By Mike Richman
This regular column in The Auditor is intended to shine a light on the people, standards, and events that mean the most to auditors and registered organizations.
In this segment, we chat with Wendy Edwards, the group quality manager at Prolife Foods Ltd., which has the stated purpose of delivering “great food with obsessive service” within the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) category. She is offering a presentation titled, “What’s My Problem: What the Future of Auditing May Look Like From a Customer Perspective” during Exemplar Global’s forthcoming Future of Auditing Expo.
Mike Richman: So let’s start with the obvious question: What will the future of auditing look like from a customer perspective?
Wendy Edwards: That’s a great question, and I think the answer is, “It depends.” For high-risk, high-value, fast-paced industries, opportunities such as real-time auditing with artificial intelligence, immediate feedback on changes if your risk profile changes, compliance… these are all real possibilities. For low-risk organizations like mine, I think the future is going to be more focused around just streamlining and reducing some of the waste in the way we exchange information between our business and the stakeholders we deal with. So really I think the solution needs to fit the problem.
MR: What can registered organizations do to enhance the value of the auditing process?
WE: I think being well-prepared to ensure that the time spent during the audit is adding maximum value. Chasing information or evidence can get frustrating for everybody, so for us when we have the auditor here it’s so much more than just demonstrating compliance. We recognize the skill set of our auditors and we really want to use that time to help them understand what our business does, get a deep understanding of what’s required, and make sure the processes we have are really robust. So it’s really about looking for a way to make sure that auditing time is really adding value.
MR: Does a company like yours derive greater benefits, or maybe different benefits, from audits to sector-specific standards like SQF or more general ones like ISO 9001?
WE: We started with ISO 9001. It was great back in the day, but we opted out of it in favor of SQF, Safe Quality Food, because we make food. The mission of the Safe Quality Food Institute is to deliver consistent, globally recognized food and quality certification, and that’s just such a great alignment for us. The Global Food Safety Initiative recognition is absolutely key for our stakeholders, and it gives me as a professional some peace of mind that the standard we’re working with is both completely relevant and considering those emerging issues that are specific to the business we work in.
Exemplar Global’s Future of Auditing Expo will take place October 14–31. Click here to register.
About the author
Mike Richman is the principal of Richman Business Media Consulting, a marketing and public relations company working with clients in the worlds of manufacturing, consumer products, politics, and education. Richman also hosts the web television program NorCal News Now, which focuses on social, economic, and political issues in California. He is a contributor to (and former publisher of) Quality Digest.