COVID has weakened project pipelines in hundreds of technical industries. Supply chains have been disrupted and subcontractor numbers have diminished on the back of stalled commutes and exports. Materials are in short supply. Add stress and money shortages to the mix and you have enough challenges to obliterate entire industries. A recent government study found that 42% of UK businesses had less than six months’ cash reserves in November 2010. By the time you read this paper that number will have dived to new levels.
Companies no longer have the luxury to make mistakes, but fortunately audits have the power to reduce errors and their effects. Systematic, rational solutions are particularly important in the Project Fear era, when entire swaths of industry are moving away from scientific guidance. A robust auditing structure can benefit post-pandemic businesses in several ways:
1) They Spot Regulatory Gaps, then Fill Them
Critical thinking is all that stands between you and regulatory mayhem. Without it, codes, industry standards, and best practices fall by the wayside. Technical audits are the vehicle of critical thinking, giving form to unstructured analysis. By breaking the auditing process into bite-sized chunks, they uncover gaps in regulatory requirements. Safety audits add another level of protection to field work by prioritising actions that will improve your response to ionising radiation, asbestos, and other dangers. Hazard rankings add objectivity to the process. Other important safety audits include:
- Legal requirements
- System standards
- Risk levels
- Non-conformances in your history
- Third party certification standards.
Certification audits often require annual assessments. An independent auditor can precede these assessments to ensure that you hold onto important affiliations and certifications. It’s never too early to test your site for safety. An obvious commitment to safety will stand you in good stead in the years to come. This is particularly important if you have a public company or rely on angel investors.
2) They Overcome Familiarity Fatigue
Mistakes and inefficiencies are quickly normalised in the modern business until they become effectively invisible. They even burrow into the auditing process itself, so overcoming auditor fatigue has become a challenge all on its own. A robust auditing structure forces objectivity, so it’s an excellent solution to familiarity fatigue. While much of the auditing process involves job site consultants and manual assessment, software remains the most objective optimisation expert in the industry. Fortunately, it has evolved well enough to produce surprisingly comprehensive analytics, and it doesn’t need to hop onto a plane to do so. With countries all over the world shutting borders due to the pandemic, auditing software is a particularly important boon. It can:
- Check the performance of equipment and make sure it’s producing enough return on investment.
- Generate the best techniques for determining shallow subsurface macromodels.
- Point to gaps in instrument self-tests.
- Run virtual tests to find the cheapest and most effective process for every site, including both instrumentation and techniques.
- Churn out graphical results that can be understood at a glance.
Quality assurance has never been this easy or affordable. It minimizes expensive errors so that you can make better use of scarce resources. As logistics companies and manufacturers face unprecedented challenges, it’s become crucial to create strategies that work the first time you implement them. This is not the era to try out iterative development. Technical audits can help you to achieve virtual perfection the first time.
3) They Ensure that You Have the Best Strategy for Your Site
Closing borders, cancelled flights, and staff shortages have the ability to chew up months of financing, so it’s important to arrive on-site with a comprehensive strategy in place. This is where on-site auditors prevail. They establish field presence and identify any problems that must be dealt with before your contractors arrive. Standards have a way of slipping, so a technical audit doesn’t stop here. A mid and post-survey audit will check that you’re still achieving technical compliance.
4) They Conduct Needs Analysis
COVID-19 has had drastic effects on human resources, so needs analysis is more important than ever. Every project starts with grand goals, but without an objective assessment of your staff’s experience, performance gaps, and trainable skills, your intentions will remain exactly that: intentions. A technical audit weighs your desired outcomes against your workers’ skills, then finds out how you can close the gap between desired outcomes and workable results. Needs analysis goes beyond human assets, of course. It also looks more broadly at what you need where, and how you will provide the means to get there. It uses formal systemic analysis so that objectivity is built into the audit, forcing you move beyond your assumptions.
5) They Achieve Financial Compliance
Financial institutions, shareholders, and insurers all have their own requirements of your work process. A technical audit can ensure your compliance with their needs only in so far a checking the equipment meeting technical specs, but it has a more profound effect on your finances. It prevents the risk of location closure, environmental remediation, and local municipal restrictions. A good audit attaches a financial value to every choice you make so that it can identify money drains. A robust assessment is like a valuation of your everyday habits, so it can keep you profitable at a time when the world is desperately trying to prevent a recession.
6) They Uphold Standards
Accidents are always a serious concern, but with health systems taking strain due to the pandemic, they’ve become even more dangerous than they once were. A technical audit tests for compliance with a huge array of standards to minimise medical emergencies. It’ll assess your procedures, competencies, and equipment as they relate to PAS55, pipeline safety, PSSR, PUWER, and ATEX, then compare your status to industry standards and accepted best practices so you never fall short of your social obligations. Workplace inspections and behavioral surveys fall outside the scope of traditional audits, but they’re a key part of leadership. They typically look into issues like PPE usage, waste segregation, and spill prevention.
7) They Check Your Suppliers’ Specifications
COVID has frozen imports all over the world; so many businesses are sourcing their equipment and materials from unknown suppliers. Poor choices can burn a hole in your standards before you even notice the smoke. A supplier audit keeps your standards intact by checking compliance and specifications before deficiencies get the chance to destroy your site’s integrity. International trade will continue to suffer bumps and bruises for at least another year, so this form of audit is one of the best ways to ensure that your work continues unabated.
In a pandemic-affected world, every resource needs to be protected or ailing budgets will quickly hit bottom. When you assess every phase of industrial processes, you can spot their weaknesses long before they absorb resources. Audits build a wall between you and catastrophe, but they also have an important role to play in your profitability. By tracing every aspect of your everyday work, they give you an in-depth understanding of your business. They also protect your environmental responsibilities and give your managers the information they need to improve their results. Audits function according to the “knowledge is power” trope. The more you know, the more you can improve. The more you improve, the more profits you can drive.
If you’d like to know more about the technical audits and services we offer, please get in touch.