What to Expect From an ISO Certification Audit
The ISO or International Organization for Standardization encourages and promotes standardization in the products and services industry. ISO certification indicates you have a management system, service and documentation procedures, a manufacturing process, or quality assurance guidelines that are adhered to, to achieve standardization and quality assurance.
This certifications add credibility to your service or product by demonstrating that it meets the expectations of your customers. ISO does not enforce any regulations; it merely certifies that your organization meets certain standards or does not meet those standards. ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management Standard for example, guides those companies and organizations that want to fulfill their environmental responsibilities, and certifies those that do so.
What Happens During an ISO Audit?
Audit yourself internally using the guidelines against which your ISO certification body (CB) will use to audit you. ISO standard(s) require you to audit yourself to see if you meet their standards before your selected CB conducts an audit. Your CB is not an enforcement agency; however, CBs do expect you to work towards the common goal of standardization because you believe in it.
The top management is required to conduct a review of your organization’s ISO implementation and status before ISO certification body (CB) comes for an official audit. Management review agenda is required to be documented and include some items such as review of organizations key performance indicators (KPIs), corrective actions, results of internal audits, resource requirements, opportunities for improvement and any changes that may effect the implementation process.
Your selected CB will want to know if you have made any corrections to issues found during the internal audit. You are required to correct those issues and have set up measures to prevent re-occurrence of that specific issue or related issues. The certification body will be pleased if they find that you identified a problem and set up corrective measures that are working and reliable.
Have a Plan to Address Quality Issues
Your ISO certification body (CB) will want to know how you plan to handle any issues they identify. It is possible for the CB to audit your organization or company and find something you missed. It is best to have a system that you will use to address such issues (i.e. corrective action program). Having such system or program in place will indicate you are ready to ensure continued improvement of your systems.
Just keep in mind that a quality management system or environmental management system is not something that is cast in stone. It is supposed to evolve to meet new challenges that might hamper your quality assurance standards. The ISO certification audit should not be the end of your internal audits. You should continuously inspect your systems periodically. The best companies are those that focus on continually improving their systems.