Last week GFSI published their new benchmarking guidelines, which now allows for remote auditing.
As we now start to move into the new norm, remote auditing is most likely here to stay. Although there’s not quite like face-to-face contact, remote auditing does have many benefits, including reduction in cost from time and travel and the secondary benefit that, that produces for the environment.
In this article, we’re going to look at the software and hardware that we need to be able to carry out remote audits effectively.
Software for Remote Audits
In order to be able to carry out a remote audit, the site and the auditor need to have access to the same live streaming software.
There are two main requirements to do an audit, which are:
- Video conferencing
- Screen share
So, let’s look at what software options there are out there, that are typically used for conferencing.
A free account with Microsoft Teams will allow you to have online meetings and share your screen.
If you want to record the audit though, you’ll need a paid account. A free account is totally sufficient to carry out an audit, as it allows video conferencing and screen share. Available on mobile.
The newbie on the scene, but taking the world by storm as the number one for video conferencing and training. Zoom has so many additional features which are not available on Teams, such as break out rooms, voting and lots more. Available on mobile.
There are many products available through LogMeIn, such as GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar and even GoToTraining. There’s no free account option though and these products have more features than you would really need for just auditing. All available on mobile.
Again, there’s a free option to Adobe Connect and although we’ve not used it ourselves, it looks really good. There are a lot of features like Zoom. But knowing Adobe, it’s probably one that you’d need to spend quite some time learning before you could use it. And for auditing, it’s very likely just too complicated and feature heavy.
There are also some other options, which most of us have access to anyway on our mobiles.
If you and the auditor has an iphone then you could use FaceTime. However, this doesn’t allow screen sharing.
WhatsApp has a video feature, and you can screen share. You can actually download WhatsApp onto your PC. But that obviously means that you need to get IT to allow you to do that and given WhatsApp track record on security I’m not sure that’s an option. Apparently (according to Steph our IT boffin) WhatsApp has end-to-end encryption, so if this is enabled it’s secure.
Facebook Messenger is actually really good. You can connect more than two people together, so if you want to bring others into the audit at various times, like engineering for example, you can do that. Plus, you can screen share and because it’s available on the PC, you can also share at a size that is visible. However, security is going to be an issue again.
Carrying out a paperwork audit is fairly straight forward, as both parties can sit at their desks with access to the necessary video conferencing software and internet access.
By sharing a screen, you can both review procedures.
But reviewing records is a little bit more tricky, unless you’re up for scanning tons of paperwork. The easiest way to do it, is to hold up records to the camera, but the auditor will need to be able to see the record at a size that is possible to read. So, using software that works on a PC is a must. Which rules out FaceTime, WhatsApp and Messenger if your IT department won’t allow it.
The most difficult part of the audit to do, is the practical element. Many sites don’t have a wifi signal in the factory and so that’s not an option. Which means using a mobile (if you can get signal in the factory) is the best option.
You can get holders for mobiles which allow you to attach your phone to your chest or your head (if you don’t mind looking a bit odd).
If you do have the luxury of having wifi in the factory, you can get some really cool kit that will help with this, as seen on Inside the Factory at the Walkers factory in Leicester.
We hope that’s helpful. We’re sure you’ve got loads of remote auditing ideas too, as to how we can keep this simple and cost effective. If you do, please share your ideas with your fellow techies, by adding them to the comments box at the bottom of this article.