100%.

Actually, we’ve started serving clients that we’ve been working with and asking them how they felt, not all of them, we’ve probably spoken to about 20% of them to ask their feeling of doing a remote auditing, how it felt for them individually, how it felt for their business, so absolutely, we will continue to do remote auditing.

Interestingly, I had a chat with someone at UKAS last week, I asked a question about continuing remote audit from a certification body point of view, and the response I got was that – a terminology used in the UK – ‘you are pushing on an open door’ meaning they are seriously considering continuing with it.

Peter, Mango, New Zealand

I think the genie is out of the bottle, they can’t put it back in.

We’ve just gone through our 9000 and 27000 audit and we’ve experienced being remote auditor, and I think the quality of the auditing is good. A lot of the reasons was because you can do a lot of that ‘dog work’, you can look at the records, without the pressure of looking over people’s shoulders.

They come up with a really good questions, that they want you to be able to demonstrate compliance to your own processes. I think it was really, really good.

One comment we did make was saying, ‘why did you just order the system? Why didn’t you speak to the staff?’ And they said, ‘Oh, it’s easier when we’re on site.’ And we said, ‘actually, for our type of business, the management just walk out of the meeting room, and we can send all the developers in and you can ask them in an open and frank environment,’ They’re going to take that on board and do that next audit.

I think the genies out of the bottle on remote auditing, the audit is as good as a normal audit, in that case, why would you go backwards?

Nicholas, SRM, South Africa

Absolutely. One of the things that we’ve been focusing on as a business is helping clients to manage their compliance remotely, so definitely documentation audits will be done online, it cuts down on travel, it cuts down on risk.

If we have to do audits at a client site per month, we’ll review documents in one of the audits, and then we will send somebody to site to review physical site conditions where it is an absolute necessity.

We enjoy remote auditing, there are some significant benefits to it. I think as humanity adapts to more online technology, I think we’ve got to make sure that we don’t lose the essence of communication between people because a lot of communication is nonverbal, and then, obviously, physical site conditions do need to be audited.

Michael, Momentum Safety and Ergonomics

I’d say partially, for sure.

If it’s simply verifying documents and what have you, there’s really no reason to go into an office. If the clients close by, I probably would prefer the looking at processes and plant to be done in person as a preference, but if they’re any distance away, I think that option of remote auditing is a very reasonable one.

Jodie, Penarth, United Kingdom

I imagine that we will continue to conduct a number of audits on a remote basis. There are advantages to doing some face to face audits but I don’t think that remote audits will disappear completely.

Some of the certification bodies that we’re talking to, are saying that even on an ongoing basis, they expect there to be a 60/40 split going forward. Which is quite huge when you think about the implications for the number of journeys that the assessors will no longer be doing. And I think if the certification bodies are working towards a 60/40 split, then we owe it to our clients to be to be delivering the same solution so that they know how it feels to

John, Many Caps, New Zealand

Yeah, absolutely, there’s no reason why you can’t. We didn’t think of anything that we couldn’t audit.

If the customer is using a system that’s capable, allowing you to remote audit, obviously, it’s a lot easier, that’s the beauty of Mango it’s all online. If you want to look at what documentation is you pull up the documentation in real time.

If you’re pulling it out of a cabinet or folder and trying to hold a camera close to it, that’s a little bit trickier, but I definitely think remote auditing has got its place, and I haven’t come across anything that will stop me doing it.

At the end of the day, you’re interviewing people and asking people what they’re doing, and verifying that against the process. So even if it’s an old sale system, you could always get them to send the stuff to you, it’s just a little harder to do.

Key Points

  1. Remote Auditing is here to stay.
  2. Certification bodies are agreeing that they continue.
    There are time and costs savings.
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