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Welcome to the Quarantined with Qualtrax series! Through these webinars, we will bring together industry experts and provide critical insights that will help you and your team adjust and thrive during the pandemic.

If you missed the episode, it’s not too late! You can watch it here.

In this webinar, we sat down with Matthew Sica to learn how to design a remote internal audit, an activity that has become even more important and relevant given the global pandemic.

Matthew Sica is a Quality Assurance Director with Phase Four Services, a management company working in the cannabis industry. His responsibilities include reviewing management systems and training programs to improve overall quality, as well as designing for scalability and efficiency of laboratory processes for internal and external clients. He has over 30 years of experience in the laboratory environment and extensive experience in statutory and regulatory compliance.

If a remote internal audit is on your radar, then it’s probably because:
  • You want to ensure compliance with the requirements of national, international or industry standards, regulatory or statutory requirements or customer specifications.
  • You want to test the effectiveness of your systems to meet specified objectives like Quality, Environmental, or Financial.
  • You are interested in providing feedback to top management regarding your audit readiness.
So, what is a remote internal audit?

A remote internal audit is a process that uses several approaches of gathering evidence including; document and record review, interviews, and witnessing of activities, all by the use of available technology.

Now you may be thinking that this sounds like a huge headache – and it may be! A remote internal audit requires planning, a risk evaluation and the availability of tools to help you get the job done.

If you think that a remote internal audit could be just what your organization needs, follow along as Matthew breaks down the process into four sections.
  • Feasibility and Risk Analysis
  • To evaluate feasibility, you must determine that you have the resources available to support a remote internal audit. This entails:
  • Looking at the confidentiality and data security needs of your organization
  • Evaluating the use of communication technology, including infrastructure and bandwidth.
  • Ensuring that resources are available for staff who do not regularly use the technology needed to complete a remote internal audit.
  • Evaluating the operations of your facility and making sure you have access to the required materials for the audit.

After reviewing these four steps, you’ll be able to predict whether or not your organization will be successful in conducting a remote internal audit.

Digital Document & Record Management Risks

There are obvious advantages to using digital document and record management systems. They save a lot of staff time and reduce travel costs when meetings and audits are able to be done

remotely. This gives you an opportunity to take a deeper dive into your QMS system.

Some important things to consider:
  • You need to know that everyone has access to what they need during the audit.
  • Ask yourself whether you are set up for document sharing or whether you need to invest in a cloud-based system.
  • Make sure all members of your team have the access they need to work in the system.
  • If you’re still paper-based, you need to ensure the quality of newly scanned materials and set time aside for the digitization process.
  • If you’re working outside of your normal system, record collection can be time consuming.
Planning Issues

Planning is a big consideration when trying a remote internal audit for the first time. It requires more coordination with the management team and the auditees than a regular audit. There also needs to be sufficient availability of resources including technology, wifi and internet bandwidth to facilitate this process.

When planning, you’ll need to use different audit techniques than you’ve probably used in the past. This may require additional training for audit team members.

You’ll also need to take challenges in scheduling into consideration. Finalizing schedules that work between the various teams is important so that everyone is on the same page and ready for the

audit process.

Matthew suggests that managers follow this sample Remote Internal Audit Timeline:
  • Schedule video conferencing and video witnessing activities
  • Prepare list and request documents and records
  • Receive and review documents and records
  • Prepare questions
  • Open meeting
  • Video conferencing and witness of activities
  • Follow up questions/closing meeting
  • Report

One aspect of remote internal audits that is often overlooked is the follow-up. Though this process will look different depending on which technology was used in the audit process, a few guidelines are:

  1. In terms of file sharing sites, it’s helpful to download the files you need and delete them off the site after the audit is complete. Credentials should also be removed from those who no longer need access to your system.
  2. At the end of the process, make sure that all equipment is returned to the appropriate department.
  3. Most important of all is to host a postmortem so you can see what went right and what went wrong during the process. This will help your organization constantly improve and make the next audit even smoother.

We hope that Matthew’s vast experience in laboratories and his knowledge of remote audits has been helpful in preparing you to conduct your next remote audit.

This blog is merely a summarized version of the great information he shared during the webinar on the role risk assessment, communication, technology, and timing play in designing a highly successful remote internal audit. You can download the full webinar here(LINK). At the end of the webinar, Matthew and Karen answered your peers’ questions about audits and Qualtrax.

So what role does Qualtrax play in your remote internal audit?

First off, we are an ISO 9001:2015 Certified Organization. So we know what it’s like to conduct a remote internal audit.

Second, our software is an extremely helpful tool for organizations that want to take the stress out of quality management and compliance. We are an all-in-one compliance management solution and we are able to support organizations’ remote internal audits in three very important ways:

  1. We can automate any process (like an internal audit) through our custom workflow feature!
  2. Our document management system is simple, organized and cloud-based.
  3. You can create the reports you need to make your job easier through Qualtrax.

If you’re not familiar with the Qualtrax system, let us take you on a tour and offer you a free trial! We are confident we can help set your organization up for remote audit success!

Categories: Audits, Calibration, Compliance Management, Environmental, Forensic Labs, Manufacturing, Medical Examiners, Process Management, Quality Managers, Risk, Testing Labs, Training, Uncategorized

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