Hello! I hope you are having a wonderful summer (that’s right, having, summer is not over yet ;-)).
The past 2.5 years has brought about many changes in our lives, both personal and professional.
On a professional level, I am grateful that my work has not been negatively affected: the only change is that I mainly do it from home. At first a full 5 days a week, and now for 3 days from home and 2 in the office.
With regards to the actual tasks that make up my current Quality work, the biggest change that I have had to adjust to is the practice of conducting an audit virtually. Since the late 90s when I started working in the Quality field, any audits I was involved in (either as the auditor or auditee) were conducted face-to-face and in-person. Eventually with the advent of streaming video, being able to video-conference became a valuable asset to companies and society in general. However, auditing stayed pretty much in the “tangible” realm . . . we still wanted to see and deal with issues/processes/people in the flesh. But with what the last 2.5 years have given us, the switchover to virtual audits became a necessity, and no longer a “just in case”.
For myself in my current Supplier Quality role, this year found me completing 2 supplier audits virtually. I actually found the amount of preparation about the same as an in-person audit, and the content remained unchanged (agenda, questionnaire, audit report, evidence, NCRs, action plan).
The one new thing I had to consider before the audit was that the suppliers would be ready from a video standpoint. With both audits, I set up pre-audit calls with the auditees to work this out. I use TEAMs with my work, so it was important to assure that the supplier was also familiar and comfortable in using it; in both cases they were. That said, with one supplier, they needed to become “TEAMs mobile”. It is nice to have TEAMs set up on your desktop and be able to talk and share documents/records; however as the auditor, I want to be able to see the company and how it works (as you would do if you were present onsite). This meant setting up TEAMs on the smartphones of key employees involved in the audit, that way I could see and interact with the shop floor, visit the inspection areas, quarantine areas, etc. Once all this was set up and taken care of, the audits were able to be conducted relatively smoothly.
Although my audits were both with suppliers in the Eastern time zone, one thing that may require adjustment is when you have to virtually audit a supplier outside of your time zone. If you are in Montreal and your supplier is in California, then most likely you will need to adjust your working hours to accommodate your auditee in California . . . certainly not something you would think about if you were to get on a plane and go to the supplier and put yourself in their time zone.
In conclusion, although I still prefer the in-person audit, I am very satisfied that had to conduct a few virtual audits this year, in order to get that experience under my belt and feel more comfortable with it.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Neither the “C” word nor the “P” word were used during the writing of this article.
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Thank you, all the best and none of the worst.