Conducting external or third party audits typically involves physical site inspections and face-to-face interviews, however QRMC is experienced in conducting audits remotely when required.
The ISO 9001 Auditing Practices Group provide direction in relation to remote auditing, and guidance notes on the subject (ISO 9001 Auditing Practices Group on Remote Audits, Edition 1 2020-04-16) cites the COVID-19 pandemic as one of the variety of reasons why an auditor may not be present on the site to complete an audit. This guidance recognises that current ICT tools (such as Zoom, MS Teams etc.) have made remote auditing a feasible option.
QRMC’s experience in auditing in a remote context confirms that virtual auditing is entirely feasible.
Audit Entry / Exit Meetings – Using commonly available on-line meeting tools, audit entry and exit meetings work well, even including the sharing of documents or presentations.
Document Review – This component of an audit also works very well remotely, as documents can easily be shared electronically.
Conducting interviews / discussions – This component works reasonably well in a remote format, especially if some testing of the remote access technology has been done prior to the audit. There is some disadvantage from the loss of direct interaction with the workplace environment in which the auditee operates, however this is not insurmountable, and in fact is negligible in cases where the auditor has visited the site physically in the past.
Site Inspections – This is the component of the audit most heavily impacted in virtual auditing, as the auditor cannot easily explore issues or follow leads as they would during a physical audit. However, with appropriate preparation before and focus during the audit, these difficulties are again not insurmountable.