10 Tips to Prepare for Your Virtual ISO Audit



virtual-audit.jpgIf your organization is certified to ISO 9001, AS9100D or ISO 14001 and you have an audit scheduled to happen during the current COVID-19 restrictions, these tips are for you!

ISO 9001 or 14001 certified organizations with an “ANAB” logo – or “IAF” logo – may be a candidate for conducting what’s known as an “ICT Audit,” which stands for “Information & Communication Technology.” Under the Rules of Accreditation laid down by the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), specified in their ID 3 and MD 5 documents, certification bodies (registrars) are given the option to perform “virtual” audits using online technologies such as video conferencing and filesharing in order to conduct the required Certification Audits and maintain the integrity of the Quality (and Environmental) Management System Certificate(s).

Although not a new tool to certification – as ISO 27001 (Information Security) and TL-9000 (Telecomms) certification have been implementing ICT for a few years – it is less common for ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 audits. Still, for situations like the current COVID-19 pandemic, the IAF planned ahead to ensure organizations would have a method for auditing virtually through ICT.

Not every organization will be a suitable candidate for a virtual audit. Work with your certification body to make this decision based on:

  • The standard used: ISO 9001, ISO 14001, AS91XX, ISO 13485 (not IATF 16949)
  • The scope of the Management System
  • History of non-conformity
  • Complexity of processes, site structure, etc.
  • The type of audit; Stage 1 and surveillances work best. Others, such as Stage 2 or re-certifications are unlikely to be done by ICT.

Expect your certification body to contact you soon to gather this information!

Once you have determined an ICT Audit is right for your organization, what can you do to ensure a smooth audit? Here are some top tips:

  1. Use video – Engage everyone who has a role in the audit by video. If you held an opening meeting with your CB auditor, no one would sit in the next office!
  2. Pay attention – Don’t allow people to be checking texts or looking at their computers during the audit (unless it’s part of the audit to get information).
  3. Mute when necessary – Learn the power of keeping background noise to a minimum (and any undesirable, off-hand comments, too).
  4. Stay focused – The auditor should send you an audit plan. Try to keep to that.
  5. Be authentic, but stay professional – Being relaxed during the audit is fine, but also be aware of anything people do/say that has no place in a virtual meeting.
  6. No grandstanding – It’s not YOUR event (or the auditor’s, for that matter).
  7. Screen share when needed – If you choose to share your “retained documented information” by screen sharing, take them off the screen as soon as possible and revert to video.
  8. Get IT support – Plan for the eventuality that the technology will fail in some way and have someone from IT support you and recover the situation.
  9. Foster honest & open dialogue – You may know the auditor from previous site visits, or you may not. Be sure they get an accurate sense of who you are as an organization.
  10. PRACTICE – Don’t wait until the day of the audit to work out how the log-in works, how to file share, how to give control of the presentation or which files to share. Practice, practice, practice!

The past few weeks have seen a huge rise in the use of video conferencing with colleagues. Your ISO audit should go smoothly if you follow this advice. At The Center, we have a number of accredited Quality and Environmental Auditors who can help you with your preparation and using ICT.

To learn more, join us for a free webinar on Wednesday, May 20th, when we will discuss further tips for preparing for your virtual QMS audit. Register here.


Nichols_A.jpgAndy Nichols, Quality Program Manager
To The Center’s clients, Andy Nichols, CQP MCQI, brings 40 years of expertise in a wide variety of roles and industries, with a particular focus on quality management systems in manufacturing organizations. Prior to joining the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, he was the East Coast Regional Sales Manager for NQA, a “Top 5” Global Certification Body, responsible for significant sales growth in a highly competitive marketplace. He has authored two books, “Exploding the Myths Surrounding ISO 9000 – A Practical Implementation Guide” (published by ITG in April 2013) and “A Guide to Effective Internal Management Systems Audits" (published May 2014).


Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.the-center.org.

Categories: Quality Management, Technology