Independence is the auditor’s greatest tool and the hardest to achieve. Why? Because of our own biases.
The first line of defense is a physical separation. Don’t audit work that you are involved with.
The second line of defense is staying focused on the goal. Focus on acheiving the audit’s objectives.
Oh, I have heard the full boat of sob stories across the years. And if you have a heart, it can be hard to be critical. But that’s out job as an auditor.
“We have laid off 50% of the salaried staff.”
“We are on work share.”
“We were hit with a hurricane 5 years ago.”
“We had an engine explode and injure a worker.”
“Corporate has sold us off.”
“The US parent company is under bankruptcy so our spending is frozen.”
You have to listen to these circumstances, because they inform you as an auditor.
1. It may indicate the level of commitment to a management system if excuse after excuse are used instead of continual improvement. Because even if you have no money to implement a capital project, there are other improvements, which only require time, that can be done. It’s an opportunity to think outside of the box.
2. It’s important to understand the situation and be sensitive when interviewing. It doesn’t mean skip questions, or let them off if something hasn’t been done correctly, just change your approach. Being sensitive to the situation will be an advantage.
3. Some circumstances may lead you to potential weaknesses in a management system that you may want to follow up on. Some examples:
– lay offs: Have the lost positions that affect the environment or health and safety been back filled or tasks assigned to others?
Have organizational charts and roles in procedures been updated?
– natural or other disaster: Review emergency response plans.
Have the plans been reviewed by the organization as a result of the event?
Have the responses to the event been evaluated? Have lessons learned been actioned on?
Have emergency response equipement been replenished in a resonable time?
Assessing the auditee organization and paying attention to all of the information will always help your auditing.