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Remote Assessments prove a success 

03 November 2020

It’s no secret that COVID has forced many fundamental changes to businesses during 2020 – even in the area of assessment. Just ask Vertech Group Business Services Manager, Paul Lavender. 

With the country in lockdown and an audit looming for the WA based non-destructive testing lab, Paul would have been forgiven for feeling some concern about NATAs plans to move to a remote assessment model.  

However, the decision proved to be a successful necessity that ensured continuity of NATA  accreditation services – an all-important function of NATA that serves to safeguard the Australian community. And while some may justifiably be sceptical about the concept, those who have now completed the process have no doubts about its efficiency, integrity and impact on the quality of labs.  

“I thought it was the most appropriate solution given the circumstances,” says Paul of being assessed remotely. 

“NATA audits are incredibly valuable and useful, so I considered it a necessity to continue these in whatever was the most practicable way under the current circumstances. 

“As an auditor you get a general ‘feel’ about a facility and how the audit is going from being onsite at the location, so more than anything, I was interested to see how the auditors would achieve this level of understanding remotely.” 

While moving the process online posed its own unique technical and logistical challenges that needed to be planned for, as part of the shift, NATA Technical Assessors were provided with updated guidelines designed to optimise the remote assessment experience and give them that all-important insight into how a lab is operating. 

For his part, Paul was impressed with the way that information was gathered as part of the assessment process, without disturbing the normal operational flow of the business. 

“I believe the NATA staff and technical experts are getting everything they can from the assessments and are going about it very professionally,” says Paul. 

“We found it a very professional process with all the desired outcomes achieved. The communication, the professionalism and the adherence to the timing and schedules were a standout from my perspective. 

“My advice to anyone about to undertake a remote assessment is to Communicate early and comprehensively with the assessor/auditor. This should allay any concerns and ensure that you get the most out of the experience.” 

For NATA CEO, Jennifer Evans, remote assessment is a sign of the organisation’s agility, and commitment to its Members. 

“This has been an incredibly challenging year for everyone, so to be able to continue to provide a service that our Members still need – regardless of the pandemic – is important,” says Jennifer. 

“I would also like to extend my appreciation to those Technical Assessors who are continuing to give their time during the pandemic.  

“This support is key in allowing NATA to continue to offer its services and is particularly appreciated at this time when all our lives are disrupted both professionally and personally.” 

As the end of 2020 now nears, the industry has seen the slow return of some onsite NATA assessments – primarily in areas where Government restrictions do not prohibit them from being performed. But what’s clear is that while we’ll be returning to on-site assessments, these can also successfully be completed remotely. 

In the case of Paul and Vertech Group, the presence of remote and face to face options is a boost for the industry.  

“I do see a real value in face-to-face assessments – particularly when technical observations are required. However, there’s no doubt that for select functions, remote assessments are a viable alternative – particularly in situations like this.”