This months newsletter is focussing on Mini Auditing. (I refer to the VET Quality Framework and not AQTF)
The Standards for NVR RTOs SNR 6.2 and SNR 17.2 talk about the use of systematic and continuous improvement approach to the management of operations.
One such strategy is the use of Internal Audits – or Self Assessments against the relevant Standards in regard the VET Quality Framework.
As a Risk Management Process I recommend that RTOs conduct full Internal Audits at least on a yearly basis and/or complete Mini-Audits (in key risk areas) on a monthly basis. This will certainly
highlight any non compliances and areas for improvement in a timely manner, and demonstrate to the registering authority that they have completed risk analysis and continuous improvement activities
showing commitment as a quality education provider.
Internal Auditing is an independent objective activity which will add value to the management of operations.
The internal auditing process is also a great foundation for your corrective action program, which is part of continuous improvement. The internal audit should not be considered as a witch hunt, it
is a systematic process to help improve the business operation, to reduce risk, maintain compliance and enhance the RTO bottom line which may increase the value of the business.
What are Mini Audits?
Mini audits do not look at all areas of the operation – otherwise they would not be called a Mini Audit, rather, they look at a specific process which is a set of inter-related
activities that transforms input to output.
And so what are some of the benefits you get out of a scheduled Mini Auditing Program?
- It allows us to systematically identify non compliance, and document, then correct non compliance in a timely manner. When you are at the coal face it is easy to miss something and so the
internal auditor may find what you have missed.
- It also helps us to anticipate and then reduce risk, keeping in mind that the regulator monitors the RTO based on risk level where there might be a potential for something to go wrong
and likelihood, this gets identified during audits. And so in most cases you get a chance to act on it before it comes to fruition and yes this is part of continuous improvement.
And so, is the RTO doing what they say they are doing: e.g. Intent is the Policy and the Action is the doing word and this must be Evidenced.
- The Goals of the RTO is to provide quality education and service and be rated as a low risk provider. The ASQA Risk Assessment Framework states that RTOs will be Rated as:
Low, Medium, High and Extreme.
- Noting that a RTO can be audited at any time by the NVR, and so it is certainly an excellent ROI to ensure you run mini audits during the year (focussing on high risk areas) and a major audit at
the end of each year.
- Internal Auditors are an extra set of eyes and look for evidence of intent to action and so what you say you do, is what is actually occurring and this is backed by objective
evidence and what is objective evidence? This is data supporting existence or verity (truth) of something.
The VQF Risk Assessment Framework states that Risk relates to the potential impact on the delivery of quality training and assessment services (VQF Risk Assessment Framework, pg4) and ISO
31000 refers to risk as the effect of uncertainty on objectives (AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009).
- Mini Auditing is in one form - Risk Assessment, which is the process of identifying, analysing risks and determining appropriate ways to eliminate or control risk.
- Another benefit of Mini Audits is that it helps you to benchmark good practice, which you can then use in other parts of the organisation.
I've seen many RTOs who don’t believe there is a need for internal audits, these RTOs might fly under the regulators radar for quite some time, but sooner or later they will be audited, and these
are the same providers that end up in trouble. However, a simple Mini Audit in review of the operation in key high risk areas would certainly uncover several areas of non compliance, which are then
able to be corrected in a timely manner.
Finally, Mini Audits will help the RTO to better service its clients which may be students and also employer groups and industry and the education sector at large.
And so there is a direct correlation between internal auditing and meeting regulatory requirements and satisfying client needs. Want to know more?
2012 National VET Conference - VELG
I was a speaker at the National VET Conference and delivered a presentation on Mini Auditing. If you would like a copy of the presentation (PDF format) with associated links, click here. Copy the main file onto your system. The file and associated linked forms are free to use in
your own RTO. Please note: the files are only available in PDF format.