Remote Auditing During COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Risk Management in a Pandemic

 

Internal auditing in these unique times of Coronavirus is challenging as companies are faced with a whole new level of risk management during this pandemic. But there is a viable and safer option – remote auditing.

Managing Risks

Organizations need to perform internal audits to maintain ISO, AS, or IATF certifications. With COVID-19 risks, how do they keep their quality management system maintained, and manage overall risk?  Some companies are screening visitors to ensure they have not recently traveled abroad and are not exhibiting virus symptoms.  Others are not allowing any visitors, and, if possible, many are working from home.  It is becoming more and more difficult to proceed with “business as usual” with face-to-face meetings, let alone audits.

Remote Internal Audit Options

There are some options for maintaining the quality management system with internal audits during this time.  Especially when employees may be working remotely and you’re trying to maintain some level of business normalcy.  How much of your internal audits have historically been conducted in the conference room?  Why can’t this portion of the audit be conducted remotely, via web meeting, phone, and email (for records evidence)?  Auditing management review records, talking with the management team, evaluating internal audit records, corrective action records, performance data, and more can be done remotely.  Unless you’re in a business that is firefighting the pandemic, it is possible for resources to support remote internal audits.  

What About IATF 16949?

Some standards, like IATF 16949 will frown upon remote audits (not being onsite), but under the current context of the external factors affecting our world, don’t let audits lapse instead of trying to maintain the quality management system.  IATF 16949 also requires contingency planning “for continuity of supply in the event of any of the following: key equipment failures; interruption from externally provided products, processes, and services.”  Some of the audit can be performed remotely, and appropriately justified.  Those portions and processes (like production) that must be audited onsite, might use lighter sampling of fewer auditees and use internal resources versus external resources to perform that portion of the audit.  The internal resources might not even meet all the IATF competency requirements for internal auditors, but might be coached remotely by a qualified internal auditor to meet all expectations and requirements.

“These unusual times demand creative solutions, and the changing context of our business (social, pandemic, health, economic) requires companies to re-evaluate how they maintain “business as usual” as much as possible and practical. ” – Jim Lee, simpleQuE President

Every industry and company is under differing circumstances, but remote auditing is one option to help maintain the quality management system with resources that have the time to support the audits remotely.  The International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG) has just published their acceptance of virtual or remote audits for companies that are AS9100, AS9110 or AS9120 certified.

Our internal auditors will guide your business through the unique complexities and available options for remote auditing, knowing each business and industry has uncharted territory to navigate. Also consider that you could save on expenses for the reduced on-site audit time (hotel, meals, etc.).  The effects of the Coronavirus will reverberate throughout the global economy for at least the immediate future.  We hope all of you are on solid ground, but not grounded, and that you and your business remain healthy.

Note: Any deviations from original audit plans should be reviewed and documented in management review meeting(s), and updated on a revised audit schedule with justification for any changes. Internal audit reports should also document the unique changes or circumstances, especially if a remote audit was performed.  The audit report shouldn’t hide that.  It is not an ideal way to perform internal audits, but this is a temporary and practical solution to maintain a company’s quality management system.

 

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