Let’s have a look on some very critical rules that have to be followed when auditing in a Construction Project:
1. The audittee (the person who will be audited) should be notified well in advance : (in my opinion 2 weeks before the audit is the minimum) – Audit Schedule and notification has to be in a written format (at least an email notification has to be sent). More than anything else, the requirements and the scope of the Audit has to be clear. If there is any disagreement with the audittee (on the schedule, time, date and even scope of the audit) it has to be sorted out before the audit.
2. The Auditor is always a person who has at least the ISO:9001 Lead Auditor Certificate and some years of experience in construction
3. The Auditor has to prepare himself before the audit: He/she has to read carefully all the applicable documentation like quality procedures , applicable standards, contractual requirements, Method Statements, ITPs and any other relevant document.
4. It is preferable if the Audit is performed by 2 persons: One Lead Auditor and one helper, witness or specialist. The more eyes see the evidence, the better and more objective the output will be.
5. There has to be objective evidence for every finding (conforming or non-conforming): photos, photocopies of documents and records (today’s digital cameras with high resolution make it easier to just take a picture of the document instead of photocopying), digital records, files and anything else that might be useful to support a finding.
6. The Audit Report has to be issued within 2 weeks after the Audit: There are many auditors that prefer to issue the report immediately. For me this is not enough and it results in poor reports. There are many times (especially in a construction site) that you need to go back in the office to check drawings, contracts, specifications and other documents or records. There are even many cases that the audittee cannot provide evidence of confomity immediately (documents, records etc) so he has to agree with the auditor to send over the required documents within a reasonable timeframe. In my opinion the Audit Report should be issued within 2 weeks.
7. Any finding during the Audit has to be agreed at the closing meeting: If it is not agreed during that meeting, it shouldn’t be stated in the report and shouldn’t be raised as NCR or observation or else.
All of the above, provide some basic practical rules that have to be followed in any Audit (and probably not only in the construction industry).
If the audittee is someone within the project, it’s always helpful before the Audit , to have a friendly chat with your colleague on what will be checked and how.
The Auditor should also have in mind that the output has always have to be compared with something similar in the Project (extremely important when auditing subcontractors) so that a base line is set up.
Auditing in the construction industry is a pretty demanding process and can lead to difficult situations because “politics” are always a signifiant factor in the equation. This is why it’s always extremely important that there is common sense and practicality on any decision and finding.