When performing a Quality Audit, one step must be well prepared by the Auditor is an Opening Meeting. The Opening Meeting usually represents the first chance to meet the audit clients (the auditees) in a formal setting, but it is not just a meeting which held as a formality to say “hello” to the auditees and their organization. The Opening Meeting is very important to be held particularly for the Auditors, as they can establish good audit environment between auditors and auditees, which will facilitate the smooth running of the audit. If clients feel apprehensive about the audit, this meeting can serve as an opportunity to put them at ease and clear up any misconceptions.
The purposes of Opening Meeting are:
- Establishes authority from top management for the audit
- Should help to obtain top management “buy in”
- Shows openness
- Auditor can:
o Explain process
o Set expectations
o Confirm plan
o Answer questions
o Get co-operation
Remember, relationships may be very formal at this point and the initial meeting may well be held in the chief executive’s office or the board room. A key objective is, therefore, to project a business-like approach whilst putting the auditee at ease.
Some tips for conducting meetings:
- Prepare properly
- Ensure meeting is held in a suitable place
- Have an agenda (to give structure to meeting)
- Use time carefully (be punctual)
- Explain exactly what is to happen (or has happened)
- Be objective, calm and professional
- Create a positive impression (here to ‘add value’ not nit-picking).