Published: 29 May 2020

Dean Blevins, CQP MCQI, Product Quality Specialist at Almac Group reveals what was discussed at the latest CQI Northern Ireland branch event on remote auditing. 

On Tuesday 5 May 2020, the CQI’s Northern Ireland branch hosted an online webinar called ‘Remote Auditing – A 360 Degree Perspective’.   

The branch event, which was open to all CQI and IRCA members, proved to be an excellent opportunity for enabling cross-network relations as well as reaching out to the international CQI community. Approximately 180 members registered to attend, including some members from New Zealand and the USA.  

The webinar was led by three industry subject matter experts, Tony Duff, Director at System Certification Services, Nigel Williamson, Regional Assessor at NQA, and Damien McManus, Managing Director at ITS Plant Tech. 

It focused on remote auditing from three different perspectives – the certification body, the auditor and the auditee. The event also looked at key regulatory requirements and industry expectations during the current Covid-19 global pandemic. This gave attendees three different points of view for remote auditing, including different types of challenges met by each party, how they prepare for an audit from all three perspectives and how they ensure an audit runs efficiently, while remaining effective in achieving the desired end result. 

This was a good learning opportunity for attendees as it allowed everyone to see how an audit is conducted, from the planning stage through to completion, from a point of view that they may not be familiar with. It allowed them to take this learning and apply it within their own quality system to ensure remote auditing is effective and efficient in their organisation.

The hosts shared their wealth of knowledge and first-hand experience in conducting and receiving remote audits. The topics they covered included audit preparation, the effectiveness of remote auditing, the risks involved, contingency planning, expectations versus reality of remote audits, constraints of remote auditing and the key learnings we can take away on completion of an audit.

Key learnings taken away from the event was the importance of being properly prepared for a remote audit, including contingency planning in case of any technology issues. Although auditors are not able to physically see the facilities, it is vitally important to ensure the audit is effective and covers all key topics to ensure product quality is maintained and quality systems are in compliance with the relevant regulatory standard. 

The webinar also looked at how aspects of auditing have changed recently and how they may change even more due to the Covid-19 pandemic, in addition to the challenges it presents within the quality profession across various industries. 

The feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive, with a great appreciation for the valuable insight into remote auditing during such challenging times.  Some of the feedback received from attendees included comments such as, “useful share of knowledge to enable self-improvement and learn from other perspectives”, “very informative event and shows reaction to the current climate”, “excellent coverage of both auditor and auditee experience”, and “good opportunity to learn from the experience of others”. 

The CQI Northern Ireland branch will be hosting further webinars over the coming months, details will be posted on the relevant LinkedIn group pages. Please also look at the CQI’s event calendar - quality.org/events-calendar.