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Audit Checklist - computer format or handwritten?

Discussion in 'ISO 19011 - Auditing Management Systems Guidelines' started by Gilbert, Mar 12, 2021.

  1. Gilbert

    Gilbert Member

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    I remember back then one of the external auditors that audited our company, advised us that it is better that the Audit Checklist is handwritten because this is an indication that the auditor is really doing his/her audit observations during the audit proper, but during this pandemic due to Covid19, which the audit is more on a remote or virtual (ex. skype, zoom, MS Teams, etc),
    Do we really need to have the Checklist in a handwritten format? or we change to computer format ?
     
  2. John C. Abnet

    John C. Abnet Well-Known Member

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    No requirement to even have a checklist @Gilbert . Be selfish. Do what works best for your organization.

    Hope this helps.
    Be well.
     
  3. Andy Nichols

    Andy Nichols Moderator Staff Member

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    Gilbert, your auditor wasn't far off the mark, in my experience. I use such a technique, regardless of the medium used in communications, during the audit. Firstly, "checklist" is a bit of a misnomer. Auditors don't use checklists - or at least shouldn't - like a pilot does. What an auditor is doing is a) planning their audit and b) demonstrating objectivity and freedom from bias, all of which ARE required by the standard. Furthermore, if you consider this activity to be more like creating a shopping list, than simply things to "check off" as done, then the use of some type of working document (as ISO 19011 calls them) takes on a greater importance. We all know what happens on shopping trips without planning....
     
  4. RoxaneB

    RoxaneB Moderator Staff Member

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    If you're referring to the notes taken by the auditor during the course of the audit, where does it state in the standard that internal auditors need to have handwritten notes?

    In this day and age as people become more tech savvy, maybe typed notes are a viable option. Some people type faster than they write. Some people can't read their rushed handwriting when they go back to flipping through their notes. Do what works for your organization. We tried using a tablet with a stylus once - didn't work too well for us, but it was a fun experiment to try.

    That being said, be careful with the typing on a virtual audit...the constant, never-ending clackity-clack of a keyboard is annoying, can drown out people's voices (depending on the proximity of the mic to the keyboard), and people may start to wonder if you're truly listening to them instead of simply transcribing what they're saying.

    And if someone raises the issue of "how do you know this typed set of notes is really from the auditor", tweak the process to include some form of authorized communication such as an email from the individual's account (these are often password protected), so if the email has the notes attached, problem solved.

    Is there a loophole? Yes. But hey, there's a loophole with handwritten notes, as well...after all, how we do know that Internal Auditor Bob actually wrote these notes? Do you keep a handwriting sample available for comparison? Of course not...it's a silly notion. Personally, whomever made that suggestion needs to recognize that tech changes and organizations need to adapt to make it work for them.
     
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  5. Andy Nichols

    Andy Nichols Moderator Staff Member

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    I guess it really comes down to the environment and some other factors. I have found that in manufacturing, a clipboard, a paper "checklist" and a pen are very effective/efficient. Of course, the amount of notes taken will be driven directly from the degree of compliance of the system being audited. Low compliance = high notes taking. Hence, using a computer for "checklist/notes taking in an office, over a Zoom meeting with a highly compliant management system is going to work well.
     
  6. Jennifer Kirley

    Jennifer Kirley Moderator Staff Member

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    I still use my handwritten note sheets during virtual audits, simply because I am familiar with their format (I have a set of templates using Rocketbook, which can be saved as a .pdf file then erased and written on over and over) and my process notes set up helps me quickly find samples later for segments like document control, training, maintenance and calibration. Some software can turn handwriting into text, but I have not yet found that to work for me so I just have to be sure to write legibly.
     
  7. tony s

    tony s Well-Known Member

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    In performing remote/virtual audits, I employ the available manual and electronic tools for collecting audit evidences such as:
    • use of a three-column table where the first column contains the list of specific audit criteria relevant to the scope and objective of the audit activity. I print a copy so I can add other criteria while interviewing the auditee;
    • handwritten notes of the information collected from the auditee. I write them in the second column opposite to the printed list of criteria;
    • use of print screen to obtain pictures of the evidences being presented. I paste the copied image in the second column of the electronic version of the list of criteria;
    • use of cloud storage if I need the auditee to send scanned images or files of evidences. If needed, I download them and examine the evidences on a share screen mode;
    • ask the auditee to use a handheld smartphone to capture videos of actual practices, if necessary;
    • obtain the recording of the entire audit activity to make sure important verbally provided information are incorporated into the audit report.
     
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