A key requirement of the SER Scheme is the auditing of members. It is through the process of auditing that the activities of Approved Certifiers and Approved Bodies are monitored to see that the legislative and scheme requirements are being met. Until the COVID-19 pandemic, SER had always conducted its audits face-to-face, but as a result of the measures taken to combat the pandemic a process of remote monitoring was introduced.

Revision of Audit Procedures

SER’s Audit Procedures have now been revised with the agreement of the Scottish Government’s Building Standards Division to incorporate learning from the remote monitoring process as well as to allow for on-going restrictions and changes to ways of working resulting from the pandemic. In addition, a full review of the procedures and appendices has been undertaken to incorporate feedback and resulting changes required since the last version was published in 2016.

Audit Formats

The new Audit Procedures therefore allow for audits to be conducted either in-person or remotely, or as a hybrid with some parts being conducted remotely and some in-person.

In general, the format of any assigned audit will be agreed between the Auditor and the Approved Body and Approved Certifier(s) to be audited. However, there may be circumstances where SER considers that the audit should be conducted either remotely or in-person, in which case the Approved Body and Approved Certifier(s) will be informed of this at the time of the audit assignment. If any Approved Body or Approved Certifier has concerns about the agreed format of an audit, they should contact SER Admin immediately. The process also allows for flexibility if it becomes necessary to change the format part way through the audit.

The hybrid option allows for project records to be supplied in electronic form, but meetings held in-person, and therefore means it is no longer necessary for those practices who do not work on paper to print out all project records in advance of an audit. Note however that the electronic records will need to be uploaded to the agreed sharing platform for the Auditors to review in advance of any in-person meeting.

Main changes to the process

Number of projects selected for audit

The number of projects selected for possible audit will be determined by the Lead Auditor who will take into consideration the number, types, values, and risk classifications of projects certified and the declared experience of the Approved Certifier. If the Approved Certifier has certified a significant number of projects since their last audit or since joining the scheme, it is likely that more projects will initially be selected for audit. However, the number of projects audited for each Approved Certifier remains unchanged at a maximum of five.

Initial online meeting

All audits will commence with an online initial meeting with both Auditors, the Approved Body Certification Coordinators and the Approved Certifiers being audited. This will confirm arrangements for the audit including the audit date as well as an explanation of the objectives of the audit, the scope, and the criteria. Please see section 6.2.1 of the new Audit Procedures for more information about the initial meeting.

Initial upload of project records

Following notification of the certificates relating to the projects to be audited, initial records for all selected projects must be uploaded to the sharing platform agreed with the Auditors. The initial records should include as a minimum:

  • a scoping and planning document
  • any drawings relied upon for the purposes of certification as indicated on the certificates
  • any records indicating how compliance with the standards was established

Note that what is being requested at this stage is briefer than those project records that were required to be uploaded during the remote monitoring process.

Notification of projects to be audited

As previously, and whether the audit is remote or in-person, the Approved Body and Approved Certifiers will be advised of the five projects selected for audit on the morning of the audit date. The Approved Body must then ensure that on that date the full certification and project records for those projects selected for audit are made available to the Auditors in the format agreed at the initial meeting - this may be either electronically or paper copies.

As previously, and whether the information is being provided electronically or on paper, sufficient information must be provided to enable a meaningful assessment of the projects to be audited.

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