As an auditor have you ever felt frustrated by the deliberate attempts to stall/sidetrack/confuse the auditor?
Our company has been auditing for more than 20 years, and we’ve experienced first hand clients throwing a raft of cleverly disguised roadblocks at our audit team in an attempt to throw them off track.
The purpose of writing this blog article is to help auditors successfully navigate these obstacles and roadblocks, adopted by more experienced Auditees. This is part one of a three part series, and this first blog discusses time-wasting tactics.
Auditees know from experience that Auditors are working to a limited timeframe, so they will throw obstacles in your path to slow you down or sometimes even halt your progress. You need to be persistent to fend off these obstacles and distractions.
Here Are Some Of The Ways People Attempt To De-Rail Our Carefully Laid Audit Plans
- Inductions Our auditors arrive on time to find they have to undertake a 45 minute induction process, which was conveniently not mentioned during the pre-audit discussions and/or planning activities.
- Late arrivals Senior members of the management team and operational staff required for the opening meeting arrive late, or not at all.
- Lengthy guided tours The management team arranges a slow and detailed guided tour of the facility, avoiding the key areas needed to be assessed and included in the scope of work.
- A long relaxing lunch Senior management schedules a long lunch break, and may even try to take you away from the site, when you start asking searching questions.
- Early closeout Senior management and operations staff request an early closeout meeting, or even fail to attend. This enables them to challenge the findings later, once the report is tabled.
Winning Strategies To Keep You On Top
Careful planning is your key weapon to combat time-wasting tactics. We routinely provide our clients with a detailed audit plan prior to the audit, outlining items like:
- The commencement time of the audit. This way, the auditee is warned in advance of what time you are arriving and communication is clear about when you will start the audit, not the lengthy induction.
- Duration of the audit. It’s always best to give the timeframe in advance. Emphasize that this is the amount of time you need to be set aside by the auditee to enable the audit task to be completed – and that any breaks taken or tours offered will be outside that timeframe and will need to be accounted for.
- Scope of work to be performed. While it seems obvious, let the auditee know in advance what it is you are doing and what your work will cover. This way there is no confusion once work has commenced.
- The specific processes to be audited. Make sure the auditee is crystal clear about the specific processes that are to be audited. This will prevent excuses on the day about not being aware of the paperwork, records and other materials you need to examine.
- Details of management and staff who will be required to participate. Send a list of the people you will need to engage with over the audit process. This will help you avoid the situation where those staff members disappear for “lunch” or important meetings (off site of course) when you need them most.
There are few things more frustrating than the deliberate disruption of your audit time. Your ability to quickly navigate these roadblocks lies in communication and planning. Be upfront, be clear and be firm with Auditees. This will make the road to Audit completion much smoother for all.