Remote audits: offering flexibility, agility and business continuity
The 2020 COVID pandemic has created unprecedented turmoil and change for individuals and organizations across the world. Simple business continuity has become a challenge with workplaces closed, travel restricted, and IT staff tasked with finding a way to enable employees to work from home effectively and productively.
For companies that require certificates to operate, and for those that use management system standards to gain a competitive advantage, one issue this year has been staying certified when on-site audits are not an option.
Bureau Veritas’ expertise and experience with remote audits is enabling us to provide a digital alternative solution for clients looking to maintain their certifications and ensure compliance throughout the current crisis – and beyond.
What is a remote audit and which standards are eligible?
A remote audit is conducted when an offsite auditor reviews a company’s processes, policies, procedures and personnel in real time using technology, without travelling to the site. An auditor can conduct client interviews through video conferencing tools – such as Microsoft Teams – and see documents using screen sharing functionalities. In addition to interviews, the auditor can, of course, ask to see the workplace if required by scheme owner requirements, even while conducting the audit remotely.
Eligibility and remote auditing conditions are determined by the accreditation body of each certification scheme. Bureau Veritas is now accredited to perform more audits remotely than ever before. Most national accreditation bodies now allow ISO audits to be carried out remotely. This summer, SEDEX opened the new SVA (Sedex Virtual Assessment) program and remote audits became possible for Food schemes including BRC and FSSC. IATF for Automotive is the latest scheme to come on board, with remote audits allowed since the end of October.
Positive feedback from clients and auditors
Client interest in remote audits has, understandably, spiked this year, and we have performed more than ever before (more than 35,000 as of end-November 2020). However, the potential of this practical solution is not limited to lockdown situations. Client feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with 86% of clients who underwent a remote audit this year saying they would be interested in doing so again, even outside of a pandemic context and once restrictions are lifted. Auditors echoed this feedback, commenting that they could see a use for remote audits in normal conditions as a complement to onsite audits. A full 93% of auditors said they felt confident or neutral about carrying out remote audits.
The benefits of remote audits are clear to clients that experience them. During post-audit surveys, many praised this as a “great initiative” that was “just as effective as an on-site audit”. Several clients said “it was efficient and saved on travel costs”, and many noticed that “it moved faster” and “saved time”.
One satisfied client told us that their remote audit was “practical and objective, and facilitated the optimization of resources without affecting the rigor of the evaluation”. Another said that “Bureau Veritas offered excellent support during our company’s first remote audit. It was a good experience for us and much appreciated by our top management.”
Importantly, the potential of this solution post-COVID was clear to many, with numerous clients telling us that “remote auditing should be utilized more - even outside of a pandemic situation”. The feedback is clear: remote audits have a key role to play as we continue to weather the COVID crisis – and beyond!
To find out more about remote audits and the certifications for which they are available, visit our dedicated webpage or contact your local Bureau Veritas Certification team.