Remote audits are often touted for their flexibility. However, they may be too flexible - because there is no consensus on the method the auditor should use. Technology is always one step ahead of standardization. In this series of articles, we look at the various steps for conducting audits remotely. Today, we take a closer look at the methods used to perform remote audits.

This is part three of a seven-part article series on remote audits:

At this point in time, there is no harmonized approach to remote audit procedures. One of the few internationally recognized documents is MD 4:2018 from the International Accreditation Forum. However, the focus here is on the use of ICT for audit purposes. As such, the document is generic in nature and in no way represents a protocol or methodology for remote audits. Another resource published in April 2020 is the ISO 9001 Auditing Practices Group guide.

Roughly, we can distinguish between audits that are done completely remotely and audits that are only partially remote. The decision for one or the other variant must be co-determined by the risk assessment.

The advantage of audits that are partially remote is that the audit becomes a multi-stage process. Typically, there is a first phase that focuses on documentation and record keeping that can be done remotely, and a second phase on site that focuses on the operational side and the condition of the infrastructure and facilities.

At DQS, we have developed a process with three or four stages:

  • i-Assessment: DQS has developed its own tool that allows organizations to perform an intelligent self-assessment that serves as a starting point for the remote audit. Results are recorded in an automatically generated report.
  • DocView: Submit documentation and records for a structured review. Our infrastructure meets the highest level of privacy and confidentiality.
  • Video-based interviews and site tour: meet your personal auditor online for the video-based assessment. This stage includes a live site tour and interviews based on the results of the i-Assessment and.
  • On-site validation (optional in some cases): A brief and focused on-site audit to validate the results of the previous stages.

Learn more about our Enhanced Remote Audit (ERA) process here. In the next article, we will look at the technological component of the remote audit.

Dr. Thijs Willaert

Dr. Thijs Willaert is Head of Marketing & Communications for the Sustainability and Food Safety segments. He is also an auditor for the external audit of sustainability reports. His areas of interest include sustainability management, sustainable procurement, and the digitalization of the audit landscape.