Closing the Loop
As an auditor we have to ensure that we follow our audit trails until the loop is closed.
The most common example is ensuring issues are fully addressed.
During a recent audit, I was revieweing the management review meeting records. There was some really well documented issues from the discussions based on the KPIs reviewed. A number of action items were identified. Some of the actions had responsibilities identified and others the owner was still to be identified. The action items sat in the meeting minutes. This organizations’ management review meeting was scheduled for an annual frequency. My audit was about 6 months later and I followed up on the status of the action items.
Of the 9 action items identified, 5 had owners assigned to them, 0 had a due date. From the 9 action items, only 2 were closed, most likely because they were easy to address and were. Another 2 had gotten started, but because of a lack of a due date, other things got in the way. The remaining 5 were untouched. They were all good ideas, but they were not tracked.
At another audit, I was reviewing recomendations from a spill drill report. These were good action items and there was full intention to implement them. However, the action items never left the report. They were in the coordinators head to follow up on. While auditing, I was able to verify that some of the actions were addressed. However, some of the action items were not. The reason was that the report was in a file.
In both circumstances, everyone had good intentions. There was data and information that was reviewed effectively, but there were no systematic processes to follow through on the items. Without the follow through, the hard work done up to that point is lost and continual improvement slows down. An audit helps put a spot light on where good intentions are let to die.
As an auditor, make sure that your audit trail follows every step in the path, look for sufficient evidence to be satisfied that things are getting done.