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Documentation Audit/Desk Audit

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When auditing a company and some areas of its operations, sometimes the processes themselves aren’t the relevant information or aspects to evaluate. Instead, the documents and data saved of the company and all the information they have collected so far can give out much more relevant details than auditing the processes and management systems directly. This is why many companies decide to focus their efforts on the piles of documents they have stored in their businesses and have an expert and qualified auditor reviewing and reading them.

To be honest, it is easier to find missing details and issues in the documents than the processes themselves, at least, most of the time. However, the problem with auditing documents and the entire process is that it takes a lot of time. This is the reason companies are divided into conducting Documentation Audit or going for the traditional option of assessing and evaluating all the operations.

Now, a Documentation Audit not only stands for this purpose but also for the final review of the auditing process. In simpler words, a Desk Audit is also known as the activity conducted for a senior auditor when the process is over. But, what documents and information does it audit?

When an auditor—or group of them—conducted an audit successfully they need to save all the information they have collected to provide it as a result of the activity. However, before providing it to the company or person who requested the audit, or making the final decision in your own company after it has finished, it is important to review the final documents.

In this way, the senior auditor in charge of this task can determine if the conclusion is the correct one or if there are some missing information and details on the documentation.

To make it even simpler, this Documentation Audit consists of auditing the records and all the documents the main auditors, who conducted a different type of audit, obtained during the process. For some people, the idea of having to audit the documents from the auditors makes no sense at all. But we, as a responsible company who also has to conduct such an audit quite periodically, can guarantee you that it is as crucial as the main audit itself.

Imagine this situation: your auditors conducted—for example—an internal audit and collected a lot of information and details which helped them to come to a conclusion. Do you think they cannot be making a mistake?

There are several reasons why some companies struggle with audits: because they don’t get the expected or real results and end up conducting them over and over again. What we are trying to tell you with this is that to make sure your company is going in the right direction in the areas and aspects the auditors are reviewing, you must make sure that the conclusion has evidence and this evidence is reliable. This is why Documentation Audit is more important than you might have thought until now.

Is there a specific way to organize the documentation for its auditing as well as some information?

When you are thinking about conducting a Documentation Audit or already made the decision to do it, you need to let your auditors know that someone else will review and read the information. In this way, they can follow certain parameters that will make the task and duty of the senior auditor in charge of auditing the documents easier and simpler. So, to answer the main question right away: yes, the documentation needs to be organized or contain specific details.

What information should the auditor for the documentation have available?

First, the documentation of the audit process needs to be very specific. You might find it quite difficult to do, but some situations require the exact date and time when some information on the documents was obtained or collected. Also, how that information made the previous auditor come to the conclusion at the end of the documentation?

In a few words, the documents need to be specific about how the audit was conducted and the methods and approaches the auditor took in order to conduct it. You can consider the key information from the documentation to be an explanation and step-by-step about the audit process.

Which is quite extensive and a lot to document when you are the one writing and being specific about it.

Of course, reading through all the information and identifying any nonconformity or issue is going to be a lot of work. But this is the main reason why the documentation must have key information.

You, as a company that is looking to conduct Documentation Audits for yourself and probably other companies and businesses, need to be aware of all the key information that has to appear in the documents.

Starting with:

  • From where does the data and information come from? —Biography, documents, and more.
  • Include the timing. Such as the date the audit was performed and all the period it covers from the company.
  • Who conducted the audit? —With names and number of auditors in total.
  • What standards and normative did the auditors follow to conduct it? Are they certified and qualified?
  • How did they test some evidence and information? Did they confirm it is real and completely true?
  • Statistics and relevant information about the conclusion.
  • How did they reach the conclusion in the audit?

Does this Documentation Audit apply for any type of auditing?

Most companies conduct this type of audit when it comes to financial matters. To be more specific, people pay attention to the documentation and results from it the most when it is the financial management system involved or being audited. We understand the reasons behind this since knowing where your company stands with its financial issues or condition is crucial.

However, don’t underestimate how important is to conduct this audit option in the rest of your audit programs. You can review the documentation after any audit you conduct. And this includes the ones conducted in specific management systems or areas of your company.

Even when it comes to external ones such as Second Party Audits, Supplier Evaluation or Audit, and more. Of course, the only person that can request such an audit is the one that is receiving the documentation from the previous auditing process. However, our point with all this is that if you were limiting and restraining yourself from doing it after every process, you don’t have to do such a thing. Instead, we encourage you to go for the Desk Audit in order to be certain about the results and have a senior auditor certifying everything in the final conclusion.

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When can this audit be conducted?

Unlike what most people believe, Documentation Audit doesn’t take place right after the audit is over. Instead, people resort to this option years later after the audit was conducted. However, if you are in need of reviewing the documentation and information to have a second opinion or confirm the conclusion your team of auditors has come to, you can also do it.

But we don’t find it quite necessary if you have all your standards and regulations in place. If you are here reading about this audit, that means you are interested in conducting and managing the program yourself. And this is probably because you don’t want to rely on another company or external auditor to do it for you.

Or maybe you are trying to get familiar and certified in it in order to provide and conduct them for other companies. Whatever your goal is, you need to keep in mind something from now on: you need to meet requirements and follow standards. But before jumping to this, allow us to finish answering the main question.

You can conduct a Documentation Audit whenever you find it necessary and there is no specific time you have to wait until you are able to do it. Also, this auditing option isn’t available for only a few companies or industries. Anyone certified and in need of it can conduct it without further issues or worries.

What does it take to plan and conduct this audit?

Just like internal, external, compliance, and other types of audits, you need to get certified. Any person or company that is trying to conduct an audit needs to follow the guidelines and requirements established in some regulations, laws, and more importantly, ISO standards. Therefore, you can’t run or neglect the need of paying attention to ISO 9001.

If you have been conducting other audits during all this time, you should be familiar with this ISO and all the guidelines that appear on it. And you should be certified as well. This may take you to a common question: why would you need to get certified again?

Well, the requirements and parameters for internal audits—for example—and Documentation Audit aren’t the same. Besides, ISO 9001 isn’t the only standard you need to be acquittance with if you want to conduct it. Keeping in check all the ISOs and norms your company has to follow to deal with this audit will be a difficult task.

This is why we suggest you find support and assistance in this matter. At ISO Pros, we can help you to keep your ISO standards needs in check and allow you to meet every parameter and requirement to conduct Documentation Audits, either for you or other companies. Just make sure to contact us and let us know your specific needs, goals, and expectations.

We are sure you still have doubts and questions about the topic and don’t worry, it is completely normal. After all, it takes a lot of time, resources, and effort to understand everything involved and to actually start conducting this audit. Also, you need to grow familiar with all the standards according to the company and the industry the audit is being carried out.

If your company is focused on the Automotive industry, you must know about automotive ISO standards and how they influence your documentation auditing process. Besides, you need to keep in mind that the method or approach of the audit depends on the type of company or organization. Therefore, you need to consider the industry and type of your company to conduct the audit properly.

And you also have to consider the industry and organization you are helping and conducting the audit on behalf of. Otherwise, you will have problems obtaining the desired results and understanding the documentation of the previous audit you are reviewing.

A high level of understanding is required for this task, and one of the things you will have to worry about is: who will conduct the audits for your company. To know more about this and access more information, visit the rest of our website, or feel free to contact us.