Audits during the pandemic

Altaf Shaikh, CEO Competency Plus


As of late there has been an increasing introduction of mandates by regulatory bodies, stipulating that organisations demonstrate the effective management of competence in the workplace. Training is simply not enough. An organisation must be able to evidence the competence of all job roles, especially in a safety critical function. This not only is critical for some organisations to acquire accreditation, such as ISO: 17020, IRATA, DNV, ISO:9001 etc but an immense selling point for potential contracts.

There is a common theme and belief on what competence is and how organisations manage the competence of their workforce. Some organisations see qualifications as competence and believe that a certificate will cut it in an audit. A training matrix detailing who has attended courses is bandied about with a flourish believing again that this is proof of competence.

This is simply not the case and audits now need to document the existence of records, in the form of outputs that provide evidence of an individual’s competence, in other words proof they can provide sufficient evidence of competence on the job.

Conducting audits during this pandemic can be a challenge. Most organisations have competency frameworks detailing Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSA) but commonly lack competence records, and information is usually fragmented as departments work in siloes. The numerous voids and the absence of a consolidated view means that auditors cannot scrutinise remotely. This results in missed opportunity to retain accreditation or inspire confidence in prospective clients.

In short, the bar is being raised and most organisation aren’t prepared for the ever evolving, more stringent expectations around competence in audits.

Although the planet has almost seamlessly transitioned into a new normalised pattern of working from home, it is evident that the same is not true for being able to conduct a convincingly good audit.

There is a gap which needs filling, the capability to conduct convincing, comprehensive audits over a video call.

It’s a feeding frenzy, albeit with tightly secured purse strings; and service providers will need to possess operational attributes in addition to their catalogue of service offerings; cue demonstrable workforce competence management.

Such desirable characteristics are usually discovered during an audit, whether by a potential client or a regulatory body. In short, a successful audit can result in the acquisition or retention of an accreditation or revenue.

Does your organisation have the capability or technology to seamlessly present information, data and output records for an audit conducted remotely?