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A remote audit, also known as virtual audit, is the method of conducting an audit distantly, using electronic means such as videoconferencing, email, and telephone to acquire audit evidence, just like during an on-site audit. 

The overall aim is to evaluate this evidence objectively to determine the extent to which we have fulfilled the audit criteria.

The benefits of remote audits have already been discussed, so let’s not be hypocrites and talk about the limits of this methodology. There are plenty of downsides too, some apparent and some less.

The one area to consider is technology. If network connections are not very reliable, interviews and meetings can be interrupted, and it may take some time to reconnect and solve all the network problems. Also, depending on the location of the audited company and technology used, one of the main challenges organizations can run into is logistics – it can be hard to access the VPN to log into a database in order to show evidence. 

Since plenty of audits were conducted until now, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the research showed that most notified bodies claim poor network connection is a common obstacle.

Notified bodies have also faced problems related to the limited IT skills of the audited company, poor image, and sound quality, as well as the need to scan documents.

The companies that are scanning documents may consider using QMS software. Just saying…

The other obstacle when it comes to remote auditing is trust. Some auditors want to perform on-site audits because they believe they can trust the audit only if auditors have physical access to audit evidence. They consider it is easier for the audited company to hide issues and even possible nonconformities.

Even though there are few limits when it comes to this audit method, many auditors have found that remote auditing is not only possible but that it can add value and efficiency. Working remotely has forced auditors to be more proactive and to think ‘outside of the box’.

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