5 expert tips to ace your next compliance audit
When an organisation is being audited it can often be a daunting task and cause undue stress to all those involved. However, being audited is an essential part of running a large organisation and considering risks, opportunities and process improvements is central to improving safety outcomes.
This article will give tips on how to make your next audit less stressful for anyone tasked with managing an audit.
1. Review the scope of the audit
An audit scope is the extent and boundaries of an audit. Ultimately, it will advise the depth of the audit to be performed. By reviewing the scope you can get an idea of what parts of the organisation are going to be audited. This can include the job roles as well as the type of documentation/evidence that will be requested as part of the process.
2. Prepare in advance
By preparing in advance you can ensure that appropriate resources are available to assist with the audit preparation. This should include relevant personnel as well as ensuring that they have adequate time to prepare in advance. It’s a good idea to undertake a mock audit prior to the actual audit. This will give you an idea of where you are likely to be compliant as well as where there are potential gaps. Where there is a gap identified, attempt to close it out prior to the audit.
3. Ensure appropriate people involved in the process
When allocating staff to be involved in the audit ensure they are appropriate people.
Ensure that all staff allocated to the audit know their roles on the day and what is expected from them.
From the scope, you should know who will be required in order to be audited and only include the staff who have appropriate roles and can answer the questions to do with their roles.
Experienced personnel within your organisation should be involved in the audit process, e.g., if it’s a quality audit it makes sense that your Quality Manager will be involved.
4. Ensure documentation is available and suitably structured
Documentation to be audited is a vital part of the audit and makes up the majority of the audit process, this can include documented procedures as well as registers/forms that are completed as per the procedure.
Ensure documentation is available and filed so that it can be located easily. Being able to quickly provide the appropriate documentation to an auditor demonstrates a working knowledge of the process and will ultimately result in a faster, less stressful audit for all involved.
Software platforms, that track compliance documentation and assist in the implementation of written procedures, are a significant advantage when it comes to system implementation.
5. Review previous audits
By reviewing any previous audits you can get a great idea of the scope of the audit (see Point 1) as well as demonstrating evidence of corrective action management, generally a critical piece of an audit.
They provide details on how the organisation has performed historically, allowing you to double-check that you still have adequate systems with evidence of implementation in place.
Previous audits also assist in refining the documentation and personnel that are likely to be reviewed.
The majority of audits will result in a number of corrective actions – this is not a bad thing. These can be major, minor or opportunities for improvement. As part of the continual improvement of your organisation, audits should be welcomed as they provide an opportunity for a 3rd party to provide guidance and expertise on how you’re are running aspects of your organisation.