Before Audit : Things to Pay Attention to

As auditors, we have experienced many different factories and concluded some interesting lessons learnt for factories that to be audited. Although it is of great importance to factory to get right score, not every factory knows how to face the audit. Sometimes, an overall performance not that good factory may miss a few points in here and there, they might pass the audit. On the other hand, an HSE and labor practice relatively mature facility may fail to pass due to one or two key aspects. We would like to share these thoughts for factory management.

Understand the rules of game

Many factories which directly talked to brands have the convenience of communication, therefore they know better about the rules. However, examine from the whole supply chain, there are still many factories obtained their order from licensee or other agent. In this case, factory management doesn’t have direct communication with brands. It becomes an unfair testing to these factories when they don’t have clear knowledge of the standards and how to meet the standards. Management of these factories were willing to invest in their effort without knowing how they were measured and where were the red buttons. One time, we audited a factory which owned by a couple, they showed strong hospitality when meeting us, while we setting up the laptops, they pulled a very old extension cord to help connection. There were sparkles when we firstly tried to plug in! They may not aware that, the old and with sparkles extension cord had already violated the electrical safety rules. In another case, the management did not know which document was the code of conduct, not alone where to post it. We would suggest factories to study the standards and know its respective practices in the industry. When where is needed, it is better to have consultant for deeper knowledge.

Keep away from ‘Red Buttons’

There are certain areas that can be tagged as red buttons. Nowadays, child labor, forced labor, social insurance, and OT are sensitive areas in labor to factories. If factory had missed points in these areas, even other performance were quite satisfied, would fail to pass the audit.

Take social insurance for example, due to different regulations and system limits in different areas, if factory could not ensure it is acceptable with brand, it would be better to have a clear communication with brand before the audit. These situations could help auditor state the issue in a more objective way.

To improve overall performance, you cannot only rely on the auditing activity. It requires long-term commitment and improvement. We hope the audit is a kind of driving force, rather than a burden to management.