Stress is caused by lack of information.

There are just eight of us in the management team at Westaways – equally split female and male.  As a team we face new challenges every day. We are experienced and we can cope with the unexpected.

However recently I have been preoccupied maybe stressed, but the moment has passed. Let me explain.

As a food manufacturer we have a duty of care to produce safe food. The BRC Global Food standard helps us focus on the detail that needs to be in place. If we use this scheme, we have an annual visit by an auditor who will review the records and how we operate, they then give us a grade.

To date these audits have been scheduled and planned, however as part of the development of the scheme we have been expecting an unannounced audit. This happens once every three years. This is different to the unannounced Ofsted visits, which are generally triggered by a qualifying complaint.

Issue 9 of the BRC

A new standard was issued last year and audits to this standard started 8 weeks ago. It places strong onus on the role of senior management in committing to continual improvement and companies creating a culture of excellence.

The standard comes with guidance notes, however this where the uncertainty creeps in. These notes and the standard are open to interpretation. Many companies will use an external consultant to ensure any detail is addressed.

As a small team with limited resources this has been challenging. We do not have the spare resources to bring in an external consultant to help us understand the intricacies of the new issue. Our audit window is 16 weeks from March – to end of June, as a small team this means we cannot book holidays, we just do not have the depth within our team.

This week

9am this Wednesday a car pulled up in the yard. I was immersed in the price of pork, next thing I knew it was the opening meeting of our unannounced audit. My initial reaction was surprise and then relief. I knew the team was ready, I knew we were looking good. The stress I had been under just melted away, and I know it was the same for the team. Now its Friday, the audit is over and we can get on with the day job – And book those holidays!

Provisionally, the results look good!

Let’s make sausage.