IAF updates

Remote Auditing – Just another Tool in the Toolbox?

Kevin Belson
TC Chair, IAF
Technical Manager, UKAS

The concept of remote audits has been around for many years and has for a long time been possible within stated controls. We all recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic, which necessitated a dramatic shift to remote auditing due to travel and attendance restrictions, provided us with an opportunity to better understand the role and capabilities of remote auditing within the world of accredited certification. It is now widely recognised that remote auditing techniques can be a valuable tool when used correctly and effectively.

The IAF Technical Committee has been looking closely, through a dedicated Task Group, at the current situation with regard to remote and blended audits, including reviewing coverage in standards and in existing IAF documents.

It is envisaged that, along with increased use of digital technology, remote and innovative auditing methodologies will become part of the normal audit process, although they are unlikely to fully replace traditional auditing

However, we need to recognise that, while remote auditing is a useful tool, it is but one of many tools in the auditor’s toolbox, and it is important that the correct auditing methodology is used in the right circumstances, always remembering the need to demonstrate a complete and effective audit. It is vital to understand the strengths and limitations of each audit technique and it seems likely that further audit plans will include clear indication of the methodologies being used at each stage of the audit.

It has been agreed that the Task Force on remote auditing will evolve into a new permanent Working Group (WG), the WG Digital, recognising the important role of remote, digital, and innovative auditing methods now and into the future.

As Technical Committee Chair I consider it vital that IAF continues to recognise and embrace the use of remote, digital and innovative auditing techniques within the controls and principles of ISO/IEC 17011. The activities of the new WG, and other WGs and Task Forces, will help us to ensure that all methodologies are used in an effective and controlled way. 

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