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The benefits of blended audits (using a tenuous metaphor)

19 December 2022
This article by Regional Assessor Marc Pathy offers a light-hearted contemplation of the benefits of blended audits…

Last year I wrote a blog on ‘The Strengths and Benefits of Remote Auditing’ – and there were many. I said at the time that my next blog would be about the benefits of the blended audit. The blended audit has all the strengths and benefits of the remote audit (these are listed in my previous blog), with the added strengths and benefits of onsite audits. So in essence, blended audits have the best of both worlds. After having conducted a number of these blended audits recently, I feel like I’m in the right place to put forward an opinion. In this time of festive cheer, my thought process on the subject seems to have been impacted by an elven spirit…

This may not please Father Christmas as it proposes to compare the benefits of different methods of beard shaving with the adoption and advantages of blended audits. However, he may be interested in the blended approach as applied to his worldwide travel, distribution and delivery network - helping to rest his trusty Reindeer (less travel time) and to reduce global warming, thus helping maintain his home environment in the North Pole – Rudolf may well be a potential taker!

So, the story goes like this:
Recently I was shaving and I had bought myself a shaving brush and a soap bowl. This is the way I used to shave before, then I had moved over to the apparently quicker/more modern method of shaving using foam, which comes out of a pressurized can. I suddenly thought to myself ‘I’m an environmental auditor, I shouldn’t be shaving in this way, using an aerosol which emits GHGs. So, I’m going to get myself a brush and a bowl again and shave with those – and be more friendly towards the environment.’

I of course researched the fact that badgers are killed in China specifically in order to make and sell shaving brushes. These brushes are sold all over the world, so that’s not great in terms of sustainable development and biodiversity… But in terms of global warming it was better not to shave with this pressurized foam which releases global warming gases.

And then I thought, ‘Well, the change in my shaving process kind of relates to blended audits; because blended audits are a new way of doing things, supported by a new method of auditing, which is remote auditing – at least a method that has been newly used more than ever before (since the disruptions of the global COVID19 Pandemic and the impacts of lockdowns on visiting client sites in person).’ My shaving technique will be a new one, yet based on past shaving methodologies - blended audits are new, yet also based on past auditing methodologies:

I’m not quite sure how far the metaphor or allegorical link can be sustained between auditing, blended audits, shaving brushes, bowls, aerosol cans and foam – but it’s worth a try…

More Environmentally Friendly:
Using the blended audit method brings great benefits to the environment (less travelling and therefore less CO2 emissions). Using a brush and bowl to shave cuts out the use of an aerosol every time you shave => produces less CO2 (even taking into consideration heating water to facilitate the shave) => this is also better for the environment.


  1. Preparation is more complex for the Blended Audit; using a risk-based approach and dividing the audit into remote and onsite days, based on levels of risk

  2. In terms of shaving, the brush and bowl also require more preparation than simply pressing the top of the pressurized can – ideally, you need to heat some water up, open the bowl, create a lather using the brush and bowl…

Far and Close – A Better View of the Organization from Different Angles: 
Using the blended audit method allows you to see, observe and assess the system and operation you are auditing from 2 different perspectives:

  1. A distant, remote yet very document focused and detailed audit (computer screens are very good for focusing attention to detail and reviewing systems information) combined with a proximate, close, live and relationship-based observation of what is on the ground and the operational processes in action

  2. The brush, the bowl and the blades give you a similar far and near perspective. The foam is created away from the face and then applied and used on and closer to the skin

Double Visit/Passage made easy:

The blended audit gives both auditor and auditee a sense of visiting each other twice (and this is indeed the case, as blended audits cannot realistically be carried out on the same day [unless the client is very close to the auditor’s home, which makes it slightly pointless for the audit to be planned as a blended one in the first instance]). Using a shaving brush and bowl also allows an effortless and value adding double, even triple passage, from soap remaining in the brush after the first application:

  1. The first lather and shave giving a good overall sweep and clearing of the bearded visage

  2. An easily performed second lather to go into more detail and finish off the job

  3. To achieve this with the aerosol you would need to re-spray more foam onto the face to have a second go (thus creating more global warming gases)

Less Stress, Better Work Life Balance:

  1. The blended audit reduces travel time, traffic hold ups, early red eye rising for the auditor and auditee – resulting in a better work life balance

  2. The brush and lather shave is a more natural and healthier option with more standard soap containing less additives/chemicals necessitating a slightly more time consuming process – however, resulting in a more relaxing, enjoyable balance between effort and outcome

Quality of Output - Better Overall Outcome in Terms of finish and quality:

  1. More thorough audit with more viewpoints and detail (it is almost better to carry out document reviews remotely as you can analyze the documentation on a computer screen at home – going into great detail)

  2. Cleaner shave with a cleaner detailed skin surface

An altogether Better Experience: Smoother Skin with the benefit of a massage!

  1. Visiting the client onsite ‘massages’ the interpersonal part of the relationship between auditor and auditee and gives a better feeling of collaboration between the parties

  2. The brush massages your face and the result is a better sensation and feeling of total cleanliness as the end result

More Personal Enjoyment from the Whole Experience and Better Sensations During the Process

  1. Enhanced feeling of comfort and clarity during the blended audit

  2. Enhanced feeling of comfort and freshness after shaving with a brush and bowl

Next Steps

  1. Badger culling, cold water shaving, natural materials for soap bowls (rather than plastic) and single bladed razors will be subject to future considerations in this groundbreaking metaphorical journey. Not to mention the search for a better fitting comparison.

  2. My next plan is to return to a single blade razor - this is more friendly on the environment as the blades are easier to recycle and there is less/no plastic involved in the product – how can this be related to the future of blended audits? – stay posted for my next episode!