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.

Skype

Skype

Skype has been around for a while and is used by many companies already, as a form of internal communication. However, Skype is being replaced by Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams

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.

Zoom

Zoom

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.

Log Me In

LogMeIn

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.

Cisco Webex

Cisco Webex

Cisco Webex has a free account version which will allow you to screen share, but there’s a time limit of 50 minutes. Available on mobile.

Google Meet

Google Meet

Google Meet has screen share is available on the free account option. There’s no time limit at present, but from 30thh Sept 2020 this will go back to a 1 hour limit.

Adobe Connect

Adobe Connect

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.

FaceTime

If you and the auditor has an iphone then you could use FaceTime. However, this doesn’t allow screen sharing.

Facetime

WhatsApp

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.

Whatsapp

Facebook Messenger

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.

Facebook Messenger

Desktop auditing

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.

Practical auditing

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).

Mobile Phone Chest Holder
Mobile Phone Head Harness

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.

Realwear HMT-1

Here are some other options:
Chest camera
Clip on camera

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.

Have your say…

5 thoughts on “Remote auditing tools

  1. I found setting up a Dropbox between myself and the auditor really useful as you could construct the documents as to the requirements for the standard. With folders ect.
    Another tip – If you are using a phone camera for doing a site tour have a selfie stick to prevent arm ache and have stable imaging.

  2. We have had the pleasure of a number of remote audits during the lock down, and we tried various tools/ platforms. We believe Microsoft teams with a drop box free account to be perfect. Initially we did encounter a couple of teething issues like data protection (unintentionally recording/video sharing operatives without consent).
    A number of platforms do record ‘snap shots’ of videos for ‘training and marketing’ purposes – ensure you read the small details before signing up/down loading the relevant app/s. Whichever you go with have a demo run with a sister site, this will allow familiarity of the platform and also iron out any system issues before hand.

    Make your site aware that a remote audit is taking place, the last thing you want is being half way through the audit and a member of staff comes along and tries to hold a conversation with you about Joe bloggs not washing has hands or something worse, in ear shot of the auditor!

    Agreeing an audit timetable beforehand with the auditor and ensure you take the lead rather than what can happen…the auditor starts at section 1 then jumps to section 5 then 2 then 7 of a standard…I’m sure we’ve all experienced this in the past?!

    And plan in rest breaks 😉

  3. Hello,
    apart from software and hardware tools, are there any learnings and suggestions for conducting the remote audits? say referring to the audit form, how the questions to be asked, what kind of evidence should be asked? We are missing the real ‘senses’ in remote audit, such as body language of auditee, floor round, group interactions, culture piece etc. Appreciate feedback.

    1. Hi Arcchana
      Yes totally agree, using your senses is a key aspect of auditing, which is lost during a remote audit. Maybe our fellow techie’s who have had remote audit can comment on this subject? From my point of view, the initial aim would be to manage it just the same as a normal audit. The questions would be the same. Although I think it would be a good idea to set up some ‘rules’ at the beginning, as there is a risk that peoples feelings could be hurt or behaviour could cause frustration. Agreeing in the first instance how to communicate during the audit would be useful. For example, please don’t be offended when I direct you to do x, y, z…
      Kassy

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