Part 3: Remote Audits – Determine the method
Remote audits can be a flexible solution to assess compliance with standards. However, as far as methodology is concerned, standardization will need to catch up with technology. In this series of articles, we are exploring the different steps of performing audits remotely. Today, we take a closer look at the various methods.
This is Part 3 of a seven-part series on remote auditing practices:
- Part 1 – Remote Audit Objectives
- Part 2 – Is a Remote Audit the Right Choice? The Risk Assessment
- Part 3 – Determine the Method
- Part 4 – Determine the Technology
- Part 5 – How to Prepare a Remote Audit
- Part 6 – Tips for Remote Audit Execution
- Part 7- Remote Audit Reporting & Follow-Up
At this point, there is no harmonized approach to remote auditing procedures. One of the few internationally recognized documents is MD 4:2018 of the International Accreditation Forum. However, its focus is the use of ICT for auditing purposes. As such, the document is generic in nature and constitutes by no means a remote auditing protocol or method. Another resource, published in April 2020, is the guidance of the ISO 9001 Auditing Practices Group.
Roughly, we can distinguish between audits that are done entirely remotely, and audits that are partially remote. This choice needs to be informed by the risk assessment.
The benefit of doing audits partially remote is that the audit becomes a staged process. Typically, it would have a first stage that focuses on documentation and record-keeping, which can easily be done remotely, and a second stage on-site which focuses on the operational side and the state of the infrastructure.
At DQS, we have developed a process with three or four stages:
- i-Assessment: DQS has developed a proprietary tool for organizations to conduct an intelligent self-assessment, which serves as the starting point for the remote audit.
- DocView: this is the documentation review stage
- Video-assisted interviews and site tour
- On-site validation (optional in some cases)