So how does your firm become registered to either the ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems Standard or the ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems Standard? Below we outline the general steps involved in granting and maintaining a certification?
1. DOCUMENT REVIEW / PRE-ASSESSMENT (OPTIONAL)
Before your pre-assessment and/or registration audit, you will submit a copy of your top level manual for review. Its contents will be compared with the requirements of the applicable standard. Any deficiencies or items that are unclear will be identified and we will request either clarification or corrective action to address the deficiency. A summary of these items will be sent to you and the process will continue until it is determined that your system description is complete. On completion of the document review, plans will be finalized for the registration audit program.
While it is not required to perform a Preassessment audit, it is highly recommended for companies new to the registration process. This will provide you with an opportunity to understand how an audit works and to become acquainted with your auditor and the registrar. The benefits of a preassessment include:
· the steps necessary for full implementation.
· an appropriate schedule for your registration assessment.
A pre-assessment follows the format of the registration including document review, observation of activities, interviews with personnel and quality record review. At the closing meeting, results of the pre-assessment will be presented and an evaluation of the implementation status of the quality system will be made by the auditor. These results are for your use and are will not impact the registration assessment.
2. REGISTRATION ASSESSMENT
The purpose of the Registration Assessment is to assess your company’s Management System to the standard and to ensure that policies and procedures are effectively implemented. Further, we will seek to understand if your Management System is suitable and effective in supporting the company’s policy and objectives. Both Quality Management Systems and Environmental Management systems audits are conducted in a 2 Stage process. The purpose of Stage 1 audits is to determine your readiness for an onsite stage 2 audit. Stage 1 audits are usually conducted on site and will compromise roughly 25% of the total initial audit time. Stage 1 audits will compromise documentation reviews and a review of records of the major system elements such as Internal audits and Management Reviews to help ensure the success of the Stage 2 assessment and to prepare for the Stage 2 assessment.
The Stage 2 assessment is conducted after the successful completion of the Stage 1 assessment. This is also conducted on site and seeks to complete the assessment begun in Stage 1. This will be done by conducting interviews and evaluations throughout your facility and reviewing documentation and records to determine the implementation and effectiveness of your management system.
During the audit, wrap-up meetings may be held daily by the audit team with your management team to discuss audit progress and any nonconformities as they are discovered or concerns that have arisen during the course of the audit.
To achieve Registration, your company is responsible for the following:
Provide the auditors with sufficient objective evidence for them to conclude that your management system has been fully documented and effectively implemented in accordance with the standard.
Provide the auditors with records that provide evidence of the effectiveness of the system. Multiple types of records will be reviewed during the audit with some obvious dependence on the standard being assessed. Records of customer complaints, corrective actions, and management reviews are some of the most important records reviewed during the assessment.
Provide the audit team access to facilities, personnel, and documentation in order that they can verify that the Management System has been implemented and is being maintained.
Cooperate fully in the resolution of any non-conformances uncovered during either the Stage 1 or Stage 2 assessment.
Provide an escort for the duration of the audit that can also act a knowledgeable note taker during
Provide a room or work area for the audit teams
On completion of the audit, a meeting will be held with management to review any nonconformities discovered. After the close of the assessment, you will provide corrective actions or a plan for the implementation for any corrective actions taken. The effectiveness of corrective actions taken will be verified during the subsequent surveillance audit. Corrective actions may be issued when an auditor discovers a failure to meet an established expectation. These may be issued during any assessment activity.
3. SURVEILLANCE ASSESSMENTS
Management Systems are maintained through a process of surveillance audits at a minimum of once per year. This will conducted similarly to the Stage 2 assessment but of lesser time and more limited scope. Two surveillance audits are conducted approximately twelve months apart. Our auditors will typically review a portion of your system at each visit. At a minimum, management review, customer complaints, internal audits, and progress made towards continual improvement targets will be reviewed at each surveillance audit. Corrective Actions may be issued as discussed above.
Accreditation rules require that the entire system be assessed at a minimum of every three years to coincide with the validity of certificates. During this assessment, which typically lasts longer than a surveillance audit but less than the initial audit, the entire system will be reviewed with special emphasis placed on any areas that have shown nonconformances or weaknesses during the previous surveillance assessments. Pending successful completion of this assessment and the resolution of any issued action requests, a new certificate will be issued valid for three years.
IMPARTIALITY STATEMENT: Audit3 fully understands the potential for perceived conflict of interest and the importance of impartiality in the certification process. Therefore, the management continually works to evaluate these potential conflicts and implements secure controls to safeguard against them. The foundation of the certification process rests on the objectivity of activities throughout the entire process and we continually look to all areas for perceived conflicts of interest. This includes activities that may be visible to the customer as well as those that are transparent. Our goals are to operate well beyond the criteria set forth by the accrediting bodies and lead the industry in ethics and performance. As always, we welcome your questions and feedback.