Remote audits bring a laser-sharp focus - Zozan Teker from Viessmann

In a business world shaped by pandemic restrictions, the benefits of remote auditing are immediately apparent: it’s a COVID-friendly compliance tool that’s easier on company resources than on-site audits. But there’s more. Remote audits focus extremely sharply on precise requirements, making the audit process quicker, less stressful and more productive, says Zozan Teker, Head of Supplier Quality and Development at Viessmann Group. During her former job as Head of Quality Management at Viessmann Manisa in Turkey, she has collaborated with Kiwa on various audits.

Who is Viessmann Manisa and what does it do?

“Viessmann Manisa produces wall-hung combi boilers and heat exchange systems in Manisa, Turkey. The company is part of the global Viessmann Group and employs around 160 people and 66% of their turnover is generated abroad.”

What are your most critical processes that need auditing and how often does it happen?

“All the core processes of our worldwide process map are inspected annually and scheduled for internal audit at the start of each fiscal year.”

How did you handle audits before COVID-19?

“All internal and external audits were conducted on site.”

How has auditing changed for you since COVID-19 and what role does remote auditing play?

“The outbreak gave us the opportunity to re-organise the method of internal and external audits. The most urgent ones were planned for remote audit. The first was a supplier initial audit and we successfully overviewed all relevant subjects – except the production site, which will be audited on site during the next period. Internal audits were scheduled to be carried out remotely, too.”

What have been the most significant differences for you between remote auditing and on-site auditing?

“In our experience, remote audits pinpoint the exact requirements and enable you to keep focused during the entire audit, whereas with on-site audits, more time is lost. Remote audits are also less time consuming. In a remote audit, the auditees are ready to share their screen and show you exactly what you need, rather than discussing the wider issues as happens during on-site audits.”

In your view, what are the biggest advantages that remote auditing brings to your business?

“There are some great benefits compared with on-site auditing. Take supplier audits: for on-site, you spend a lot of time on non-value added activities – travelling to and from the supplier, staying overnight… That eats up cost, too. And it can be tiring! A remote audit cuts the time, cost and physical toll. There’s another benefit: productivity. And not just from eliminating travel time. When you do a remote audit, you’re in your own environment. You feel comfortable so you work better. And unlike on-site audits, you don’t have to find a meeting room you can monopolise for the whole day!”

Have you experienced any important limitations with remote auditing?

“Purely production-based processes go beyond the scope of remote auditing. That’s the greatest disadvantage. You also need to have a reliable IT infrastructure. So there are some barriers. But alongside on-site audits, I certainly see added value in remote auditing.”

How would you compare the standards of quality audits between remote auditing and on-site auditing?

“It’s totally dependent on the scope and objective of the audit. In some instances, a remote audit can be sufficient to cover all your needs, but some certification and accreditation bodies do not yet consider remote auditing as valid.”

Is remote auditing a step in the right direction for your business?

“It’s early days for us all as we adapt our businesses to this global pandemic. That’s also true for remote auditing. Remote audits will definitely be improved and I believe wholeheartedly that this type of audit will become valid throughout the world. As for our organisation specifically, yes, it’s a good step for us and we’ll take this option whenever it’s appropriate.”

Do you think remote auditing here to stay?

“Of course – as a supporting activity to traditional auditing methods. It can help companies keep on track and stay agile, rather than postponing audits to an indefinite time. If you’d asked me this question a year ago, I’d have had my doubts. But in today’s world, it’s a no-brainer.”