Looking Under the Bonnet
Let us tell you what an audit isn’t. It’s not a stick to beat you with. It’s not a box-ticking exercise nor is it an attempt to catch you out by looking in every dark corner. It doesn’t lay blame at any individual’s door. It’s not something you should have to prepare for in a panic, if you’re running around like a headless chicken a week before the auditor arrives, then you’re not doing it right. And an audit isn’t about aiming for a perfect score - if you pass every time with no non-conformities then you’re either absolutely perfect (in which case, can we have some tips?) or the auditor isn’t actually looking. You’re paying an auditor your business’ hard earned money, you want to get value for their service. You wouldn’t take your car in for its MOT and not expect a thorough check before certifying it as road safe, would you?
So what should an audit be then? An open conversation about business processes and systems to identify problems and opportunities for improvement. It’s the eyes and ears of the leadership team and a chance for the rest of the business to raise a red flag before the dam breaks. And an auditor should not appear on the battlefield once it’s all over and bayonet the wounded. A good auditor should be viewed more like a Royal Marine - an elite soldier deployed on your behalf to run overt (not covert) ops.
That’s it. Simples.
Everyone in your business carries an invisible bag filled with their experiences, grievances, complaints and opinions on everything from how the business is fairing right down to who is stealing the milk in the fridge. They may think they have retained some objectivity but chances are, they haven’t. Having one of our independent consultants come in and cast an unbiased eye over operations means you’re more likely to get a truer State of the Nation report.
As famously said: “Time. Cost. Quality. You can only pick two.” If no one is checking the quality of something, we simple humans will automatically revert to the other two options. That’s why it’s so important to have someone whose only job and only concern is the quality side - your independent consultant cannot be distracted by time or cost concerns so will be sure to hold you, your suppliers and your entire supply chain to the highest quality standard.
How we do it:
We follow the recognised best practice for auditing, but we bring our own experience to the table. We know what does and doesn’t matter, when the little things are actually tips of Titanic icebergs and when disasters are just hyperbole. This wealth of experience means we can alter and tailor the audit service depending on the type of audit and the nature and culture of the organisation being audited.
If you’re a mid-sized, ISO-driven, well-structured organisation where everyone is used to and secretly enjoys the formal audit process, we can keep the continuity of your current structure and regimen. But if you’re a micro-business with a more informal vibe and not used to the audit process, we can tone down the scary bits and ease you in to the auditing world gently. However, it’s all very well and good auditing yourself, but sometimes you need to audit someone else - your suppliers. We can step up and represent you and your business in this arena with a formal and consistent approach across all suppliers. This enables you to compare the results and make the best decisions for your supply chain.
Our audit services can generally be put into two camps. Either we set up an audit programme to facilitate and/or run audits focused on your problems, changes, risks and criticality. Or, you already know what audits you require and you just need a hand getting them done.
Whether it’s a planned schedule or a more targeted assist, we follow the standard audit methodology: we establish the scope, objectives and criteria for the audit, create an audit plan, engage with the host organisation and conduct the audit (either on site, remotely or a blend of both). We use our mantra of conversation, observation, documentation and data in order to perform the audit and generate findings. These findings could be positive or negative and usually include a mix of non-conformities, opportunities for improvement, risks, other areas of concern and recognition of good practice.
Of course, every audit plan differs because every scenario is different. Our role is to make sure the right people, in the right areas, are asked the right questions in order to get the responses you need to meet the audit objective. By the end of it, we want you coming out feeling thoroughly examined, a little bit disheveled but overall satisfied that we’ve investigated the relevent aspects of your business and provided you with the assurance (or ammunition) that you were looking for.
- Create the audit programme.
- Provide and/or co-ordinate auditors.
- Make sure the audits happen.
- Monitor standard of audits.
- Find out what your people do and think.
- Check your compliance with standards.
- Ensure processes are followed.
- Challenge: are processes effective & efficient?
- Encourage fact-based improvements.
- Pull it all together in a usable report.
- Professionally represent your organisation.
- Confirm standards and contract requirements are met.
- Investigate any concerns or risks.
- See what makes your suppliers tick.
- Find ways to help them to help you.
- Pull it all together in a usable report.
- Large network of managed consultants.
- We’re an SME, too, we know what it’s like!
- Industry-specific, technical know-how, business intelligence.
- Scalable project management services.
- Toolbox like a Tardis.
- ISO 9001 certified.
Speak with a QFactorial expert