• Andrew Thornhill

How To Audit an Operational Task You Don't Know Much About

In this blog we are going to talk about how you could audit an operational activity that you have been assigned to audit if you don’t really know that much at this stage about that operational process and how it should be planned, conducted and managed.



I’ll break this blog into 2 key ideas:


1. Plan and Prepare

I cannot advocate this enough.

If you have a particular production process that at this stage you do not know much about, planning and preparation will help you get an understanding of the process.


This may involve possibly going and talking to the team prior to the audit. If they’re at a different site perhaps look at some of their related documentation provided on the intranet - whether it’s a risk register or business plan or related production procedure.


Read through it, try your best to get a feel for what process that team performs and how they go about it. If possible, go and do a site walk through prior to the audit, if we can’t I might allocate some time right at the start of the audit to do just that.


The planning and preparation is going to be critical. Even allowing a little bit more time for the audit than we previously thought. Certainly get a really good understanding of the criteria.


If you ask for some of their documentation or do a site walk through up front, you will be able to get an understanding of not only the steps in that process, but what some of the key risks in the process are, and how they should be controlled. That is important to know before you start.

An example of an area of high risk are the handover points where the job goes from the production team for example, to the dispatch team.

So, a good start will be to understand the risks, what’s required in the process and in the handover points.


2. You (as an auditor) are not the process expert

The team doing the job day in day out everyday are going to be the process experts. You don’t have to develop the same level of process expertise, but to make the audit work effectively and to not put the auditees off-side, they would expect you to have a basic understanding of what’s required in the different steps.


You don’t have to pretend you are a process expert; it works quite well to say to people “well you guys are the experts in the process” because in a way that can make auditees feel quite comfortable with the process.

RESOURCE:

Download the ‘Internal Audit Training – Simple’ Document template from our Resources Page under the training section at the bottom of the page.


OTHER AUDITING BLOGS:

How to develop an internal audit schedule

Do you need an audit plan? (and how to create one)

How to gather OBJECTIVE audit evidence

How MUCH audit evidence is enough to draw a factual finding?

What you can do if the auditee is uncomfortable with the audit process

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