The New Evolution of ISO Lead Auditor Training
We all have a lot of experience of the new normal. We have the experience of washing our hands, keeping our distance, being at home, living with partners remote working, children experiencing remote learning, and, yes, remote working ourselves. It's not a huge leap to realize that pretty much everything has been delivered remotely and that includes ISO auditing. This means it's crucial to update the approach, content, and delivery of ISO lead auditor training.
ISO Remote Audits Are Extremely Effective
Remote auditing can be delivered extremely effectively – its like anything, you review it, you define it, and you create the solution to be as good or better than in-person auditing. You develop the processes, implement controls, and do what you need to do to ensure that when delivered, it is every bit as good as you designed. Remote auditing can be every bit as good as in-person auditing.
Changing approach in a process (going from in-person to remote) often changes the compromises. Some things that were good with in-person are not so good (even poor) with remote. And some things that we did not realize were not great with in-person become excellent with remote. The achievable goal is to make sure that the overall outcome is better, and this is the case with remote auditing.
The Future of Remote Auditing for ISO
But there is an even better solution, a better approach to auditing. Better than in-person auditing and better than remote auditing. The solution that is likely to be the future in ISO auditing is a hybrid. Both in-person and remote auditing.
Probably the big driver for this will be the cost savings associated with lack of travel expenses. Now organizations realize that remote auditing works, and they do not have to pay expenses they are likely to default to this. Whereas in the past organizations would only select local auditors because of travel expenses, they can now focus on ensuring access to great auditors – and they can still please their management. Hybrid approaches are bound to be the new norm.
Adding Remote Scenarios to ISO Lead Auditor Training
Given the potential importance of remote auditing in the future, then should not it be part of auditor training? Yes. It should. The key auditor training accreditation organizations are IRCA and EG. They set curriculum, training delivery and management system requirements for organizations to adopt in exchange for recognition. IRCA is known to focus on auditing content, training professionalism and effectiveness, and strong training development and support processes. EG has a lot of different categories of auditor training courses. Neither has given any indication that they recognize this, yet although it's likely they would both say that the content development, while it must meet minimum requirements is up to the organization to include in training. Good luck trying to find a lead auditor training class that will seriously teach you to do remote auditing.
Does remote auditing have an impact on how auditing is conducted to such a degree that training should be updated? Here are a couple of examples of why you need to have these topics included in your training.
Social interaction as a part of auditing.
The lead auditor is responsible for everything in the audit, starting with the pleasant incidental conversation when first meeting. There may not be a conversation between the reception area and the conference room, but the lead auditor must handle the interaction from the initial meeting on the video conference till everyone shows up and pleasantries and dispensed with. They are different and thinking about them before they happen to you is important for success.
Scheduling and tools.
Planning a schedule for a remote audit presents several challenges. Timing is always a challenge, but because the approach is different, the allowances you make for an in-person audit may not be appropriate. Some things can be completed quicker, and others might take longer. There are also logistical challenges – what communications tools are you going to use, are you going to test them, what are the impacts on security and do risks change (yes, they do). Can the client handle multiple auditors from a technical perspective as well as a resource perspective? And finally, how do we bring all of this together in planning and scheduling for a hybrid solution. These things are going to affect the tools used, the approach and the outcome.
ISO Auditor Training Courses Must Address the New Hybrid Approach
A good training class is going to include discussion of these and many other points as the remote concept is threaded through out the training. A couple of PowerPoint slides is not going to cut it. And your instructor needs to be experienced with both approaches and positive about them.
This is the future of auditing and it's high time that training caught up.
Cavendish Scott is an IRCA Approved Training Partner and has been working with ISO for over 35 years. We've got remote ISO auditing, consulting projects and training available.