ISO Certification Process

The Certification process shall consist of the following key stages

  • 1. Application,
  • 2. Application/Contract Review,
  • 3. Initial Certification Audit (stage-1 audit),
  • 4. Assessment (stage-2 audit) and
  • 5. Continual assessment (surveillance audit).

1. Application :

Enquiries may be received in several forms, by telephone, letter, e-mail or facsimile. Sometimes, AQC, on its own may also approach prospective clients.

AM shall request the applicant organization to provide the following information in application to enable AQC to establish the following :

  • a) the desired scope of the certification;
  • b) the general features of the applicant organization, including its name and the address(es) of its physical location(s), significant aspects of its process and operations, and any relevant legal obligations;
  • c) general information, relevant for the field of certification applied for, concerning the applicant organization, such as its activities, human and technical resources, functions and relationship in a larger corporation, if any;
  • d) information concerning all outsourced processes used by the organization that will affect conformity to requirements;
  • e) the standards or other requirements for which the applicant organization is seeking certification;
  • f) information concerning the use of consultancy relating to the management system

2. Application Review :

The details received shall be reviewed by AM against NACE/EA Codes and the accredited codes of IAF. AQC capability for processing the certification. The review shall be conducted in accordance with procedure.If the same is found to be within AQC's scope of accreditation the quotation will be prepared.AM shall prepare a quotation based on requirements of Mandays, multi site activities and other considerations. And after obtaining approval from CEO shall submit the same to the client.

AM /TC in consultation with CEO shall proceed for finalizing the audit team. The audit team shall be appointed and composed of auditors (and technical experts, as necessary)

The individual(s) who will be conducting the certification decision shall be appointed ensuring appropriate competence with appointment letter

3. Initial Certification Audit (Stage I & Stage II) :

A. Stage 1 audit

AQC shall proceed with Initial Certification Audit (Stage-1) audit activity on completion of earlier activities.. A pre-assessment is a trial audit which is conducted before the Certification audit at client's option to provide a macro level assessment of the status of implementation and identification of any major deficiencies in the compliance of the documented quality system with the requirements of the certification standards, for corrective actions to be taken in advance of the certification audit. It provides valuable inputs to give confidence to the clients and saves time for taking necessary corrective action, later. However pre-assessment is done in special cases and it is also ensured that the auditor signs the conflict of interest before every visit.

The audit shall be conducted :

  • a) to audit the client's management system documentation;
  • b) to evaluate the client's location and site-specific conditions and to undertake discussions with the client's personnel to determine the preparedness for the stage 2 audit;
  • c) to review the client's status and understanding regarding requirements of the standard, in particular with respect to the identification of key performance or significant aspects, processes, objectives and operation of the management system;
  • d) to collect necessary information regarding the scope of the management system, processes and location(s) of the client, and related statutory and regulatory aspects and compliance (e.g. quality, environmental, legal aspects of the client's operation, associated risks, etc.);
  • e) to review the allocation of resources for stage 2 audit and agree with the client on the details of the stage 2 audit;
  • f) to provide a focus for planning the stage 2 audit by gaining a sufficient understanding of the client's management system and site operations in the context of possible significant aspects;
  • g) to evaluate if the internal audits and management review are being planned and performed, and that the level of implementation of the management system substantiates that the client is ready for the stage 2 audit

A detailed report shall be prepared by the Team Leader and a copy shall be given to the client. The report shall be evaluated by AM and plan for the subsequent audits of the organization is discussed with the client.

B. Stage 2 audit

The purpose of the Assessment (STAGE-2) is to ensure that the requirements of relevant ISO standards (9001) as addressed by the documented quality system are being complied with. The Auditors will be looking for objective evidence of compliance with the standards, and Non compliances are brought to the attention of the guide and noted on a report form. At the end of assessment, these are discussed and the company's management representative is asked to sign the report acknowledging that he understands and accepts the findings.

The Assessment is concluded with a “Closing Meeting” at which the Team Leader presents the findings and makes a recommendations, either for certification to the applicable standards of ISO otherwise with a requirement for a verification audit in case of major non-conformances having been identified. 2.5.3 In case where non-compliances are of a minor nature, certification is recommended subject to a corrective action plan that addresses the non compliances and observations raised in the report being submitted together with objective evidences for all non compliances within 21 days. When this corrective action plan and the objective evidences are received at the AQC office, the audit reports shall be verified for conformance against the requirements of the certification standard. The client's file is reviewed to ensure an independent verification of compliance against certification checklist and grant of certification.

The stage 2 audit shall take place at the site(s) of the client. It shall include at least the following :

  • a) information and evidence about conformity to all requirements of the applicable management system standard or other normative document;
  • b) performance monitoring, measuring, reporting and reviewing against key performance objectives and targets (consistent with the expectations in the applicable management system standard or other normative document);c) the client's management system and performance as regards legal compliance; d) operational control of the client's processes;
  • e) internal auditing and management review;
  • f) management responsibility for the client's policies;
  • g) links between the normative requirements, policy, performance objectives and targets (consistent with the expectations in the applicable management system standard or other normative document), any applicable legal requirements, responsibilities, competence of personnel, operations, procedures, performance data and internal audit findings and conclusions.

Each certified organization shall be required to undergo a surveillance audit at maximum intervals of 12 months, during the term of validity of its certification. The continual conformance of the organization management system with the certification standard shall be verified by auditing selected elements of the management system at each visit besides verification of the effectiveness of the corrective actions against the non-conformities raised during the previous audit.

The Auditors are required to complete the Reports in a precise and accurate manner. The justification for non inclusion of any element as per the ISO standards e.g. Design Control etc from the company's quality system should be carefully verified and recorded in the Report.

Information for granting initial certification

The information provided by the audit team to AQC for the certification decision shall be as per AQC procedure shall include, as a minimum,

  • a) the audit reports,
  • b) comments on the nonconformities and, where applicable, the correction and corrective actions taken by the client,
  • c) confirmation of the information provided to AQC used in the application review , and
  • d) a recommendation whether or not to grant certification, together with any conditions or observations.

AQC shall make the certification decision on the basis of an evaluation of the audit findings and conclusions and any other relevant information (e.g. public information, comments on the audit report from the client).

The audit team/AM shall analyze all information and audit evidence gathered during the stage 1 and stage 2 audits to review the audit findings and agree on the audit conclusions.

QC shall issue the certificate as per procedure

5. Surveillance audits

Surveillance audits are on-site audits, but are not necessarily full system audits. Surveillance audits planned together with the other surveillance activities so that the certification body can maintain confidence that the certified management system continues to fulfill requirements between recertification audits.The surveillance audits conducted at least once a year and the date of the first surveillance audit following initial certification shall not be more than 12 months from the last day of the certification decision.

  • The objective of surveillance audit is to:
  • Ensure that the client's management system which was basis of grant of certificate has been maintained on continuous basis.
  • Verify and ensure that any changes to management system which might have taken place since last audit meet the requirement of the standard/ specification and implemented effectively
  • Ensure on-site audits assessing the certified client's management system's fulfillment of specified requirements with respect to the standard to which the certification is granted.
  • Ensure that the management system continues to be appropriate to the product/ process/ service offered by client, with the capability of managing and improving performance.
  • Assess continual improvement in client's management systems