Jump to content

  • Quick Navigation
Photo

Are Surprise (Unannounced) Audits a Good Idea?


  • You cannot start a new topic
  • Please log in to reply
15 replies to this topic

mind over matter

    Grade - SIFSQN

  • IFSQN Senior
  • 369 posts
  • 44 thanks
2
Neutral

  • Philippines
    Philippines

Posted 11 October 2011 - 05:01 PM

So, reading another thread "Allegations of Conflict of Interest" I came upon a post by our forum member Madam A. D-tor which contained the following:

.....audits are mostly announced and a lot of organisations really are fixed to do their bests during audit days.

Taken from http://www.ifsqn.com...ct-of-interest/

I wanted to talk about it, but I didn't want to take the topic of that thread too far afield. So, I am creating a thread, starting with the quoate itself. I'm sorry Madam A. D-tor I didn't send you a PM to ask for your permission. I hope this is fine with you.

Here are my questions -

Is a "surprise audit" a good idea or not?
Is a surprise audit beneficial or a waste of time/money/effort?
What are the pros and cons of a surprise audit?
Are surprise audits applicable in food industry?

Edited by mind over matter, 12 October 2011 - 04:58 AM.


StuartMarriott

    Grade - Active

  • IFSQN Associate
  • 13 posts
  • 14 thanks
2
Neutral

  • United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
  • Gender:Male

Posted 12 October 2011 - 02:48 PM

Hi There

To be blunt... does your organisation pass your announced audits BECAUSE of what you do day-in day-out? or IN SPITE of it? – the answer to this may well answer all of your questions!

If you have a robust Food Safety Management System, which you audit regularly and are satisfied upholds your due diligence defence, then unannounced (personally if prefer the term unannounced to ‘surprise’) audits provide a good opportunity to demonstrate the standards you work to – to 3rd parties or customers.

If your organisation is such that you have a ‘way of working’ on audit day, which is different to how you normally work, then unannounced audits will not be for you.

I have experienced PIU (Tesco) and AIB unannounced audits, vs. announced audits from BRC, M&S etc. and, regardless of which type, my result has always been more of a reflection of how the Food Safety systems were operating at the time – be that good or bad. Hope this helps

Stuart



Thanked by 1 Member:

mind over matter

    Grade - SIFSQN

  • IFSQN Senior
  • 369 posts
  • 44 thanks
2
Neutral

  • Philippines
    Philippines

Posted 12 October 2011 - 05:03 PM

Hi There

To be blunt... does your organisation pass your announced audits BECAUSE of what you do day-in day-out? or IN SPITE of it? – the answer to this may well answer all of your questions!

If you have a robust Food Safety Management System, which you audit regularly and are satisfied upholds your due diligence defence, then unannounced (personally if prefer the term unannounced to ‘surprise’) audits provide a good opportunity to demonstrate the standards you work to – to 3rd parties or customers.

If your organisation is such that you have a ‘way of working’ on audit day, which is different to how you normally work, then unannounced audits will not be for you.

I have experienced PIU (Tesco) and AIB unannounced audits, vs. announced audits from BRC, M&S etc. and, regardless of which type, my result has always been more of a reflection of how the Food Safety systems were operating at the time – be that good or bad. Hope this helps

Stuart


Thank you for your opinion, to which I agree to some extent, but do you think unannounced audits are not replacing supervision, management and leadership?





Thanked by 1 Member:

Charles.C

    Grade - FIFSQN

  • IFSQN Moderator
  • 18,874 posts
  • 5253 thanks
1,231
Excellent

  • Earth
    Earth
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:SF
    TV
    Movies

Posted 12 October 2011 - 05:19 PM

Dear MOM,

Well, when you walk into the production area to start an ANNOUNCED audit and the workers are just hanging up the "NO SPITTING" sign, the result is a foregone conclusion. :smile:

And, speaking as a processor, for an unannouced audit, it's an interesting exercise to see how long you can delay an auditor in the guest reception room before they get visibly upset. :smile:

All audits are a pest to somebody, sometimes everybody. :rolleyes:

Rgds / Charles.C


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


Jim E.

    Grade - MIFSQN

  • IFSQN Member
  • 150 posts
  • 22 thanks
8
Neutral

  • Canada
    Canada
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Alberta, Canada
  • Interests:Sports of course.
    Food safety for all things eaten not just what we make.
    Being able to see my kids grow up in healthy environment.

Posted 21 October 2011 - 08:26 PM

Do unannounced audits work? To an extent I think they do. We want to consider ourselves audit ready all the time and the best way to prove that is the unannounced audit. But, as Charles said above how much delay do you get before the auditor enters the plant? In days gone by he would show up at our reception and we would be on the floor in 5 minutes. Now with enhanced security in the facility we get at least a half hour. May not be perfect but a good auditor will look a little deeper and have certian areas that he has seen elsewhere or on previous inspections.



mind over matter

    Grade - SIFSQN

  • IFSQN Senior
  • 369 posts
  • 44 thanks
2
Neutral

  • Philippines
    Philippines

Posted 22 October 2011 - 01:08 AM

Additional questions -

Who should pay for the unannounced visits? (I don't think organizations are always willing or ready to pay for unannounced audits. Otherwise, only top management knows auditors are coming.)
What constitutes "unannounced audit"?


Edited by mind over matter, 22 October 2011 - 01:24 AM.


Mark Munro

    Grade - Active

  • IFSQN Active
  • 5 posts
  • 2 thanks
0
Neutral

  • Scotland
    Scotland

Posted 11 December 2011 - 11:31 PM

Speaking from personal experience of being the only memeber of the quality team in on the day of an unanounced audit (twice now) and still managing to get a good result I think they are a good thing. At the time they were a real ain because I was trying to do the job of about 3 people and deal with the auditor at the same time but getting a good result on the day proved that even under strain our systems were able to cope. Our company gets audited by at least six different bodies and it works out at at least one anounced audit a month and then a few unanounced audits thrown in. So we hardly have timme to slip into bad habits as we are usuallly working ot close of any NC's from one audit and work up towards the next anounced one. The point of unanoucced audits is to see if you are doing what you say you do all the time or only on the days you expect the auditors to be there.



Thanked by 1 Member:

gcse-fhp

    Grade - MIFSQN

  • IFSQN Member
  • 142 posts
  • 20 thanks
2
Neutral

  • Canada
    Canada
  • Gender:Male

Posted 12 December 2011 - 05:04 AM

. . . At the time they were a real ain because I was trying to do the job of about 3 people and deal with the auditor at the same time but getting a good result on the day proved that even under strain our systems were able to cope. Our company gets audited by at least six different bodies and it works out at at least one anounced audit a month and then a few unanounced audits thrown in. So we hardly have timme to slip into bad habits as we are usuallly working ot close of any NC's from one audit and work up towards the next anounced one. The point of unanoucced audits is to see if you are doing what you say you do all the time or only on the days you expect the auditors to be there.

Mark,
You made some good points that need to be focused on: Unannounced audits ". . .are a real ain" even at the best of times. I do not and will never recommend the got ya! approach to doing audits. Unannounced audits are borne out of distrust. They contribute very little and they foster an atmosphere of unfriendly interactions with the backdrop of lingering distrust. Never mind the inefficiencies and unnecessary stress (“ain”) that they cause to everyone (even to auditors who must risk not hitting the right day or the right time to conduct such audits). Unannounced audits hinder more than help the food safety cause or any cause for that matter. If you run an auditing firm or organization, do not conduct unannounced audits.

gcse-fhp

Edited by gcse-fhp, 12 December 2011 - 05:09 AM.

Some are timid and rob the world of the contributions they can otherwise make.
GCSE-Food & Health Protection
http://www.afisservices.com/gcse-fhp/index.html

Charles.C

    Grade - FIFSQN

  • IFSQN Moderator
  • 18,874 posts
  • 5253 thanks
1,231
Excellent

  • Earth
    Earth
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:SF
    TV
    Movies

Posted 12 December 2011 - 09:07 AM

Mark,
You made some good points that need to be focused on: Unannounced audits ". . .are a real ain" even at the best of times. I do not and will never recommend the got ya! approach to doing audits. Unannounced audits are borne out of distrust. They contribute very little and they foster an atmosphere of unfriendly interactions with the backdrop of lingering distrust. Never mind the inefficiencies and unnecessary stress (“ain”) that they cause to everyone (even to auditors who must risk not hitting the right day or the right time to conduct such audits). Unannounced audits hinder more than help the food safety cause or any cause for that matter. If you run an auditing firm or organization, do not conduct unannounced audits.

gcse-fhp


Dear gcse,

I am happy to concur with the thrust of yr unusually clear post. :thumbup:

Slightly OT but I propose that the unannounced (uninvited?) audit is a possible example of the elusive "Sporadic Calm" in yr parallel thread.?? If so, my vote may be forthcoming. :smile:

Rgds / Charles.C

Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


Thanked by 2 Members:

Foodworker

    Grade - SIFSQN

  • IFSQN Senior
  • 317 posts
  • 219 thanks
27
Excellent

  • United Kingdom
    United Kingdom

Posted 12 December 2011 - 10:56 AM

I think that there is a place for unannounced audits providing there is an agreed framework for them to operate.

It will be interesting to see how the new BRC Issue 6 protocol develops where there is an option for an unannounced audit which focuses on the factory and process rather than the 'documentary' elements. (In these cases, the factory must be entered within 30 minutes of arrival on site)

It was nice to see gcse-fhp recognising that there are problems for auditors as well. I haven't done too many unannounced audits, but when I have, the atmosphere is very different, with the auditees being cold, less open and almost aggressive.

Getting through an unannounced without significant problems is a good achievement. I don't think that the simple addition of a '+' on a BRC certificate is a strong enough recognition of that achievement.




gcse-fhp

    Grade - MIFSQN

  • IFSQN Member
  • 142 posts
  • 20 thanks
2
Neutral

  • Canada
    Canada
  • Gender:Male

Posted 12 December 2011 - 01:40 PM

Here are some marks of progress in the auditing front that I yearn for:

  • To see the companies which are audited earnestly requesting and willing to pay for third party audits even in the absence of pressure from their customers
  • To see the audited companies rejoicing when the auditors show up
  • To see customers no longer needing to force suppliers to have and pay for third party audits
Someone may argue that these are impossible dreams in the current auditing confusion. Such contention is true only because it is the confusion that we need to move away, no, run away from.

Getting beyond the current confusion will be progress indeed. The product safety community has the collective intelligence to make these three elements of my dream come true. What may be lacking are: (a.) - the will to do so and (b.) - the required selflessness on the part of profit-mongers.

Edited by gcse-fhp, 12 December 2011 - 01:45 PM.

Some are timid and rob the world of the contributions they can otherwise make.
GCSE-Food & Health Protection
http://www.afisservices.com/gcse-fhp/index.html

gcse-fhp

    Grade - MIFSQN

  • IFSQN Member
  • 142 posts
  • 20 thanks
2
Neutral

  • Canada
    Canada
  • Gender:Male

Posted 12 December 2011 - 01:54 PM

Dear gcse,

I am happy to concur with the thrust of yr unusually clear post. :thumbup:

Slightly OT but I propose that the unannounced (uninvited?) audit is a possible example of the elusive "Sporadic Calm" in yr parallel thread.?? If so, my vote may be forthcoming. :smile:

Rgds / Charles.C


Dear charles.C,

I am glad to know that you found my post to be unusually clear. I will endeavor not to disappoint you in future posts. But please let me know if anything that is not clear sneaks into my post at any time. Looking forward to seeing your vote on the "Sporadic Calm" versus "Measurable Progress" poll.

gcse-fhp

Edited by gcse-fhp, 12 December 2011 - 01:55 PM.

Some are timid and rob the world of the contributions they can otherwise make.
GCSE-Food & Health Protection
http://www.afisservices.com/gcse-fhp/index.html

Tessa Bissonnet

    Grade - Active

  • IFSQN Active
  • 3 posts
  • 2 thanks
0
Neutral

  • France
    France

Posted 02 February 2012 - 01:42 PM

Well, and lease dont all shoot me! as an ex "unannounced auditor" I can appreciate all of your comments and need to stress that before I took up the position I had already been subject to many of these audits during my time in manufacturing.



From my personal experience I can honestly say the following

Every time I have done an ANNOUNCED audit - I can guarantee that many more stupid mistakes have been made and much more last minute activity has been evident - you would not believe the amount of 1 week old HACCP reviews I have seen!


Everytime I have done an UNANNOUNCED audi t - in spite of the inital panic, most sites have pulled together extrememly well and have shown true management organisation, when issues do occur a "good" autior can tell the difference between nerves and poorly trained or maintained systems.


Many organisations now carry out unannoucned pre-audits as part of their internal audit programmes which is another tick in the box on Audit day! especially as EVERYONE knows what to expect and has an extremely good gap analysis in place !

I totally agree and can confirm that the whole point of unannounced audits is

The point of unanoucced audits is to see if you are doing what you say you do all the time or only on the days you expect the auditors to be there.

and more importantly to understand the true operational practices of the site.

I can tell you, it is lovely to sit in front of a board room full of experts who know everything and can answer all the appropriate questions. Unfortunately this is not very helpful to ANYONE as its not the day to day reality and trust me when there are problems its not the "experts" who are there at 3am on a Sunday!





,


Thanked by 2 Members:

mind over matter

    Grade - SIFSQN

  • IFSQN Senior
  • 369 posts
  • 44 thanks
2
Neutral

  • Philippines
    Philippines

Posted 10 March 2012 - 03:44 PM

The point of unanoucced audits is to see if you are doing what you say you do all the time or only on the days you expect the auditors to be there.

If you have to do unannounced audits to determine this, the company has bigger problems than whether employees are "always" doing what they are supposed to be doing.

And - If the company needs unannounced internal audits to "...understand the true operational practices of the site..." the same is true - The company has bigger problems than anything unannounced internal audits will reveal.

Unannounced audits are never acceptable in my opinion.


Simon

    IFSQN...it's My Life

  • IFSQN Admin
  • 12,528 posts
  • 1318 thanks
720
Excellent

  • United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Manchester
  • Interests:Married to Michelle, Father of three boys (Oliver, Jacob and Louis). I enjoy cycling, walking and travelling, watching sport, especially football and Manchester United. Oh and I love food and beer and wine.

Posted 10 March 2012 - 03:56 PM

If you have to do unannounced audits to determine this, the company has bigger problems than whether employees are "always" doing what they are supposed to be doing.

And - If the company needs unannounced internal audits to "...understand the true operational practices of the site..." the same is true - The company has bigger problems than anything unannounced internal audits will reveal.

Unannounced audits are never acceptable in my opinion.

Hello MOM. I doubt there’s a single company in the world that doesn’t make a few last minute preparations on the day's leading up to an audit. It's just like tidying the house before the mother in law arrives. :smile: Even the best companies that are truly committed to the FSMS will be operating at 95% most of the time and then push up to 100% come a big audit. Grade A BRC is very difficult to achieve, but a prestigious result, so it would be silly not to ensure everything is perfect.

Like everyone else Tesco are aware of this and want there suppliers to be operating near 100% all of the time hence their unannounced audits and now standards such as BRC have adopted them. In the future it will be the norm, so we'd all better get used to it.

Regards,
Simon

hand-pointing-down.gif
 
Get FREE bitesize education with IFSQN webinar recordings.
 
Download this handy excel for desktop access to over 140 Food Safety Friday's webinar recordings.
https://www.ifsqn.com/fsf/Free%20Food%20Safety%20Videos.xlsx

 
Check out IFSQN’s extensive library of FREE food safety videos
https://www.ifsqn.com/food_safety_videos.html

 

recommend-us-on-facebook.png


mind over matter

    Grade - SIFSQN

  • IFSQN Senior
  • 369 posts
  • 44 thanks
2
Neutral

  • Philippines
    Philippines

Posted 11 March 2012 - 01:24 AM

Hello MOM. I doubt there’s a single company in the world that doesn’t make a few last minute preparations on the day's leading up to an audit. It's just like tidying the house before the mother in law arrives. :smile: Even the best companies that are truly committed to the FSMS will be operating at 95% most of the time and then push up to 100% come a big audit. Grade A BRC is very difficult to achieve, but a prestigious result, so it would be silly not to ensure everything is perfect.

Like everyone else Tesco are aware of this and want there suppliers to be operating near 100% all of the time hence their unannounced audits and now standards such as BRC have adopted them. In the future it will be the norm, so we'd all better get used to it.

Regards,
Simon

If you turned up unannounced to audit the work of my team I would ask you to leave without delay so we can continue our work.

Better for everyone to add authority to the audit and its report by seeking agreement every step of the way.

Besides, people cannot conceal system weaknesses from a good auditor no matter how much notice they receive.





0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users