Thursday, 23 December, 2021
Jennie Clark CQP MCQI, Director of Elliem Consulting and Vice Chair of CQI’s new Audit Special Interest Group, says the recently formed group will work to enhance the status of auditors.

Formed in May 2021, the CQI’s Audit Special Interest Group (SIG) has had an exceptionally busy and productive first six months. The level of interest at the time of the launch was high and it’s grown exponentially since then. I have been delighted to be part of that journey.

The initial workshop allowed us to help shape and define the purpose of and mission for the SIG and soon after that we held elections for the roles of Interim Chair, Interim Vice Chair and Interim Secretary and I was delighted to be elected as Interim Vice Chair. I’ve really enjoyed the challenges the role has given me, and working with William Rankin, who is the Interim Chair of the SIG, has been energising and encouraging – our discussions are always a tonic, particularly if it’s been a tough day.

Those of us attending the early meetings were asked to define what we wanted the SIG to achieve, and my input was a wish to change the focus and image of audit to one of positivity and a tool seen as driving forward improvement. Other points included:

  • seeking to learn from others collaboratively, sharing knowledge, skills and good practice with other audit professionals
  • being a reliable information source for audit groups globally, with the creation of a social platform where auditors/quality consultants can belong to, share their experiences, and learn from each other without fear or bias, despite their locations or organisations (IAA, CQI/IRCA, ASQ, and so on)
  • the promotion of understanding and practice of management system standards (MSS) and auditing
  • enhancing the status of auditors across disciplines as a result of the value they add to businesses through their work
  • improvement in the effectiveness of auditing techniques, and ensuring these are up to date.

Our workshops have had global attendance and generated some really useful debate and thought leadership. Remote audit was quickly identified as our ‘go to’ topic for the initial focus of the SIG, and the launch of our survey on 29 July brought in more than 150 valued responses from a wide range of auditors operating in different countries, sectors and disciplines. Feedback from the survey, which sought to evaluate thinking on a range of issues, will help shape future work undertaken by the SIG and provided a really sound insight for the SIG to work with going forward. As I mentioned earlier, I was delighted to be able to present a summary of the outcomes at our World Quality Week event on 8 November.

In late October, the SIG launched its own page on LinkedIn and this has allowed the work of the group to be shared on a wider platform. I’m one of the managers of the LinkedIn page and it’s been really rewarding to see the membership grow and with it the range and depth of topics that are being contributed. With more than 150 people now linked up to the SIG through this route, we have seen yet more global engagement and some really good debate being sparked – providing yet more food for thought for the future.

Timed to coincide with World Quality Week, we ran our first webinar on 8 November, showcasing thoughts from around the globe with a central theme of remote audit. SIG Chair William Rankin chaired the event and contributions from SIG members put a very personal perspective on the topic. We hosted a second webinar in December, bringing to the table more input on remote audit, and considering how audit can provide businesses with insight on risk.

I knew the SIG was needed, but I’ve been blown away by the energy that has come from the members and the really global nature of that membership. The work to date has been incredible and seeing over 300 people sign up for our first webinar gave me the thumbs up for the work we are doing. The group has a huge sense of purpose and vibrancy and I’m really looking forward to the work ahead. We live in changing times and it’s vital that audit keeps pace with the world in which we live and work, wherever that is. The SIG has so much to offer and an incredible enthusiasm to really drive forward change and thinking, and I am proud to be the current Interim Vice Chair.