October 19, 2020

Auditing - a Vital Control for all Systems

We are all human – we all make mistakes – and while it is not often that people truly admit to them, mistakes are often our future “best friends” in disguise.

It all has to do with how a problem “comes out” – does it leap from the computer screen shouting its message to all and sundry – daring them to ignore it, or does it seep, silently through the organisation until all sub-procedures are infected, virus-like, before simply making things go wrong left, right and centre?

I don’t know – no-one knows – that’s why they are called problems!

The best way is that they are discovered before any harm eventuates. Then the relevant changes can be put in place to avoid having that problem in the first place. But how to ensure that problems are discovered in this way (ie early on)?

Ideally people involved in the area of concern have the scope to think wider than their own field to ensure that their activities and responsibilities are covered and met in ways that do not adversely impact on their colleagues, their customers or the general public.  This is not easy as too often, without even getting as far as a silo mind-set, it is simply not possible to see beyond certain horizons usually due to lack of data.

Internal auditing by properly trained staff from other parts of the organisation is a very good next step – they at least will know if they themselves have been affected by an issue even if those in charge of that area do not!

But then comes the crunch – what happens when a problem is reported?  If the instinctive reaction is that the auditor is mistaken, then this sends several messages (all bad):

  1. The auditors are badly trained (otherwise they would not have made the mistake)
  2. The department being assessed is correct (even if it is not)
  3. Problems are the fault of the finder not the person/department doing the work
  4. Etc.

These are all, of course, nonsense.  Unless the auditor has made a mistake, then something needs to be done – not burying heads in the sand.

This sort of response is usually because people are afraid of the consequences of being found to be wrong.  Thus a No-Blame culture is absolutely necessary.  This does not mean that incompetence will be ignored, but that honest mistakes are deemed a fact of life and that retraining, or even re-allocation of an individual, should not be regarded as a punishment, so much as a new opportunity.

The second part of this blog is entitled "Catching people doing things right is a key part of the No Blame culture" and details how to find out how best to carry out an Audit effectively.

If you have any queries, or want help with audits, give us a call: 0345 600 6975 or contact us via https://securebusinessdata.co.uk/contact/

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