Jump to content

  • Quick Navigation
Photo

Catch 22 in Auditing - Audit Thoroughness versus Cost


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

gcse-fhp

    Grade - MIFSQN

  • IFSQN Member
  • 142 posts
  • 20 thanks
2
Neutral

  • Canada
    Canada
  • Gender:Male

Posted 03 March 2012 - 01:10 PM

Can't have a thorough audit without sufficient time; and can't have sufficient time due to cost, particularly to small companies. What is the solution?


Edited by gcse-fhp, 03 March 2012 - 01:12 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

GMO

    Grade - FIFSQN

  • IFSQN Fellow
  • 2,700 posts
  • 696 thanks
186
Excellent

  • United Kingdom
    United Kingdom

Posted 03 March 2012 - 08:37 PM

Can't have a thorough audit without sufficient time; and can't have sufficient time due to cost, particularly to small companies. What is the solution?



Ok. Why is time so expensive? I'm part time in my job but I still manage to audit every aspect of the FSQMS (with the help of others) in a year. Or do you mean external audits?

Small companies have pressures on costs definitely but there's no excuse not to audit IMO. Audits are an opportunity for improvement. Yes, they take time but that improvement often can help with other aspects; health and safety for example, or they may even reduce waste and so reduce cost! Ok, take an example. In my site we had a problem with people using a new reel of film every time they came to run a product. This led to multiple reels of film being used which ended up being left uncovered (a food safety issue) and often these part reels ended up being thrown away (a cost issue). Then by working with the operations manager in the area we got them to get into the habit of using part reels however small the part reel was, reduced the food safety issue and saved money.

Tell me about your specific concerns and maybe I could help you think of a way of approaching it to get the result you need?



Thanked by 1 Member:

gcse-fhp

    Grade - MIFSQN

  • IFSQN Member
  • 142 posts
  • 20 thanks
2
Neutral

  • Canada
    Canada
  • Gender:Male

Posted 03 March 2012 - 09:02 PM

Hello GMO,

Thanks for your response. I meant external certification audits. It seems to me that if a thorough drill down is to be done for every aspect of, say a BRC or SQF Audit, the typical 2 to 3 days that are often scheduled for these audits will not be sufficient. However, more time for a thorough drill down may prove to be too costly for small companies. Granted, the more drill down that is done, the more effective the audit will turn out to be.

There are some exclusionary considerations here for small companies and their ability to take advantage of the upscale audit standards. It is quite likely that these upscale audits, if thoroughly done, will be cost prohibitive to small companies. Yet the food safety risks that these upscale audits assess are not exclusive to bigger companies. What do you think?

As a follow up thought, the cost of conducting the audit is one thing. It is quite another matter to consider the cost of implementing corrective actions as well as the system maintenance costs associated with certain specific requirements of the respective audit standards.

Are we able to simply say: "Just do the audits and forget the costs"? Will this be readily accepted by big, medium and small companies?


Edited by gcse-fhp, 03 March 2012 - 09:19 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

gloriaeho

    Grade - Active

  • IFSQN Associate
  • 12 posts
  • 7 thanks
0
Neutral

  • United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:UK

Posted 09 March 2012 - 02:39 PM

Hi GMO,

Its certainly an interesting question, and one that many small and medium sized businesses ponder upon at times. My own view is that before entering the world of external accreditation SME's should really consider, in depth, whether it is actually necessary for them to go down that route and more particularly, what the advantages are weighed against the costs.

If going down the external accreditation route is being considered because its customer or sales driven and the main benefit is an increase in business/profitability from customers, some of whom may demand accreditation as a part of them doing business with you, then it may be the best route to follow.

If accreditation is internally driven and the benefits to the business are internal and not likely to affect additional business/sales, then it may not be appropriate for the business to persue accreditiation. In these circumstances it may be better to use accreditation standards internally to improve your business without accreditation being and end goal. Going through the process of assessing your business against accreditation standards may produce a whole host of benefits internally, such as improved product flow, improvements in production volumes, reductions in production costs, better handling of ingredients, reduction in waste product, etc. All of which are very positive benefits to general business operatins and profitability, but don't necessarily need to lead to expensive external accreditation.

Finally, SME's may want to consider adopting those standards which can lead to a lesser level of accreditation more suited to their size, for example, in the UK the BRC, the National Farmers Union, The Food and Drink Federation and the British Hospitality Association have worked together to develop the Safe and Local Supplier (SALSA) food safety accreditation standard for SME's working in the manufacturing and supply of food. It contains elements of BRC/ISO, Legal Requirements, Best Practice and has an accreditation service. (SALSA Web Link) Other examples of lesser level accreditation standards might be used by National Trade Assocations.

Hope this helps

Regards

Gloria



Thanked by 1 Member:

gcse-fhp

    Grade - MIFSQN

  • IFSQN Member
  • 142 posts
  • 20 thanks
2
Neutral

  • Canada
    Canada
  • Gender:Male

Posted 10 March 2012 - 07:05 PM

Gloria,

Thanks for your contribution to this discussion. The points you made raise other questions for me:

1. Is there any recognition of the law of diminishing returns on the part of those who demand certification as part of doing business with suppliers?

2. Is this law of diminishing returns a consideration in the decisions to demand these certifications?

3. Should certifying bodies be held liable in the event that a company certified by them is found to have produced a product that harmed a consumer post certification?

4. What does the likes of SALSA ("lesser") standards lack that are offered by the more costly “upper scale” audit standards in terms of assuring consumer safety?

5. If there is a lack, should these “lesser” standards be used at all?

6. If there is no lack, is there any need to use the costly “upper scale” audit standards?

Regards,
gcse-fhp


Edited by gcse-fhp, 10 March 2012 - 07:42 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

gloriaeho

    Grade - Active

  • IFSQN Associate
  • 12 posts
  • 7 thanks
0
Neutral

  • United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:UK

Posted 13 March 2012 - 03:00 PM

Errrrr . . Blimey!

Well gcse . . to answer your questions (or try to) in order . . . IMHO

1. & 2. Truthfully I don't think there is much recognition or consideration of the law of diminishing returns, but the reason for accreditation in the first place is to ensure that products purchased or supplied, are safe to consume and presented to the end consumer in a safe and legal manner. To do that, accreditation has to work to a standard and to ensure that standards are met audits of standards compliance need to be carried out. Products, processes, production units, management, personnel, etc can all change massively during the life time of a contract to supply/sell, often with many small changes that add up to big ones, so going through the accreditation process over and over again does have some value. So does the law of diminishing returns actually apply in these circumstances or are all the "returns" of value, whether they be negative, positive or neutral?

3. No, I don't think certification organisations should be held liable across the board in the event that a company certified by them is found to have produced a product that harmed a consumer post certification. Typically this situation is most likely to have arisen because a certified company has deviated from their accredited processes, practices, procedures etc. In the very rare cases where the situation has arisen and there haven't been any deviations, then I think each case should be viewed on its merits.

4., 5. & 6. Lesser standards aren't usually lesser in terms of assuring consumer safety, they are usually lesser perhaps in terms of overall scope, overall requirements, overall admin and the overall costs to SME's of meeting these standards. You have to bear in mind that many companies that aspire to these standards are small, often family run, businesses in niche markets producing a very limited number of specific products, so, yes, on balance I think it is appropriate for SME's to use these type of standards, otherwise how would they be able to compete with national and international companies who have the resources to achieve what you call "Upper Scale" standards?

Mind you, having said all that, I come back to my original comment that at the end of the day it is for the business to decide what, if any, accreditation standard they choose to use. For the vast majority of food businesses, achieving the minimum standards set by regulatory authorites is more than enough to allow them to sustain their business and customer base.

Regards

Gloria







0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users