RTO: It’s a week away from my RTO’s audit, what should I be doing?
You should make sure that you have received an audit agenda from the auditor which will outline the way and order in which the audit will be conducted. Some auditors send the agenda out only upon request, automatically a week before, and some the day before the audit. The agenda will help you make sure that you know what will be covered and help you double check that you have everything available that you need.
Once you have the agenda, run through it and make sure you know the sorts of evidence you will use and refer to in each section of the agenda.
It is also a good idea to make sure that other staff know that an audit will be being conducted and on what date so they can make themselves available to assist if needed.
RTO: What happens on the day of the audit?
The order in which an RTO audit is conducted can vary from auditor to auditor and the same goes for the auditor’s approach and style. However the principles for conducting an audit are the same across the board and each auditor is there to check your compliance with the same framework (although different audits may focus on different standards, qualifications, staff etc).
An audit will usually commence with an opening meeting where the auditor will take you through the day’s proceedings and confirm the arrangements for the audit. Usually during this meeting you will be given the opportunity to give some background information about your RTO.
After the opening meeting the audit will commence and the auditor will begin asking you questions and asking you to provide evidence that supports each standard. Usually the auditor will be taking notes as they go of the conversations they have with you and the evidence that you present. Audits may not run through from one standard to the next. Some standards cross-reference to other standards so auditors may collect evidence for standards out of chronological order. If you are not sure where they are up to in relation to the standards, just ask.
If you don’t have evidence in the audit room with you that you need throughout the day, there will usually be some opportunities to go and find the evidence to present to the auditor. However, audits are usually a jam-packed day with lots to cover and the auditor will need the key person to be readily available to answer questions and to help keep the audit progressing. For this reason, it is a good idea to have helpers available who can go and find documents/ evidence and bring them to the audit room for you.
Usually, but depending on the auditor, you will get feedback along the way. Take notes as you go of the feedback you are given by the auditor because not everything will be written in the report and feedback during an audit can be used to help you improve.
At the end of the audit, there will usually be a closing meeting. The closing meeting is used by the auditor to give you formal advice about their audit findings against each standard. It is not an opportunity for you to present new evidence as the audit has now concluded. You should make sure you understand the findings and may ask questions however usually the findings will be made very clear in the written report.
RTO: When will I receive my RTO audit report and what will it tell me?
The timeline by which you will receive your audit report varies from auditor to auditor and regulator to regulator, however it can usually be expected within 4 – 14 days of the audit occurring.
The audit report will outline the findings (whether compliant or not-compliant) against each standard audited and provide the reasons for the finding. Reports can be brief and will not list all the evidence provided but rather it is used for the auditor to concisely summarise findings, any issues identified and rectifications to be made.
RTO: I’ve had my audit and non-compliances were identified… now what?
When non-compliances are identified you will usually be given a period of time to rectify the non-compliances, however in some instances it may mean that your application (if applicable) may be rejected. For example if you have critical non-compliances for an extension to scope application or an initial registration, this may mean your application is rejected and you need to start again.
If you are given the opportunity to rectify, the severity of your non-compliances will determine the actions you need to take. You may need to put in place and implement a plan to rectify the non-compliances and keep internal records of this for the next time you are audited, you may need to rectify the issues and provide evidence to the regulator within a certain period of time, or you may need to rectify and demonstrate this at another on-site audit. The letter you receive from the regulator will advise you of this.
If rectifications are required and you do need to demonstrate these to the regulator, you are usually given a short period of time in which to respond. So, if you know what the issues are at the end of the audit, don’t wait for your report and the letter from the regulator, get fixing quickly so you have time to fix everything required by the due date!
RTO: I’ve put in my rectifications, then what happens?
If you’ve had to submit rectifications, this is your second chance to demonstrate compliance. From the information you supply in your rectifications, the regulator will make a final decision about your registration / application. I have seen this decision making period take a considerable amount of time and I’ve also seen rapid responses from the regulator. Advice about rectification decisions are advised in writing.
I hope the information provided in part 1 and 2 of this article have been useful in helping you prepare for your audits.
RTO Advice Services offers a range of services in relation to RTO compliance and auditing including conducting internal audits, helping prepare for external audits and also responding to rectification requirements, so please contact us should you require any assistance for your next RTO audit.
If you think there is anything I have left out of these articles or have any comments or feedback I would love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org