When was the last time you did something for the first time?
For me, that was last week, as last week my RTO (RTO Answers Pty Ltd), was audited as the first RTO in WA under the Standards for RTOs 2015.
I can report that the audit outcome was one that I was happy with. Whilst not a perfect score, (one non compliance for the want of greater detail in the mapping of a summative assessment and a couple of opportunities for improvement in my TAS doc and Marketing), my preparation and the method used to prepare, was one that helped me immensely. All of the evidence required for the audit was a click or two away before it was up in front of my Auditor in the 60″ TV screen.
Recommendation 1 – Share the responsibility of audit prep with other members of the team.
Despite having prepared many clients for their registration audits and having participated in too many to count, I have to acknowledge that the pressure that comes to those that are responsible for the audits outcome, is always something that should be planned for and managed. In the larger RTO, the responsible person should not be left to carry the pressure themselves. RTO audit preparation should always be a collaborative effort and a burden shared by many.
Recommendation No. 2 – Have a clearly defined plan to work through your audit preparation. Don’t try and get it done in ‘just the nick of time’.
This last few weeks, like so many other busy RTO Owners, RTO Managers and Staff, I prepared for the registration audit in the midst of my existing routine and current workload responsibility, using every available moment to fine tune and cross check my quality approaches and points of compliance that I anticipated would come up at audit. It is that juggle of responsibilities that must be managed or else the added pressure is hard to bare.
Recommendation 3 – Know where your evidence is and why it satisfies the compliance requirement of each standard. Double up on evidence wherever possible.
Even though my audit was the first in WA against the New Standards, my Auditor came very well prepared, with a list of questions to go through against each standard. The audit started from Standard 2 and worked through to Standard 8, asking questions and requesting evidence of compliance. Time at the end of the day was then allocated to a review of Standard 1.
Recommendation 4 – Have a friend in the Audit.
A Quality Management System (QMS) is like a friend in the audit, it will support you and contain all that you need in the audit. The ‘Audit Answers’ QMS contains a ‘Compliance Review Checklist’ for each standard to aid an RTOs regular review of compliance against each standard. What makes this a strong Quality Assurance approach is that if you follow the ‘Review Calendar’ evidence is built and maintained over the period of time and you won’t lose track of where you are at, as evidence continues to build records of compliance that are retrievable against each standard and clause.
Recommendation 5 – Be respectful of the Rule Keepers
What may have satisfied compliance in the past may not now. Be ready for the goal posts to have shifted, judgement of compliance is always open to interpretation and may vary from one audit to another. So be ready for surprises and respect the audit process and judgement because its an ever changing environment not just for RTOs but also for Auditors.