Auditing is a formal review of the processes within an industry or the workplace, designed to assess efficiency and performance, but it’s not just your processes and systems that should be audited if you’re attempting to go for AEO accreditation. For forwarders in particular, the customs department, or the process of conducting customs entries if no separate department exists, is a persistently high volume operation that has to ensure strict standards of procedure while dealing with high volumes or high value goods. Given the precarious nature of this work, it is essential that the processes as well as the management of Customs Entries be regularly and thoroughly audited.
Whilst there is no set rule as to the frequency of audits, HMRC do ask how companies keep track of their compliance with customs regulations and just taking a percentage (5-10%) of files to run through each month should be sufficient to satisfy this requirement. A checklist should be drawn up before audit and attached to the paper file, or scanned into the system if you’re working paperless, and a spreadsheet detailing file references, compliance checks, and remedial action should be kept up to date with each month’s customs audits.
Spreading the load
Although it seems a large job, particularly if you have a large volume of customs entries, the audit process doesn’t necessarily have to be done by the same person each month. Any senior staff with enough experience in customs entries can process these audits, and, if it helps you can have each such person take on a few files one day a week, which shouldn’t have too much of an impact on operations. However, you should try and have operators auditing other operator’s files rather than their own.
Problems and remedial action
Unless you’re running the perfect operation, there will likely be errors, and finding and correcting these should not be a witch-hunt. A positive way in which to implement this is by having the person who submitted the initial entry do the post entry declaration to customs, as this will not only teach them where they’ve gone wrong, but will also help them better understand the workings out behind the computerized customs declaration, as they will likely have to do the manual calculations required to do so, which will make them a more knowledgeable operator.
Repeated Errors of the Same Kind
A good forwarder should be honest enough to admit if an operator has committed several errors of the same type, and document the processes done to ensure that this doesn’t happen in the future. Further training, and more frequent audits of their files should be documented for AEO application purposes and will give HMRC a picture of a forwarder that is focused on a process of continual improvement.
If you need any assistance in any part of the AEO Application, or even some help with auditing your systems and processes to better fit quality goals, Synergos can help. As a reliable and experienced firm, we can help organisations by putting in place processes for regular, thorough and effective audits or even assisting with AEO or ISO accreditation. This external review can be of immense value to forwarders and other business alike in terms of compliance, as well as reduction of errors and targeting improvement in processes. Here at Synergos, we offer a free, no obligation consultation for businesses to review the process of auditing and better understanding the value created by regular audits so why not call us on 01484 817444 Or email firstname.lastname@example.org to start taking better control of your systems and processes?