Until January 2020, the use of remote audit techniques, although contemplated in the mandatory technical documentation and included in the procedures, were adopted in a residual manner by accredited certification and inspection bodies. However, this solution was the key to ensure business continuity in the Covid-19 emergency period, for conformity assessment bodies as well as for certified and inspected companies.
AIOICI, the Italian Association of Independent Certification and Inspection Bodies, played, during the emergency period – through ASSOTIC (the first Italian Federation of TIC bodies Associations) and Confindustria (the main association representing manufacturing and service companies in Italy) – a crucial activity of influence and awareness of the Ministries for the recognition of TIC (Testing, Inspection and Certification) organizations as assets of strategic interest, since they perform functional and essential activities to support indispensable productions.
The international TIC organizations, members of AIOICI, have conducted an initial survey about the adoption of remote techniques. In fact, the sector has proven capable of evolving from traditional on-site to innovative remote in all circumstances that would guarantee its full effectiveness. The relationship with some bodies that have only partially or even hindered the use of remote techniques, remains to be investigated.
Faced with an initial scepticism, the client companies responded positively to the introduction of remote techniques, noting the opportunity to manage audit times better than before and with greater flexibility although there is no direct relationship. The stability of both IT links and network is considered fundamental in order not to make communication even more difficult.
Finally, the organizations interviewed suggest a reflection on the greater environmental sustainability of remote activities, an aspect to keep in mind when we can return to the so-called “normal life”.