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How the Desk Audit works and what to expect?

SQF Desk Audit Policies Scoring

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#1 ShannonH

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Posted 13 May 2014 - 05:39 PM

In the SQF Code 7.2 it clearly states "Desk audits are not scored." (3.3)  So here is my question does this mean that no matter how screwed up our policies or paperwork might be was can still be certified?  Not that I am planning to have my documents out of order, but due to our rural location all of our audits in the past have been done back to back in the same day and we were planning this for our SQF 2 audit.  Anyone have some insight on how this desk audit works and what to expect?  Thanks in advance!



#2 Mr. Incognito

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Posted 13 May 2014 - 05:59 PM

No.  You have to have all of the policies and procedures in place that is required by the FSSC code.  If you have minor issues the auditor will direct you in what to take care of and you'll have until the audit to have them fixed.  If your system is severely lacking they can, as with any other portion of the audit, walk away and tell you that you are not ready.

 

They are going to basically go code item by code item (they have a question list) and ask what you have to satisfy (X section of code).

 

In order to make your life much easier what I suggest is that you set up one binder with every item in order tabbed out by section of code. Put all of your policies, forms, and other paper items in the exact order of the code so that all he has to do is take your binder and flip page after page and check off that you have everything in your system.  It will be long and boring for you as you sit there watching him look over every page but it's easier than searching for different documents in different binders.  Have a Xerox copy of your signed management commitment statement right in there also along where it falls in line with the code.  Every single document that is a part of your system that satisfies each part of the code... put it in there.  BIG BINDER :shades:


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#3 Setanta

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Posted 13 May 2014 - 06:56 PM

I agree with Mr Incognito. Really, a Desk Audit is pass/fail. You have what they need or you don't, hence the lack of score needed. I have two binders with a tab for each section of the code, our accompanying policy and the appropiate docuementation.

When we were first embarking on this SQF journey, we have enough documentation to satisfy Cook and Thurber and Silliker Audits, but not quite enough for an SQF Audit. They did a desk audit, said you aren't quite ready and when they came back--BOOM! Ready!


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#4 Snookie

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Posted 13 May 2014 - 08:06 PM

I have had the desk audit done electronically, where I sent them all of the documents and I got a report back that showed where we met or exceeded the standard or that we did not meet the standard as well as on site desk audits.  I have heard of companies where they will do the desk audit and the site audit at the same time.  Do both at the same time would not be my preferred method unless it is a system that has been tried and verified in other locations.  Doing them separately gives you the time to fix any deficiencies and will make your site audit much easier. 


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#5 Mr. Incognito

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 11:20 AM

I hadn't heard you could do the desk audit electronically and I would suggest not doing that only because you have the auditor there and you can ask him/her questions face to face and make sure you understand any deficiencies.

 

Also give yourself at least 2 weeks to a month between the desk audit and the facility audit so that you can correct the paper system deficiencies and have some records (depending on the periodicity) for the auditor to look over and make sure your correction meets what their expectation was.

 

It also puts less stress on you if your audits are split I would suspect.

 

You'll be fine.


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#6 fgjuadi

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 11:57 AM


 

In order to make your life much easier what I suggest is that you set up one binder with every item in order tabbed out by section of code. Put all of your policies, forms, and other paper items in the exact order of the code so that all he has to do is take your binder and flip page after page and check off that you have everything in your system.  It will be long and boring for you as you sit there watching him look over every page but it's easier than searching for different documents in different binders.  Have a Xerox copy of your signed management commitment statement right in there also along where it falls in line with the code.  Every single document that is a part of your system that satisfies each part of the code... put it in there.  BIG BINDER :shades:

 UGH, I *hate* binders.  I don't want to have a binder for every audit with different arrangements.  I hate them - they take up too much space. 

 

I use a binding machine and I have a hard copy of signed SOPs bound in nice paper with fancy covers, and basically one book for each type of record (training, internal audits, etc).  They take up less meat space & look more professional.  We never, ever look at them, because once something is printed it's uncontrolled, and I scan records before I bind them.

 

For a desk audit, the easiest way I've found is to make a spread sheet with Section, regulation, criteria met, hyperlink to document or record. That way ot's clear the regulation is being met.  People have posted pre audit checklists like that somewhere on the forum.  It's way easier if you have document control software like Sharepoint or SafeFood.   


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#7 Snookie

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 03:10 PM

 UGH, I *hate* binders.  I don't want to have a binder for every audit with different arrangements.  I hate them - they take up too much space. 

 

 

 

I so agree!!


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#8 Mr. Incognito

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 03:53 PM

Meh I'm a binder person.  Binders are easy.  Policy change -> old one out new one in.  If you bind it... you can't just remove and replace. It's easy for the auditor to flip through and whatnot.  But to each their own that's just my preference and what I did when we passed the SQF audit.

 

Plus binders are cheaper than binding equipment. :spoton:


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#9 Snookie

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 06:34 PM

I hadn't heard you could do the desk audit electronically and I would suggest not doing that only because you have the auditor there and you can ask him/her questions face to face and make sure you understand any deficiencies.

 

 

 

Like everything it has advantages and disadvantages.  It some ways it was much easier and there was communication because of questions and discussion about any perceived inadequacies before they became official (if you will), it some ways it was harder. 

 

 

Meh I'm a binder person.  Binders are easy.  Policy change -> old one out new one in.  If you bind it... you can't just remove and replace. It's easy for the auditor to flip through and whatnot.  But to each their own that's just my preference and what I did when we passed the SQF audit.

 

Plus binders are cheaper than binding equipment. :spoton:

 

There are a few things that I keep in a binder but overall I prefer not to use them.  I don't use binding equipment but in some places it is a great idea. 


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#10 fgjuadi

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 01:15 AM

Meh I'm a binder person.  Binders are easy.  Policy change -> old one out new one in.  If you bind it... you can't just remove and replace. It's easy for the auditor to flip through and whatnot.  But to each their own that's just my preference and what I did when we passed the SQF audit.

 

Plus binders are cheaper than binding equipment. :spoton:

Oh that's funny!  I'm from a lab background, so not being able to remove pages ultra easily was a plus for me (only the binding machine can do it, these pages are NUMBERED, VULGAR WORDS, and I will know if you take one.) 

 

It's totally a preference thing, the vast majority of records I've seen have been kept in binders.  I'm a sucker for the aesthetic of appearing for realz and also get a sick rush when I finish binding, esp right before an audit when everything looks so damn *good*. Also bosses and auditors like it more.  A binding machine is pretty cheap considering the hours of fun you'll have making little books.

 

It's shiny color coded little manuals I wrote!  Like a crazy person!  And I'm the only one who will ever read my demented little library, except for this ONE TIME when we will force a stranger to read it and tell us all the crazy things in it.

 

Good luck with your desk audit, Sharon.  They will probably start with an intro, take the tour/inspection, and then sit down and look at documents. If you have confidence in where you're going and can show improvement, that's a major plus. 


Edited by magenta_majors, 15 May 2014 - 01:15 AM.

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#11 Stephen M.

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 02:19 PM

I keep everything electronic. That way I can search by keyword if my brain shuts off during an audit



#12 jonboy47

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 10:06 PM

In the SQF Code 7.2 it clearly states "Desk audits are not scored." (3.3)  So here is my question does this mean that no matter how screwed up our policies or paperwork might be was can still be certified?  Not that I am planning to have my documents out of order, but due to our rural location all of our audits in the past have been done back to back in the same day and we were planning this for our SQF 2 audit.  Anyone have some insight on how this desk audit works and what to expect?  Thanks in advance!

 

Shannon:

 

The desk audit entails most of section 2, and a small part of section 11 (or whatever section is relevant to your plant).  Iis strictly there to ensure that you have all the required procedures in place, and is only done once - upon initial certification.  If you think about it, it kind of makes sense because in an initial audit there may be some items that were missed during the initial implementation, and you don't want to fail your audit simply because of a couple of oversights.  Per SQF: "The desk audit is undertaken to verify that the supplier’s SQF System documentation meets the requirements of the SQF Code."

 

 

The one exception to the one-time desk audit requirement is if a company's SQF cetification lapses and they have to re-certify.

 

Again according to SQF's code, desk audits are not scored and a critical non-conformity cannot be given during a desk audit.  Any non-conformities noted during the desk audit have to be corrected prior to an actual audit being conducted.  So basically, it's a case of "here's what you're missing, fix it and then you can be audited for certification."

 

I hope that helps.  I strongly recommend that you consult the latest SQF code, as it contains the answers I've shared with you and will likely provide any other information you need about your certifcation process: http://www.sqfi.com/documents/

 

Have a good one!

 

Jon


Edited by jonboy47, 15 May 2014 - 10:06 PM.


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#13 Tony-C

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Posted 16 May 2014 - 03:23 AM

No.  You have to have all of the policies and procedures in place that is required by the FSSC code.

 

Why would you need policies and procedures required by FSSC for an SQF desk audit? :roflmao:

 

In the SQF Code 7.2 it clearly states "Desk audits are not scored." (3.3)  So here is my question does this mean that no matter how screwed up our policies or paperwork might be was can still be certified? 

 

As other posters have indicated it is a chance to ensure your documentation is in order and for you to correct it if necessary before the on site audit.

 

SQF Code 2.6 The Desk Audit
'An independent desk audit is conducted by the certification body for initial certification. The desk audit .........ensures:
ii. The food safety plan (at level 2) and the associated Critical Control Point (CCP) determinations, validations and verifications are appropriately documented and endorsed by the SQF practitioner;
iv. The documented system is relevant to the scope of certification and the products processed there under.
The certification body shall notify the supplier of corrections or corrective action, or any aspects of the SQF System that require improvement or adjustment. The certification body will also verify that all corrections or corrective action for major and minor non-conformances have been addressed before proceeding with a facility audit.
'

 

If a certification body received a load of 'screwed up policies or paperwork' I am sure they would be extremely concerned before they even got to site and that would be bad news!

 

Regards,

 

Tony


Edited by Tony-C, 16 May 2014 - 03:25 AM.


#14 Bobwan

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Posted 16 May 2014 - 12:23 PM

Even though the Desk Audit is not scored, you will be required to fix any discrepancies that the Auditor reports before you can move on to the physical audit.



#15 Tony-C

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Posted 16 May 2014 - 03:08 PM

Even though the Desk Audit is not scored, you will be required to fix any discrepancies that the Auditor reports before you can move on to the physical audit.

 

Thanks Bob, obviously I didn't make that clear :rolleyes:

 

As other posters have indicated it is a chance to ensure your documentation is in order and for you to correct it if necessary before the on site audit.

 

SQF Code 2.6 The Desk Audit
'An independent desk audit is conducted by the certification body for initial certification. The desk audit .........ensures:
ii. The food safety plan (at level 2) and the associated Critical Control Point (CCP) determinations, validations and verifications are appropriately documented and endorsed by the SQF practitioner;
iv. The documented system is relevant to the scope of certification and the products processed there under.
The certification body shall notify the supplier of corrections or corrective action, or any aspects of the SQF System that require improvement or adjustment. The certification body will also verify that all corrections or corrective action for major and minor non-conformances have been addressed before proceeding with a facility audit.
'

 

If a certification body received a load of 'screwed up policies or paperwork' I am sure they would be extremely concerned before they even got to site and that would be bad news!

 

Regards,

 

Tony



#16 ShannonH

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Posted 16 May 2014 - 03:46 PM

Thank you to everyone with your help in understanding how the desk audit works.  I was not aware that they should be on separate days, now that I know that it makes a lot more sense!  We are working on getting a consultant to help us in this process but I have to say this forum is great.  I am really impressed in the participation of the members and their willingness to help.



#17 Mr. Incognito

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Posted 19 May 2014 - 11:21 AM

Why would you need policies and procedures required by FSSC for an SQF desk audit? :roflmao:

 

 

Ugh... Good catch :oops2:


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#18 Mr. Incognito

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Posted 19 May 2014 - 11:27 AM

Thank you to everyone with your help in understanding how the desk audit works.  I was not aware that they should be on separate days, now that I know that it makes a lot more sense!  We are working on getting a consultant to help us in this process but I have to say this forum is great.  I am really impressed in the participation of the members and their willingness to help.

 

Be careful with consultants.  I am not overly impressed with what the one the company I currently work for put together.  The training was a pure joke... there really wasn't any knowledge imparted and every answer was yes / no / I don't know.  All of the correct answers were yes...

 

Some of the paperwork also was mediocre at best.  The head guy always used to brag that he was an auditor for every standard until our FSSC (yes it's actually FSSC this time) auditor called him out on it. "How can you run a consultant company and get in all of the required auditing hours for every standard?" and then started to run down how many hours each standard requires of auditing to keep current on their requirements.

 

I would ask to see actual documents they have prepared for other companies or to put together what some of the training or documents will look like.

 

They did help the company pass certification... I can't take that away from them... but some of the work was shoddy at best in my opinion.  Remember your paying for this stuff make sure it's good.  The reason I look good here is because I'm actually rewriting some of the stuff they made.


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#19 Snookie

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Posted 19 May 2014 - 03:38 PM

It is not just consultants to worry about.  I saw an SQF system that did not meet the standard in most capacities not only pass but get a high score from a well recognized company.  It truly set the company up for failure when they had one of their major customers come in.  They nearly lost the customer and that customer now requires a specific auditing company for their vendors. 


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#20 SQFconsultant

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Posted 19 May 2014 - 04:54 PM

In the SQF Code 7.2 it clearly states "Desk audits are not scored." (3.3)  So here is my question does this mean that no matter how screwed up our policies or paperwork might be was can still be certified?  Not that I am planning to have my documents out of order, but due to our rural location all of our audits in the past have been done back to back in the same day and we were planning this for our SQF 2 audit.  Anyone have some insight on how this desk audit works and what to expect?  Thanks in advance!

 

You should go into your desk audit fully prepared. Don't lay it off on the Auditor to have write up multiple mark-offs, it's just not right and really peeves an Auditor when it happens.

 

As far as your rural location, your desk audit can be done off site and then a month later (you'll have some time to work up and answer the CARs) the Auditor can come in to do your certification audit.

 

It is very dangerous to do back to back audits with SQF, because of the requirements to make corrections, updates, etc.  In fact it's downright dumb.

 

Get a consultant to help you with preparation and then you can sail through your desk audit.


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In a nutshell we help small to large businesses to get their act together (as needed), help them to co-develop
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#21 Tony-C

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Posted 19 May 2014 - 06:41 PM

Please note that the IFSQN do not endorse any of the SQF consultants that are posting on this forum.

 

We can guarantee that the best option to pass the SQF desk audit is the IFSQN SQF Code Edition 7.2 Implementation Package for Food Manufacturers which is much cheaper than employing a consultant and is provided with technical support until you achieve certification.

 

Regards,

 

Tony



#22 Jus'me

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 10:14 PM

The desk audit is just to make sure you have the policies and procedures in place to cover the requirements of your GFSI standard.  It is just an overview of what you say you do, your allergen program, your HACCP program, your sanitation program, etc. It is during the facility audit they get into the actual documentation of the program, where you prove you are doing what you say.  This is really where your verifications and validations come into play.  The desk audit is more to make sure you understand the concept of the program and that you have the proper policies and procedures to at least address the minimum requirements of the program. It's beneficial so that you don't waste a lot of time working on a procedure and documenting it and then having the auditor come in and say well that's great, but that is not what is meant, you are deficient here.

As for making binders or binding, keep in mind document control.  Documents will be modified and updated, if you put them in permanent bindings, you will be going through a lot of binding and rebinding.  Personally I prefer electronic and only have hard copies where absolutely necessary, much easier to control.      



#23 rose32

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Posted 28 November 2019 - 09:48 PM

I agree with Mr Incognito. Really, a Desk Audit is pass/fail. You have what they need or you don't, hence the lack of score needed. I have two binders with a tab for each section of the code, our accompanying policy and the appropiate docuementation.

When we were first embarking on this SQF journey, we have enough documentation to satisfy Cook and Thurber and Silliker Audits, but not quite enough for an SQF Audit. They did a desk audit, said you aren't quite ready and when they came back--BOOM! Ready!

The Auditor will let you know exactly what you need to work on and what you are missing right?







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