Session A7Virtual Auditing - The Telecommuter Workforce
Presenter: Shauna Wilson

The global marketplace is transforming Face–to-Face (FtF) working environments into virtual environments for many companies. One third of US based companies have transitioned their manufacturing floors to seventy-two million virtual seats sitting in a worldwide supply chain, changing roles from local hands- on to world-wide consulting in Europe, China, or India to resolve product or process issues. Based on these events, how can traditional factory floor ISO 9001:2008 audits capture the virtual audit trail and include the new virtual environment?

Traditionally, ISO auditors have traveled to company sites to audit processes, but in today's world, auditors find that many of the "work from home" employees have also traveled to the site that day for the audit, or are attending the audit via an online collaborative meeting room. Often auditors are unaware of how to use these collaborative systems, let alone, how to work in teams over the Internet. It should be standard practice for an auditor to consider if the audit process replicates the environment of the work force (face to face or virtual), fits within the scope of the certification, and reaches all records and documentation (hard copy and/or online).

ISO 9001-2008 section 5.5.3 Internal Communication addresses the need to ensure appropriate communication processes are established within the organization regarding the effectiveness of the Quality Management Systems, a vital need for virtual teams. Managing the world-wide supply chain is the focus and objective for the dispersed companies’ ISO 9001 certification. Virtual auditing presents a host of benefits to companies that will help them solve their communication issues because online auditing helps to streamline and maintain website, documentation, and record control in the online environment through reoccurring scheduled reviews. Auditors need to become more familiar on how to communicate virtually to better understand the communication issues affecting these online QMS.

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