Making an audit a valuable experience for the auditee: Dos and Don’ts

Effective auditors aim to conduct constructive, supportive, and value-adding audits. How do they achieve this? How do they ensure that auditing does not become an unpleasant experience for the audited organization, causing stress, fostering mistrust, or leading to a feeling of low value?

Here are some dos and don’ts based on my three decades of experience being audited, guiding, and watching auditors, as well as auditing.

Here are the dos:

  1. Clearly communicate the audit’s purpose, scope, and process to the auditee.
  2. Encourage auditees to offer their ideas and thoughts.
  3. Emphasize the importance of identifying areas for improvement and learning.
  4. Make your findings concrete, practical, and focused on processes, not individuals.
  5. Ensure that the organization understands the audit findings and their implications.
  6. Recognize progress and success.
  7. Build trust and mutual respect.
  8. Adapt the audit approach to align with the organization’s objectives.
  9. Maintain open communication during the audit process.
  10. Share best practices for promoting future improvements.

Here are the don’ts: 

  1. Take an aggressive or confrontational approach, focusing only on identifying faults or assigning blame.
  2. Prioritize identifying non-compliance without recognizing the organization’s efforts or strengths.
  3. Provide negative comments without meaningful direction for change.
  4. Ignore organizational culture.
  5. Assign auditors with limited expertise or industry understanding to conduct the audit.
  6. Handle sensitive information without adequate confidentiality.
  7. Lack of flexibility or awareness of the organization’s environment, standards, or particular issues.
  8. Conduct intrusive or poorly timed.
  9. Fail to educate and share expertise during audits.
  10. Fail to tailor your approach to the organization’s size and complexity.

Fostering a positive and valuable audit experience for the auditee requires significant effort. Auditors can ensure that the audit process drives improvement and adds value to the organization by adhering to the above dos and avoiding the pitfalls highlighted in the don’ts.

Which dos will you adopt, and which don’ts will you drop?

By Marc Cwikowski
March 1, 2024

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