Preparing for Opening-Closing Meetings

This is a checklist of tasks to do or check prior and during the opening meeting, as well as items to go through during the closing meeting to ensure a smooth audit from start to finish.

Before the Opening Meeting

If you have a backroom, you may wish to do a dry run to ensure staff know their roles and responsibilities. If you are using AuditMan make sure you assign audit roles (team leader, team leader, auditor, etc.).

Pick a boardroom away from office high-traffic routes and as much as possible, away from sources of noise such as the staff kitchen, manufacturing areas and where telephones ring constantly (customer support).

If you have more than one auditor onsite, ensure there are separate rooms dedicated to each. We recommend having the opening/closing meetings in a boardroom and then moving to two smaller meeting rooms for the audit.

Print out the Audit Plan and place it around the table for all opening meeting attendees.

Ensure there are ample supplies and refreshments in the room. They will be your most important guest in the next day or so.

Make sure the room is air-conditioned and there is just enough sunlight to keep the spirits up.

Ensure company staff are aware of the audit, and there is a dedicated person (e.g. Quality Manager, Receptionist) to take the auditor to the boardroom and to help them get set up until others join.

Write down the WIFI login information and have it handy for the auditors. Your company IT policy may require creating a guest login for them which would require notice in advance.

Usually auditors arrive approximately 5-15 minutes early so plan accordingly.

Have a brief opening meeting presentation, summarising the company background, latest and key changes within the organisation, information on products and services.

If this is the first time the auditor comes to your premises, have a sample product ready to show them, if possible. Auditors’ brains function better when there is a sense of familiarity, and when they can visualise what you are talking about.

Upon arrival and During the Opening Meeting

Show the auditor the bathrooms, and emergency exits. Take them to the dedicated boardroom.

Provide them with the WIFI login information upon arrival.

Give the auditor the list of opening meeting attendees and their roles prior to start.

If this is the first time your team is meeting the auditor, let the key staff introduce themselves to the auditor. Keep it very brief. Keep it friendly but professional. Use emotional intelligence skills to identify if the auditor is (1) friendly or distant (2) talkative or more of a listener (3) visual or auditory person. This will determine how your audit response approach will be. We will get to more details in another article.

Confirm your mindset: (1) State that you see the audit as an opportunity to find any gaps in the system and improve on your processes. (2) Let the auditor know that your team will be fully accessible to make sure you’ll get all you need.

Most auditors like to request something and while they are waiting review something else. Our AuditMan platform comes with the workflows you need in order to ensure smooth audit-related communications, and to ensure all requests are handled effectively and without errors.

Most important topics to discuss during opening meeting are changes in the organisation activities, QMS, suppliers, product, key staff changes, questions regarding how the audit will be conducted, changes regarding audit session times (e.g. production inspection), any staff unavailability, previous year non-conformances.

Closing Meeting, Post-Audit

It is highly recommended that the top management team attend the closing meeting.

Ensure you have gotten the audit evidence back from the auditor if they are hard copies.

The auditor will take you through any findings arising from the audit. Make sure you understand the findings (i.e. what requirement is not being met), clarify if required.

Confirm what are the next steps. The auditor may need a Corrective Action Plan from you (in this case confirm the expected timelines). Ask for an estimate on the audit report.

Thank the auditor for being thorough and reiterate that you see the audit as an opportunity improve on your processes.

For hard copies, ensure the original documents are separated from photocopies and print outs (physically, and also through use of stamps). We have heard of several cases where originals were shredded by mistake during post-audit clean up.

Once you receive the audit report, confirm receipt. Review the report and ensure details are correct and as agreed upon.

Usually you will need to raise a CAPA for each audit finding and follow through until closure. These are later used as evidence of non-conformance closeout.

Spend enough time on identifying a root-cause. You can use any method (e.g. fishbone, 5 whys). Acceptance of your Corrective Action Plan will heavily depend on this.

Send the Corrective Action Plan to the auditor and wait to hear from them.

Major non-conformances usually require another visit to close them. Minor non-conformances are usually reviewed at your next annual audit.

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