That was impressive, but the best part was yet to come. "How long did it take to prepare for the audit?" I asked. She said her staff spent about 30 minutes preparing for the auditors. Then she added that 15 minutes of that time was making sure the conference room and restrooms were tidy.
Yes, you read that right. Their audit prep time was half an hour.
Want to know how they do this every time? There's no real secret. This company's staff is focused on processes that properly support all necessary business tasks every day.
Security, compliance, documentation, and financial accountability are all built into its processes, not added on later. When there is a new problem that is not addressed with its processes, it doesn't simply address the problem; it learns from it and adjust its processes accordingly.
If a member of the staff encounters a new problem without a process to address it, then the employee brings it to management so a method can be developed to detect and/or address the problem next time.
The company's president told me new employees are either able to adapt to its problem-solving process and high-quality mind set, or they don't make it. In her words, "It's not personal; the process really works out who makes it here."
The president also realized early in the life of the business that a key to supporting processes was the appropriate technology. Instead of using off-the-shelf software, she invested in building custom software that matched her vision of compliant and efficient processes.
Was custom software expensive? Not over time. In fact, the company can now offer significantly more services than its competitors with half of the number of employees. Because the company's software was built with the end in mind, the technology makes audits a breeze, with all necessary data immediately available.
Unlike many organizations, this company never has to really do anything to get ready for an audit. The planning on appropriate and necessary processes, plus the professional discipline to follow the processes, makes them ready for an audit every day.
For this company, audits are not the test of completion and accuracy. It holds itself to that standard every day, through processes and culture. It is a system any organization can build and maintain. All it takes is forethought, adaptability, and discipline.
Glenn S. Phillips loves the company president he just wrote about. He is the president of Forte' Incorporated where he works with business leaders who want to leverage technology and understand the often hidden risks within. Glenn is the author of the book Nerd-to-English and you can find him on twitter at @NerdToEnglish.