Taking the pain out of assurance audits

Constant changes in assurance requirements and preparing for annual inspections often create heavy workloads and generate considerable stress among growers, says Derbyshire consultant David Speller who has teamed up with Farmacy to come to their aid.

The firm’s annual Protocol Compliance Service ensures clients are fully prepared for the audit process, saving time on the day and avoiding costly non-compliances, explains Mr Speller.

“A common mistake growers make is reading too much into the requirements of the standards and over-spending to satisfy them.”

That’s where his experience as an auditor in the UK, Europe and the USA, particularly helps, he believes.

Often all that is needed is to pull all the relevant paperwork together in an easily accessible format.

“We have detailed templates written for all the current assurance schemes,” he explains.

In practice clients are taken through these question by question and the answers are typed into a blueprint manual document on a laptop.

Supporting evidence can be scanned in as needed.

The process may generate a small “to do” list of items needing attention, for example bunding a diesel tank.

A hard copy of the manual is then returned to be presented to the auditor.

“All answers are in the order of the auditor’s question form with the evidence provided for all answers as necessary.”

Cross-referencing takes care of any duplication between schemes, he adds.