Preparing for an ISO certification audit can be chaotic, especially if you're not prepared or are new to the process entirely. That's why our team at CertificationCollective have reached out to the local auditor community to collectively bring you tips to help you prepare for an ISO management system certification audit.
In this article we cover 7 areas you may want to consider when preparing for an; ISO 9001 (Quality), ISO 14001 (Environmental), ISO 45001 / AS/NZS 4801 (Safety) certification audit.
There are many reasons companies become certified, customer or government requirements, standardising processes in the company, unlocking larger contracts and / or driving continual improvement are just some of the reasons we hear most commonly.
The most important reason your organisation needs to know why you are undergoing certification, is to communicate it with everyone internally. Once your organisation defines the reason, it will be much easier to obtain buy-in from other people in the company - making your job easier*.
The involvement of leadership throughout the process, is an effective way of communicating your organisation's commitment to ISO certification.
Depending on the size of your organisation and the availability of resources, involving other people / departments will be vital and is recommended, given they will be apart of the audit too!
Ensure you have mapped out your existing company processes, then define objectives to measure their effectiveness. You would be wise to remember, "less is more", as auditors ultimately asses you based on the processes you have defined and the objectives set internally.
Again, "less is more". Establishing early what documents are REQUIRED (to run your business efficiently and meet the requirements of the certification standard/s), will reduce any unnecessary burden often associated with maintaining documentation.
There are ISO management system processes you need to adopt & establish in addition to your existing processes. Two of the main processes you may be unfamiliar with are, 'Management Review'and 'Internal Audits'.
In the case of Management Review, you may utilise your current director or leadership meetings to incorporate and discuss matters (big & small) related to your desired certification standards and the corresponding systems (e.g. safety management processes).
Regarding Internal Audits, these must be conducted and documented before receiving certification.
The importance and requirement of these 2 processes are associated with the implementation of the management system/s. Management Review meetings provide evidence to auditors that the leadership team are committed and involved in the process. Whereas Internal Audits provide evidence of internal assessment of its effectiveness and implementation.
If you haven't already, you will need to find a certification body (CB) to conduct an assessment. This is the company that will issue you a certificate that states your company is certified.
In Australia there are more than 30 accredited CBs, chances are not all of them are suitable for your organisation. To help you choose, we've put together an article covering, Top Tips For Picking A Certification Body.
No one company is perfect. ISO Management Systems are structured around continual improvement, giving your organisation a chance to improve efficiency and promote this effort to your customers.
These are 7 general areas to consider when preparing for ISO management system certification. There may be other areas depending on your organisation and its commercial activities.