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A well-conducted audit usually tells a story … an account of a business’ plans and  activities, it identifies the players and roles, of delivery on objectives, and reviews the outcomes on how to do it all over again.

Characters can change along the way and someone may have discovered a better way to perform certain tasks. The plot may take some unanticipated turns to accommodate arising problems and the path to the original goal may be shortened or protracted, remapped, or even abandoned in favour of a more desirable mode of transport.

Process control, planning, innovation, corrective action, and continued improvement are indicators of a functioning and effective quality management system. Rather than focusing on an outcome that is fairly certain, it’s worth reflecting on how, thinking and talking of an audit as an interesting story, removes the illusions that constrain the audit process.

An auditor’s role isn’t to assess the final product. It is to ensure that the processes and system that result in a conforming product are well-controlled, appropriate, and effective. Circumstances may change over time and Covid-19 is the perfect example.

Failures and lapses can impact on an organization’s ability to manage change. What was appropriate a few years ago may no longer be relevant because it cannot demonstrate repeat-ability, traceability or fulfillment of changing requirements. Practices that foster agility, creativity, and responsiveness facilitate the ability to address evolving needs.

The auditor should be interested in how the requirements of local and international standards have been applied. It should be able to demonstrate that the application of such requirements prove to be a better way. Demonstrating that one doesn’t have to slavishly conform to standards while thinking inside the box.

Accounts such as these may not be the stuff of legends, but they do tell audit stories. Considering the economic landscape and the myriad of constraints faced by the average organization of today, it makes for good storytelling.