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  • Writer's pictureKeith Phillips

Certification Bodies need Remote Auditing

One of the most critical issues facing a world in lockdown is keeping the food supply-chain open.

Currently retailers and purchasers of food require on-site verification to validate conformance to compliance standards. This is not currently possible.

The only remedy proposed so far, is to postpone online audits until the lockdown is over. This gives us problems.

Empty airplane

Firstly, we don’t know how long travel and onsite visits will be restricted. Isolation rules may not be lifted for weeks, maybe even months in some areas. And even when they do lift, levels of safety and access may differ across towns, regions and countries, continuing to limit access.

Secondly, there will be a sudden and high demand for onsite visits at a time when there may be fewer auditors available to assist.

We have been talking to clients across the world to see how this has been affecting them.

Certification organisations in the north of Italy - where the situation is particularly acute - are facing issues of their own survival.

If they can’t audit, cashflows dry-up. And if they can’t get government bailouts, they will have to let their auditors go.

In New Zealand and some other countries, major certification bodies are owned by the government who will not let them fail. The integrity of supply is mission critical.

Despite the level of support for compliance bodies at this time, no-one wants to drop their standards of compliance and food integrity. The economic future of a country is in the reputation of its agricultural sector; so the lockdown is forcing virtually all organisations to introduce and understand how to use remote working tools.

Remote audit solutions are here now and ready to use.

Fortunately, we at QLBS have reached a stage where remote audit is a viable solution, particularly for renewals where onsite verification has occurred in the past.

Companies around the world are rapidly restructuring, with people working entirely from home.

A whole society is becoming confident with remote communication as they use video conferencing and other tools such as chat rooms and audio-visual capture.

This could be the biggest shift in working habits the world has ever seen.

The future of audit; Artificial Intelligence.

When this is all over, remote audit and inspection using IT tools will never be the same again. New skills, new processes and new IT platforms will be in place to improve audit and inspection quality and reach.

The certification bodies that survive will be more efficient and effective. They will be able to provide enhanced knowledge services to their clients and stakeholders be being able to capture data and multimedia evidence using integrated tools.

We will have accelerated into an era of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for agriculture, made possible by organised data capture. Remote working will in fact drive the connection of data, making isolated islands of spreadsheets a thing of the past.

Find out more about our Remote Auditing Solution.


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