The purpose of this communication is to provide existing and potential clients with information additional to that already available in the public domain in respect to COVID-19 and the Coronavirus.
Statutory, regulatory and corporate measures in place aimed to prevent further cases of COVID-19, along with the inherent risk associated with contracting and transmitting the Coronavirus, are having a significant impact on the ability of our Audit Team Members to physically enter Client sites. In response, and consistent with IAF ID 3:2011 “Management of Extraordinary Events or Circumstances Affecting ABs, CABs and Certified Organizations”, Equal Assurance has established and maintains a COVID-19 Response Plan, summarised for Client purposes as follows:
(i) Establishment and maintenance of ICT processes: Consistent with policies established by the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and member accreditation bodies (e.g.: JASANZ), Equal Assurance has established processes, and is in the process of being granted accreditation scope extension, for IAF MD4:2018 “Use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Auditing Purposes”. This will provide Account Managers and Audit Team Members with ICT methods and tools including:
- meetings by means of teleconference facilities, including audio, video and data sharing;
- audit of documents and records by means of remote access, either synchronously (in real time) or asynchronously (when applicable);
- recording of information and evidence by means of still video, video (including drones) or audio recordings; and
- providing visual/audio access to remote or potentially hazardous locations.
(ii) Establishment of Remote Audit facility through Qdos: Available now through the “My Qdos” part of the Qdos Client Portal, existing clients are now able to submit documented information to constitute the audit evidence necessary for our Audit Team Members to complete a partial or full remote Audit. Instructions, terms and conditions are detailed as part of this facility.
Training has recently been provided to Audit Team Members, Account Managers and others, in respect of these facilities and processes. So as to avoid a single method that many not suit all clients, the training has focused specifically on working with our clients on a “case-by-case” basis to understand the risks and opportunities associated with remote auditing and the use of ICT in this context, and agree to a specific method of conduct. It is therefore imperative that existing clients communicate with their Client Manager and/or Account Manager as early as possible to as to enhance the audit outcomes whilst providing minimal disruption and inconvenience to people and operations.
Changes are occurring at such a pace that some challenges in respect of implementing our COVID-19 Response Plan may be experienced. Equal Assurance personnel have been asked to be patient and apply the necessary empathy with clients. We ask for the same in return, and thank you in advance of this cooperation.
Please also be assured that our COVID-19 Response Plan has also included a review of our own existing business continuity plans so as to provide confidence in our capacity and long-term viability. This includes redundancy in and increased access to our leadership team.
Global action in response to the Coronavirus has been extraordinary and, whilst we will continue to update new and existing clients with any additional changes, we remain confident that these actions will in due course allow us to return to more normalised operations.
Please contact us should you have any further queries.