Archive for the ‘Stage 2 audit’ Category

One aspect of getting certified that sites need to manage is who they select to do the certification audit.  In my opinion, the first thing to make sure of is that it is a UKAS ( or equivalent ) body so that you know you are getting a qualified service.  However, there are still organisations out there that operate outside those limits and it can be tempting to go with them if money is tight.  Having said that, the old adage that you only get what you pay for happens to apply whoever you select.

You might be forgiven for thinking that of all the business assessments that you have to pay for then surely the quality system will be one where everyone delivers from a level playing field Рnot so.  In fact on several discussions I have initiated on LinkedIn the concept of high cost Рlow cost auditors seems to be accepted as part and parcel of this process.

Can it make that much difference?

Well yes it can actually.  There are clearly the market leaders who, not surprisingly, charge a premium price.  However, even looking beyond them the differences can be significant.

Putting them all into the mix,  I had a single site with less than 10 staff and I did my usual of getting three quotes so the client could get a feel of the overall costs.  This was both for the Stage 1 and 2 certification audits then the annual maintenance and surveillance audits for the three year approval period.  Now, the costs ranged from £2750 to £3681, a difference of £931 or near as makes no difference a third.

So, don’t follow the crowd and go with what the rest have got.¬† Get several quotes¬†when the time is right¬†as you would for other business¬†services you purchase and make sure you are on the right side of the line.¬† If you need any more help on this then I’m more than happy to help. Visit the web site on www.thebpasgroup.co.uk.

Understandably a lot of focus is put on getting the quality system ready for that final audit but the need to do likewise around the site shouldn’t be overlooked. Whilst some may view these as very basic, those undertaking this audit for the first time might benefit from the prompt.

Housekeeping is an obvious one for starters. Go round the shop floor and have a tidy up – assuming it isn’t already engrained in the company culture that is. First impressions are important as they say. Get old machinery and parts out of the way and redundant stock and work in progress sorted. The same applies for office space as well so don’t forget to check that it all looks reasonable and make sure nobody has ferreted away old procedures if you have had to issue hard copies.

Walk round and convince yourself that, by what ever means you have adopted, orders are clearly identified. Rectify any areas where you are left scratching your head before the auditor does likewise. Also check that documentation relevant to these orders is in place and legible and hasn’t ‘wandered’.

The system itself should be sorted but no harm in getting someone to do a final sense check. Go through the master manual of documents to make sure nothing is missing or you’ve not generated some spurious revisions by some erroneous cross references. Don’t forget the intranet if you base your system on that as well. Check all the links work before you end up enduring that embarrassed silence when the auditor can’t make any progress through your system. Might be worth checking the backup regime whilst you’re at it to ensure the save has been validated i.e. would it work if called upon.

Ensure the Quality Policy is displayed around the place and that staff have a basic understanding of it. A good place to display it is on the log-on screen of¬†your IT system if that is possible. Ensuring you have done all your internal audit programme and at least one Management Review meeting should be a given. However, don’t be afraid to do another MR meeting as the system gets up and running during that pre-audit period if it helps control the workload.

Finally, don’t forget your colleagues as you are going to need their help on the day. Make sure you have communicated the programme for the day to them so they know when and where the auditor will visit. Explain that you as the Management Representative (or your delegated colleague) will be with the auditor at all times but only as a guide and observer since the auditor will want to talk to them. Obviously tell them to keep to the area under discussion and politely respond to the questions and clearly ‘avoid going off on one’ if you know what I mean!

That way everybody is ready for the visit and the site looks its best – but then it always does, doesn’t it?