Auditing Made Easy
Are Safety audits or compliance audits the bane of your life?
Do you spend hours writing up audit reports? Or do you dread receiving yours?
Do you struggle with using Microsoft Word or Excel to complete your audits?
Do you create an endless stream of paper based reports?
Do you have to post reports out to others?
Does analysing audit reports across multiple locations take up a lot of your time?
How do you track actions taken?
If you or anyone else you know has responsibility for either completing Safety audits, or following up on the audit report, you will know just how time consuming and frustrating this can be.
It doesn’t matter what type of Safety or compliance audit you are dealing with, whether they are Health & Safety, Food Safety, Fire Safety or just about anything else. They all take time to prepare, time to write up, and time to follow through with actions.
Many still use Microsoft word or Excel to create and follow through on reports, but this does tend to create an endless paper trail of documents to be produced and followed through with. Then there’s the challenge of including photographs or important documents that may be relevant in the findings, plus the printing, binding, and off to the post box!
And what about the audit score? Everyone gets fixated with percentage results, but are they the best way? Does a score of 99% actually mean the result is great? Maybe, but what if the 1% was the most serious or significant risk or hazard? Maybe not so good then eh?
If you operate across multiple sites and multiple locations, how easy is it to analyse all of the outcomes and track progress, how do you prepare board level reports, or create dashboards to show compliance?
What about managing outstanding actions, are they overdue, who did what and when?
These are all common issues faced by us all, and we have got some exciting stuff to share with you, want to know more then read on?
What is an audit?
So what is an audit? In simple terms, it’s a systematic evaluation of an organisation’s processes.
Why do we need it? The purpose of an audit is to provide a “true and fair” view of the standard of compliance being audited, so for safety audits this could be separate reports covering food safety, health and safety or fire safety, or just one simple report covering them all!
Who can do an audit? Well that’s easy, anyone. There tend to be two main categories that are used these are commonly referred to as ‘internal audits’ which are those carried out by personnel within the organisation, and ‘external audits’ which are those carried out by either someone who is external to that location (but still part of the organisation) or an independent third party organisation such as us at DDS! If you are carrying out audits in some specialist areas you may also need to be ‘competent’, this is especially true in areas such as food safety, fire safety and health and safety.
Why bother, because audits just create more paperwork don’t they? Good question, and I’m sure that most of us at some time will have been on the receiving end of someone in an anorak, and a chunky report that picks holes in issues that you were already aware of. But that’s not what a good audit is really all about. Audits are a really good way of monitoring your organisations compliance, helping to drive continual improvement, and most of all a great way of sharing best practice and learning, so they are a really good tool – used the right way.
So What Makes a Good Audit?
A good audit needs to show a “true and fair” view of the safety compliance areas being assessed. As we have said previously % scores give an indication of compliance, but if you consider the basics of risk assessment to estimate the risk we need to consider two things.
- How likely something is to go wrong (probability) and,
- how serious the outcome could be (impact)?
So if we think about audit outcomes in terms of risk a far clearer and simpler way is to break answers down into three core categories using a traffic light style system such as:
- Red; for high risk, or serious hazards, or where there may be a significant exposure
- Amber; for issues that need attention, because if they aren’t addressed they could become major issues
- Green; generally, for good compliance, or where there are really minor issues
And then decide what a reasonable priority in terms of time required to action the issue identified, for example
- Within a week
- Within a month
- Within three months
- Within six months, or longer
What Makes Good Audit Compliance System?
There are many facets to a good compliance audit system, but these are some of the key points you may wish to consider:
- Simple to operate,
- Provide clear and relevant guidance to both the auditor and the persons receiving the reports,
- Ability to be updated and capture all relevant information,
- Show reports in ‘real time’
- Full audit trail to show who did what and when,
- Enable analysis of multiple sites or locations
- Enable analysis across single or multiple disciplines
- Show recipient progress in terms of action taken
- And… a really good system will send reminders to recipients when things are overdue!
What are the Benefits of an Effective Audit Programme?
So take a snapshot of your organisation at this moment in time, and a good audit will show you where you are now, how you comply to your company standards or the law, and show a path towards addressing any shortfalls you may have.
It can be the ‘pat on the back’ that may be well deserved for everyone pulling together as a team, or the ‘early warning’ signals to shout out loud that something needs to happen.
A good audit programme can, and will help businesses to improve compliance standards; whatever is being audited, and contributes effectively towards increased sales, profitability, customer satisfaction, and staff morale.
Oh still here? Interested in what’s next?
At DDS we are a specialist compliance management company who provide robust and innovative solutions to businesses and organisations, part of what we do is provide a powerful audit compliance solution covering fire safety, health and safety, and food safety (but just about anything else too).
We have been operating in the field of compliance for far too many years to mention, and so not only have we earned the stripes and war-wounds whilst auditing ourselves, we have developed our award-winning PYRAMID™ online risk management system that is used by many others, ranging from SMEs through to large international multi-site operations.
Our PYRAMID™ online risk management system is web based, so no software to install, nothing to break. We have a set audit style template with traffic light style outcomes, that can be applied to any audit template or question set you want. So if you want a simple 15 question in house monthly check, or a 300 question four-day site inspection, both are equally at home!
We have a separate auditing mobile app that allows audits to be written up on the go, without any Wi-Fi or internet connection, and it talks to the main web based system as and when you want it to, or get in range of Wi-Fi.
The system allows users to upload supporting documentation, and capture photos. It even has separate facilities and housekeeping indicators so if you want to draw off a separate report for either of these functions detailing the issues specific to these, it’s all done!
When the report is finished, it can be released and sent electronically to the end users, so no more paper trail.
And, if you are reporting on multiple sites there’s a powerful summary tool that enables you to analyse results at the click of a button – summary report done! No more hours of number crunching required.
For the recipient, PYRAMID™ provides real time reporting so if remedial actions aren’t updated within the recommended timescales you can receive a gentle reminder, and for senior management scheduled compliance reports on how progress is being made.
Finally, for reviews no need to start again, there’s a powerful ‘audit preparation report’ function within the system that you can use to see exactly who’s done what since the last audit, so you can check on remedial actions taken rather than start again!
Interested? Then please do not hesitate to drop us an email or give us a call, we’d love to hear from you. We are a friendly bunch so always ready for a good chat and will listen carefully to your needs to see how we can help.
What are you waiting for?