5 ways inefficient audits and bad data quality can cause real problems

Posted: 6 December 2021 | | No comments yet

The experts from Intact outline several common problems you may have come across when it comes to auditing and how to solve them.


Changing criteria, increasing demands and time constraints place auditors, reviewers and quality assurance under considerable pressure

There’s no doubt that ensuring products and services meet industry standards through audits and independent certifications is necessary in today’s world. It prevents planes from falling out of the sky and guarantees that food is safe for human consumption. However, the process can be expensive and lengthy, so we must focus on achieving the best possible results with limited time, money and experts at our disposal.

Common problems caused by limited resources

The reality is, not every audit will run perfectly smoothly, and there isn’t enough time or resources to review every single audit by hand. As a result, critical information can get overlooked, creating a series of short, mid, and long-term problems.

1.      Undetected food safety issues and fraud

Auditors have a highly demanding job. They must keep their technical knowledge up-to-date, remain highly focused throughout every audit, and determine compliance in short time frames. To make this work, auditors have to prioritise where it’s appropriate to ‘stay on the surface’ and where it’s necessary to dig deeper.

A broad audit focus comes with a big caveat. How often do we really know – as opposed to believe – which factors have the highest risk? No matter how experienced an auditor is, they can miss critical issues and even fraud in areas associated with low risk. That’s why more and more standards and organisations implement risk-based approaches and why reviewing audit results is so important.

Limited time, money and experts can force organisations to rely on random samples for audit review. While better than nothing, this process wastes time on non-critical audit results and can miss critical findings that are needed for ensuring quality and effective risk-based audit planning.

2.      Low-quality audit data

Any review or analysis is only as good as the information available. If we put low-quality data in, we can’t expect meaningful results to come out. Crunched audit time frames and cumbersome and disconnected audit tools can lower the quality of the audit data collected.

Establishing a digital end-to-end audit workflow can help ensure high-quality audit data. Professional audit solutions come with easy-to-use apps and web portals that allow you to map your complete audit process and store all your data in a centralised system. The ability to work offline within the system is a must-have to avoid issues when auditing in remote locations.

3.      Overworked, resigned and unmotivated employees

Changing criteria, increasing demands and time constraints place auditors, reviewers and quality assurance under considerable pressure. Constantly working at their limit, and sometimes even going beyond, will inevitably lead to a drop in quality over time.

We must implement better audit solutions to break the vicious cycle of food incidents leading to increased demands, which in turn results in more work and pressure, resulting in overworked and resigned staff, and as a consequence, more food incidents.

4.      Stakeholders don’t see the complete picture

With limited audit review, overworked staff and low-quality data, stakeholders often lack the critical information needed to make informed decisions to improve standards, procedures, training programmes, and, ultimately, safety and quality.

It’s likely that if you’re reading this article, you can think of a standard where a particular criterion is too specific or too vague to be useful. With more information on risk factors and root causes, standard setters could improve the impact and integrity of their standards while making auditors’ lives easier. The same information would allow auditor training programmes to focus on areas with the highest risk, leading to improved audit quality and results.

5.      Slow response to emerging food safety issues

These common problems caused by limited resources ultimately add up to slow and often too late reactions to emerging food safety risks. Stakeholders lack the hard evidence needed to identify issues and make informed decisions that mitigate threats as they arise.

Stop wasting time – work smarter

The good news is you don’t have to have unlimited time, money and experts to solve these problems. Technology has come a long way and can help you get more work done in less time while focusing on what’s important. Imagine the efficiency boost you’d get just by eliminating inefficient communication structures – and that’s only the beginning.

Smart audit analysis automation

Intelligent analysis solutions help you go beyond random samples and stop wasting time on non-critical audits. Why would you want your highly qualified and costly experts to review audits that are unproblematic to begin with? By automating your audit analysis, you can have trained software algorithms scan 100 percent of available audits, detect critical results and push them to your experts for review.

Risk-based decision making

In the end, it’s not about replacing experts, but instead giving them the tools, information and time needed to do the work they are supposed to do. Automated audit analysis takes the pressure off and allows experts to extract and understand the root causes and risk factors needed to make informed decisions to improve integrity and safety.

Watch our on-demand webinar for free to learn how you can integrate smart audit analysis automation in your work and implement risk-based audit planning.