Consultant, trainer, and auditor Graham Caddies is a strong advocate for upholding the quality, professionalism, and benefit of auditing. Caddies’ passion for inspiring a higher quality of auditing began in the 1980s when he was disappointed by the inappropriate and poor quality approach to external auditing taken by an organization he was working for.
“The way they were doing it was never going to address the problem of safety,” Caddies says. “They weren’t addressing the business or culture, and they weren’t incorporating it in a way that people could understand how the work environment could impact their health, safety, and welfare.”
This experience motivated Caddies to gain more qualifications and a deeper understanding of how businesses work, including governance, compliance, assurance, and risk. It was then that Caddies became confident to voice his concerns.
“People were being certified as quality organizations and quite frankly they were delivering a poor product,” Caddies says. “Predominantly, it was a ‘tick and flick, show me the paperwork, walk away, and you are compliant exercise.’ But they weren’t auditing from the context, risk exposure, and how the organization actually operates, which was inferred in the old standards but is now a requirement with the new standards. The focus has to be from a context and risk point of view and how the organization actually operates.”
Committed to making a positive change, Caddies started Advance Profit Plan in 1994 to help businesses improve, grow, and incorporate the necessary requirements through coaching, mentoring, auditing, and training. Ultimately, Caddies hopes his business can help to improve the quality of auditing across all industry sectors and all types of organizations.
“The quality of auditing has been pulled down through poor practices in training, certification, and auditing, and unethical people,” Caddies says.
“There have been improvements, with some auditing organizations and auditors doing it thoroughly and achieving sound outcomes, but a large percentage are still doing tick and flick, show me the words, or are auditing just for auditing sake, or have the wrong focus. They are giving the profession a bad name. This is what gives me passion and drive to bring about change.”
Postulating as to why audits aren’t being done properly, Caddies points to numerous factors such as the level and quality of training, poor certification processes, organizations not knowing or defining what they require from the audit process, and poor professionalism.
“I’m not against online training, but how can you be deemed a competent safety auditor or environmental auditor by completing all of your training online in two months when you haven’t even read and unpacked the standards and understood their intent/objectives and their application within an organizations context?
“The other thing is we are not training as per competency-based training. We are just giving them the principles and the theory, but they also have to be able to demonstrate that they have the skills and capability of applying it in different scenarios. When they go through the training, this isn’t being assessed to the required depth or at all.
“[Then there’s the issue of] trainers having a piece of paper saying they are qualified, but they have no experience and are just reproducing [the course content].”
Another issue is a lack of understanding of the auditing process—both by the auditor and the auditee.
“Some auditors don’t understand the auditing process,” Caddies explains. “The organization needs to understand and define why they want the audit, and what criteria they want the audit conducted against.
“When the auditor goes in, the people who engage them don’t know what they want. They get a big wordy document that they think covers it all. But when they read it, they don’t understand, and no one knows what to do about how to improve.
“It’s about professionalism. You need to understand the complete package that you are delivering as an auditor and what your role is in helping to change the organization that has engaged you. You need to either endorse what they are doing well or make them understand what they need to do to improve and why.”
To improve the standard of auditing, Caddies offers some useful tips:
- Understand the underlying intent and objectives of the legislation or standards you are auditing against. A lot of people go into the nitty-gritty instead of understanding the objective or intent of the legislation. You need to understand how to put that into context with each organization you audit.
- Get some experience and see what can go wrong. Often just reading doesn’t impact you until you actually see it. Get with some experienced people—it doesn’t have to be an older person.
- Keep reading and updating—a lot of things interact with each other.
Caddies considers the audit client to be his main source of information.
“Every time I work with a client I believe it is a partnership where I learn their uniqueness and they learn from my experience and understanding of the standards within their context and where they are at and need to be,” he says. “Auditing is more of sharing training/knowledge/information than an auditor going in like a policeman.”
To raise the standard of the auditing profession, Caddies has a clear vision of what needs to happen.
“I believe whether you are an auditor, trainer, or a consultant, like in the financial industry, we need to be licensed and accredited,” Caddies says. “One way is to make any professional—whether they be a trainer, or a consultant—be registered/licensed.
“[We need] a partnership between industry groups, certification bodies, and other community groups to help organizations understand [the value of auditing] and to improve the professionalism of the auditing process. The governing bodies are trying to promote change and they are slowly getting there. The words are good, but we have to convert the words into practice.
“It’s not just auditing; it’s the training too. The actual people doing the work, and the people who monitor and certify. They need to lift their game and get consistent across the board.
“It has to be a concerted effort to change, and it has to be people who are passionate about actually stepping up and driving the required improvement, otherwise nothing will change. The new standards give us the opportunity to act.”