Many organisations associate audits with the chaos of the holiday season, but the truth is, audits can happen at any time. Preparation is key to making sure your organisation is always audit-ready.
Here are five tips to help you stay ahead of the game.
1. Weekly Floor Walks
One of the most effective ways to ensure your team is always audit-ready is to conduct weekly floor walks. During these walks, take the time to observe processes, talk to employees, and assess the overall environment. Ask questions like: What are you working on? How is it going? What procedure are you following? Is there anything that could be improved? What is the quality policy? Are you finding the training helpful? What additional training would you like?
In addition to building relationships with your team, weekly floor walks can help you identify potential issues before they become bigger problems. For example, if you notice a workspace is cluttered, you can address it right away, rather than waiting for an audit to bring it up.
2. Quality Culture
The tone of your organization plays a significant role in how well you perform during an audit. When quality is valued and emphasized in the workplace, it becomes a habit that employees carry with them in all areas of their work.
A great example of this can be seen in a pharmaceutical company where the CEO was forced out of a production area because he wasn't wearing a hat, which could have contaminated the product. The management team rewarded the Quality Engineer for their actions and used the incident to emphasize the importance of quality.
3. Deal with Problems
When They Happen Ignoring problems only leads to bigger issues down the road. Instead, embrace mistakes and turn them into opportunities for improvement.
For instance, if you're having trouble keeping up with production timelines, it's better to address the issue now rather than waiting for an audit to bring it up. When you deal with problems as they arise, you'll be able to fix them more quickly and effectively, making your organization more audit-ready in the long run.
Example of how to deal with problems:
Whenever you identify a problem, acknowledge it and take steps to resolve it.
Celebrate the discovery of problems and use them as an opportunity for positive improvement.
Develop a continuous improvement culture in which everyone is encouraged to identify and address problems.
4. Have an Audit Plan
Having a plan in place for when an audit occurs can help reduce the stress and uncertainty that often come with these events. Key elements of an audit plan include: the location of the audit, how the room will be organized, where people will sit, how documents will be printed, where people will wait, and how requests will be processed. Having a well thought-out plan will make the audit process more efficient and less stressful for everyone involved.
Example of what your audit plan might include:
Determine the location of the audit.
Decide how to organize the room, including seating arrangements.
Plan for printing documents, requests, and waiting areas.
Develop a process for handling requests and responding to inquiries during the audit.
5. Practice Practice Practice
Practice makes perfect, and the same goes for audits. Just as you test fire alarms weekly and have fire drills annually, you should also have an audit drill.
For example, have someone show up at security and pretend they're there to conduct an unannounced audit. This will give your team the opportunity to practice their response and identify any areas that need improvement. Celebrate successes and positively review any failures to ensure your organization is always audit-ready.
By following these five tips, you can ensure your organization is always prepared for an audit, no matter when it may occur. By building a strong quality culture, dealing with problems as they arise, having a solid audit plan, and practicing regularly, you'll be able to minimize stress and maximize success during any audit.