SETWorks

How To Survive a Virtual Audit

A Q&A with Learning Opportunities/Quality Works (LOQW) Director of Human Services & Operations Kaci Reynolds.

Three LOQW employees holding a CARF accreditation certificate
LOQW employees receiving CARF accreditation after their virtual audit earlier this year.

Virtual audits have become a popular way for funders and stakeholders to evaluate IDD programs without having to come on-site. It’s a trend that’s likely to persist even after the pandemic fades — and for good reason.

 

Virtual audits have the potential to save time, reduce travel and administrative costs, and minimize disruption to your agency’s day-to-day operations.

 

Even so, undergoing your first virtual audit can be stressful. There’s definitely a learning curve when it comes to both the technology and the process.

 

To help you prepare, we sat down with Kaci Reynolds, Director of Human Services & Operations at Learning Opportunities/Quality Works (LOQW), a CARF-accredited disability service agency in Missouri.  

 

Kaci shared what it’s like going through a virtual CARF audit, how her team prepared, and her tips to help your first (or next) virtual audit go smoothly. The following excerpts have been edited for conciseness and clarity. 

LOQW had a 100% virtual CARF audit in 2021. What was it like going through that audit virtually?

Kaci: As far as the CARF meeting, it was actually kind of convenient! LOQW has six offices, so we could just all log in together instead of having to travel to each office. Then the auditors could talk to each office separately. 

 

The audit itself went really smoothly. CARF had to do a tour of our building, which was done on an iPad so that we could move around and show them things. The rest was done in Microsoft Teams.

Do you use Microsoft Teams on a regular basis? If not, how did your team prepare for that?

Kaci: We’ve used Zoom a lot, but we hadn’t really used Microsoft Teams, so we did some practicing on it to prepare. It was fine, except that it’s not very compatible with Chromebook, which is what we use almost exclusively. You can’t have the actual Microsoft Teams app on the Chromebook, so you can’t even necessarily see the person talking; it just randomly picks people — so that was a little challenging. 

How did you go about sharing all the required documents?

Kaci: The documents were uploaded to Microsoft Teams ahead of time. We started folders in Google Docs that matched the folders in Microsoft Teams, and shortcutted our documents into those so that we would be ready whenever we needed to upload them. 

 

Some things, like examples of forms, we would download from SETWorks and save to Google Docs so we could upload it to Microsoft Teams when the time came. But nothing with personal information like a name or date of birth could be uploaded into Teams, so we were able to just share our screen and show them the examples in SETWorks.

Is that different from what you would do for a normal in-person audit?

Kaci: It was different, but moving forward we would probably do it a lot more like this. A lot of printing of papers happened before, and we would have a file box with these certain things in folders. I don’t think we would ever go back to that. Going forward, we would have it virtually set up in folders where we could access it from our devices.

You have another TCM CARF audit coming up in 2022, which will be all virtual as well. Now that you've been through one virtual audit, what (if anything) will you do differently to prepare for this next one?

Kaci: We feel a lot more confident with our process and knowing what to expect from a virtual audit.

 

One thing we are doing differently is not uploading so much right off the bat. For our first virtual audit, we put a whole bunch of stuff in our folders that we wanted to have there in case we needed to validate something. We uploaded an overwhelming amount of stuff to Microsoft Teams. This time, we’ll only upload the stuff that’s on the list and have the rest ready in case we talk about it. 

What tips do you have for someone who's getting ready to go through their first virtual audit?

Kaci: Being organized is very helpful. You already know all of the information, so that part is going to come easily — but make sure you have everything lined up so you’re not fumbling around looking for something. 

 

The other thing would just be trying to make a connection with the auditors. It’s a little more difficult during a virtual audit, but still try to figure out a way to connect.

Thank you Kaci!

Learn how SETWorks can help you get organized and streamline the audit process, both virtually and in-person.
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