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How to finish your audit schedule by December 31st

In Audit Schedule, Internal Auditing, Supplier Audit, Supplier Audits on November 28, 2012 at 5:41 am

There are 34 days until the end of 2012. You have four supplier audits and three internal audits to complete. Of course all but two of these audits are overdue. What should you do?

Well if I were Minerva McGonagall, I would let you borrow my time turner and you could just turn back time and perform all seven audits at the same time.

If your calendar is looks more like this one, then you only have 24 days before “the end” and completing those last seven audits might not be so important.

Other options that might be readily available to you include:

1. get some help

2. perform remote audits

3. reschedule some of the audits for next year

There are some great cartoons and jokes about doing more with less, but if you intend to complete seven audits before the end of the year you might need some help. There really isn’t any time left to train someone so that they are capable of conducting an effective audit by themselves. In fact, I expect training a new auditor to take at least 6 months before I think they are ready to work solo. Even if you are less demanding than I am, you still would need time for classroom training and shadowing a couple of audits. Therefore, the best I think you could hope for is one or two solo audits of the seven you need to complete.

Realistically, your only source of help would be auditors that are already trained and consultants. The last month of the year is historically very busy for everyone–especially Quality Assurance Auditors. Therefore, consultants will not be cheap and you should commit to any qualified consultants that are available without too much delay (then again, maybe they are available because they are not very good). If you have any in-house auditors that are already trained, do everything you can to get some of their time in the next few weeks.

Option 2 is to perform remote audits. This is a viable option for you to justify for a supplier with a great quality track record or suppliers in other countries. However, a remote audit is not the same as asking a supplier to complete a survey. ISO 19011:2011 provides some guidance specific to remote auditing in table B.1 of Annex B.

For a remote audit, you should still sample just as many records—if not more. You should conduct interviews by phone, Skype or some similar technology. You should analyze any available data to help identify which processes appear to be effective and which processes need to improve. For anyone that is doing this for the first time, I recommend using an audit checklist that is design for an on-site audit and attempting to complete all the questions remotely. Just remember, “Always request data.”

Option 3 is to reschedule some audits for January 2013. I have suggested this so many times to clients, but very few follow this advice. If your company is late in conducting some audits, the important thing to do is to document this, reschedule the audits, and take corrective action(s) to prevent it from recurrence. If you wait until January, you will have additional time to train an auditor as well. Finally, consultants historically have more time available in January than December.

In parallel with your efforts to catch-up on your schedule, I also recommend the following:

  1. Create a quality objective that measures “on-time delivery” of audits and audit reports. This is an effective metric for managing an audit program.
  2. Investigate the reasons for audits being overdue. If the occurrence was preventable, then I recommend initiating a CAPA. This will have two affects. First, your 3rd party auditors will see that you have identified the problem yourself and taken appropriate corrective action(s). If you also discuss this during a Management Review, this information can be used effectively to change the grading of an audit finding to a “minor” or to potentially eliminate the finding altogether. Second, it will ensure that this doesn’t happen again.

If you would like to learn more about scheduling of audits and managing audit programs, please subscribe to this blog and connect with me on LinkedIn. There will be several more blogs on these topics in preparation for a FREE webinar on February 14th. You can also connect with Brigid Glass on LinkedIn. She will be my co-instructor for three courses in April 2013.

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