The Certification Process – Management Systems

In all cases the certification process starts with a full audit of the client’s management system against the requirements of the standard in question. In some cases the client may wish to have a pre-assessment audit carried out to establish its state of readiness, but this is not part of the formal certification process.

The duration of the audit depends on the complexity of the client’s activities, the number of staff and the physical size of the operation.

When the client has successfully undergone the audit and resolved any non compliances found we issue the certificate stating that the client’s management system complies with the standard.

Thereafter we carry out surveillance audits, partly to look at particular aspects of the system in more depth, and partly to ensure that the system overall is being implemented in accordance with the client’s own requirements.

Clients are provided with detailed information on the proper use of MSC’s certification mark.

The steps in the certification process

1. Enquiry
When we receive the enquiry we send the client a questionnaire to complete, giving us details of their operation and processes. This will enable us to formulate a proposal for the certification cycle.

2. Review of requirements
We then review the information in the questionnaire and determine how best to meet their requirements.

3. Quotation / Contract
We then send them a quotation / contract (including our Terms & Conditions) covering the three years of the certification cycle.

4. Auditor selected
We then select a suitably competent auditor / audit team to carry out the audit.

5. Certification Assessment Stage 1
To ensure that the client achieves the optimum result from the certification process, the certification assessment is carried out in two stages . The first stage is essentially a preliminary check of the quality management system and its documentation to establish if there are any gaps in the system that might result in delay in attaining certification. This stage involves a visit to the client, and a detailed examination of the documentation, which may be carried out off-site. At the end of the Stage 1 the client is notified of any aspects of the system that may not be in compliance with the requirements.
It is important to understand that this is not a consultancy audit, and the auditor is not permitted to provide any advice in relation to how any deficiencies could be resolved.

6. Certification assessment Stage 2
On a date agreed with the client, Stage 2 of the assessment of the system is carried out . This is a detailed assessment of the individual processes (both main processes and support processes). When the assessment is completed the client is informed of the outcome of the audit. The auditor is only authorized to make a recommendation to Management Systems Certification Ltd. The recommendation may be one of the following:
– Unreserved recommendation to grant certification
– Recommendation to grant certification when certain specific issues have been resolved. This may require a follow-up visit to verify the corrective action.
– Recommendation to refuse certification. This requires a full re-assessment. It is unusual for an organisation that has completed Stage 1 to have this result at the end of Stage 2.

7. Audit report
On completion of the audit, the auditor completes a report and submits it to the MSC office. The client also receives a copy of the report

8. Review of the audit process 
The certification decision is made following an independent review of the audit report.

9. Certification and registration
Once certified the client is issued with a certificate confirming compliance to the relevant standard(s).

10. Surveillance 
To ensure that clients maintain their management systems a program of surveillance audits is put in place. This involves either one or two visits per year, depending on the size and complexity of the operation.

11. Re-assessment
At the end of the 3 year cycle a new cycle commences with a re-certification audit.

Complaints & Appeals Procedure

Any complaint or appeal should be directed to our Managing Director in writing and all complaints and appeals are treated with urgency and confidentiality. A copy of our complaints and appeals procedure is issued to our clients and is also available: A1504 Appeals and Complaints.

Suspending, withdrawing or reducing scope

Our processes for granting, refusing, maintaining, renewing, suspending, restoring or withdrawing certification or expanding or reducing the scope of certification is issued to our clients and is also available on A1603 Suspending, withdrawing or reducing scope