Remote audit in times of pandemic
The Covid-19 pandemic has led to the need to innovate the audit protocol application of companies that signed the Soy Moratorium in the Amazon. The verification procedure was changed to remote in 2020. Starting with the training format to assimilate changes in protocol from one year to the next, the process of checking the moratorium principles had to adjust to the reality of teams working from home. The procedures that helped ensure information collection, checks and data fidelity, document checks and interviews were described and formalized in the Remote Audit Guide.
Guides developed and tested in advance by Imaflora and Control Union were used as benchmarks for remote auditing practices to create these stages in a standardised format as required by the protocol. The adaptation required more work in the preparation of the Audit Cycle stages, which had to be postponed for a short period of time between September and October.
Some changes were easier to incorporate, such as scheduling online conference calls for alignment steps and preparation of audit scope, and interviews, as well as discussions about progress and demand for materials. The checking of documents and evidence now takes place online through secure sharing platforms, in addition to possible demand for access to company systems by auditors, such as the Registration portal and/or supplier blocking; procurement and management systems for receipt of soybeans, contract management, and geomonitoring, when available. In the case of documents that could not be sent digitally, they were viewed through screen sharing in meetings with those involved so that selection filters could be checked. Screen captures, in cases of system access, were used as evidence by both parties.
It is worth pointing out that the audit process in the soybean moratorium was already not including a field assessment stage at the Storage, Distribution and Processing Units, for example. This step could be part of the process, according to risks mapped or scope contracted by the companies. Although weaknesses could be found in the remote assessment process, it was an opportunity for companies to increase transparency, governance and trust in the management of sensitive data.
Other changes related to content and processes in the 2019/2020 Soy Moratorium audit are in this post, which explains how companies have evolved in their transparency and reporting process.
The complete procedures on how remote auditing is performed in the current 2019/2020 Soybean Moratorium Protocol, can be found here.
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