Collaboration – the Future of Audits Post-COVID-19

During the COVID-19 Pandemic we saw a dramatic change in the way audits were delivered in order to maintain accreditation and certification and to keep supply chains operational, necessity required the significant adoption of remote auditing in many countries around the world. There is no doubt that speed with which the industry adapted was in large part due to the support and guidance provided by the IAF family, and the swift collaboration between its membership groups, Accreditation Bodies and Certification Bodies alike.   

This rapid change has driven numerous innovations in remote auditing techniques, methodologies, and tools as well as a great deal of experience gained by the certification and accreditation community leading to fantastic advances and most of all lessons learned. Much of this was shared via the excellent IAF FAQ resource.

But post lockdown, what will the future of assessments look like? How will these learnings and benefits be utilised to improve their effectiveness and enhance the benefits of ISO standards to end users? Wayne Terry, Chief Executive of ABCB, thinks collaboration will shape the future as the quality infrastructure develop a collaborative approach to Blended Audits.

ABCB recently began discussions with UKAS to discuss the move back to “normality” as lockdown restrictions lift and in particular how the approach to remote auditing and the guidance around it will change to retain the benefits gained whilst at the same time maintaining the value and the integrity of accredited certification.

There is no doubt this is a very important topic facing all Accreditation Bodies and Certification Bodies, so with this in mind a joint task force was initiated by the UKAS Management System Certification Technical Advisory Committee involving other CB representative bodies and key stakeholders  to develop an agreed approach to what will become the new normal.

Naturally, the approach will need to ensure that the integrity of the audit process is maintained in line with the current framework of IAF guidance and mandatory documents. Although previous restrictions on remote audits (such as the 30% limit contained in ISO 27006,) have currently been relaxed there will need to be a review to facilitate the adoption of a more risk-based approach that takes into account the way individual clients deploy and maintain their systems and industry specific factors.

Although the origins of the project will initially focus on the UK, once complete, it is intended to take the output for discussion at regional level through EA and then onto IAF thus bringing all the various elements of the IAF together through collaboration to shape the future of audits post COVID-19.

Given the extent of collaboration and speed of action by the industry during this crisis, I am very hopeful that we can have an agreed approach ready as each part of the globe exits this difficult situation.

ABCB Lead the Way on Remote Auditing

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, ABCB developed a remote auditing guide for its members that continues to serve them well, but what will be the norm post lockdown?

The UK conformity infrastructure is conscious that post lockdown the value and integrity of accreditation remains intact, so we need to start preparing for what the new ‘acceptable’ might look like, with focus on a suitable, acceptable and consistent approach as the world returns to work.

To help maintain the value of accreditation a joint ABCB/UKAS task force is being set up (to include other industry stakeholders), to develop a post lockdown ‘Guide to Remote Auditing’ bringing together the numerous innovations in remote auditing methodologies, tools as well the wealth of experience gained by the certification and accreditation community.

Work is expected to start mid-July – watch this space!

ABCB Celebrates World Accreditation Day 2020

June 9th 2020 marks World Accreditation Day (#WAD2020), a global initiative established by ILAC and IAF to promote the value of accreditation. This year’s theme focuses on how accreditation supports food safety, bolstering the confidence of consumers, suppliers, purchasers and specifiers in the quality and safety of food.

joint statement released by the IAF and ILAC Chairs introduces the importance of accreditation in food safety, noting how it ensures competent and impartial inspection, certification and testing services in every part of local, national and international food chains. In doing so, accreditation supports the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Good Health and Well-being (SDG 3).

IAF and ILAC have produced a brochure and poster to highlight worldwide examples of the role accreditation plays in food safety; further examples and research are available on the Public Sector Assurance and Business Benefits websites. A video is also available on the IAF/ILAC YouTube channel. We welcome you to add your logo to the materials, and to encourage your customers and stakeholders to do the same.  

Follow IAF and ILAC on Twitter for more information about accreditation in the food safety sector in the days leading up to WAD. While the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting social distancing policies may disrupt physical WAD events, we encourage you to celebrate with us online using the hashtag #WAD2020.

ABCB Calls on Accreditors to Act Now

Rules are rules and the accreditation world has more than most, and rightly so.

COVID-19 has already seen total shut down in some parts of the world so it’s vital that elsewhere the wheels of industry continue to turn. Accredited certification plays a big part in this and Accreditation Bodies must lead to ensure national and global trade continues.

ABCB calls on all the worlds Accreditation Bodies to act together via IAF on their corporate and social responsibilities to protect staff of CB’s, their client’s staff and everyone’s families and immediately implement a blanket suspension of physical audits.  The rules are there to allow it so act now!

IAF CertSearch – A Single Source of Truth

The International Accreditation Forum (IAF) has officially launched the world’s exclusive global database for accredited management system certifications, providing businesses and governments the ability to digitally validate an organization’s certification(s) to determine if a certificate is valid and if the Certification Body issuing the certificate is accredited to issue certifications to that standard.

IAF CertSearch, the largest global database for accredited certifications, currently includes around 400,000 valid certifications across more than 150 economies covering a range of sectors.

With over 4000 certification bodies and 68 IAF MLA signatory accreditation bodies globally, validation of certifications across supply chains can be difficult. The aggregation of certification data in one global database – IAFCertSearch – makes the validation process simple and efficient. 

IAF Director for Users and Industry, IAF UAC Chair, Sheronda Jeffries said, “Via IAF CertSearch businesses and governments can ensure all suppliers in their supply chains hold valid accredited certifications and can be instantly alerted if the certification is suspended, withdrawn or expired”

IAF Chairman Mr Xiao Jianhua said, “IAF CertSearch is a game changer for accredited certification, improving the awareness, integrity and value of accredited certification. Organizations will no longer be able to claim to have an accredited certification when they do not.”  Mr Jianhua added, “Launching the database is a great milestone! Trading with certified organizations is a way businesses and governments can demonstrate they have high quality, compliant, transparent global supply chains.” 

The database also helps organizations demonstrate that organizations in their supply chains meet environmental, social, and governance standards.

If you have any queries regarding the new IAF CertSearch database, please contact  info@iafcertsearch.org.

Leading industry players discuss IAF CertSearch https://youtu.be/oDEaHPawzVA

Latest BREXIT Position from UKAS

UKAS BREXIT Statement: 24 January 2020

The UK will have left the EU on 31 January 2020 after which the UK will be in a transition period until 31 December 2020. During the transition period nothing will change; there will be no impact on the awarding of UKAS accreditation certificates. The UK Government has confirmed that UKAS role as the national accreditation body will remain as it is now after we leave the EU. UKAS will retain its signatory status to the EA, IAF, and ILAC mutual recognition arrangements.

This means that the majority of UKAS’ accredited activities will continue to be unaffected . UKAS accreditation will continue to be recognised and accreditation certificates will continue to be valid following the UK’s departure from the European Union, regardless of whether or not the UK leaves with a deal in place.

At the end of the transition period where EU legislation specifically requires accreditation to be awarded by the national accreditation body of an EU Member State, UKAS accreditation may no longer be recognised depending on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.

During the transition period, UKAS will continue to work with Government to promote the use and acceptance of UKAS accreditation as part of trade negotiations. Regular updates will appear on the UKAS website.

FAQ’s

Following the UK’s departure from the European Union on Friday 31st January 2020, a list of the most frequently asked questions in relation to UKAS and accreditation is now available. UKAS will continue to update and augment these questions as the situation develops over the next few months.

https://www.ukas.com/download/brochures/Brexit-FAQs-14Feb20-2.pdf

Accredited and Non-Accredited Certification

Industry Position Statement:

Over 2.4 million organisations across the globe benefit from certification against management systems standards agreed and published by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO). The most widely adopted of these is ISO 9001, the management systems requirements standard for quality, the latest version of which was published in 2015.

Using management systems standards can help organisations streamline processes, improve efficiency, mitigate business risk, manage growth and drive continual improvement. And certification against these internationally recognised standards can reduce trade barriers, meeting and exceeding customer tender requirements and providing market differentiation. As such, certification is a vital business tool offering a degree of assurance to customers and suppliers.

Certification is offered by conformity assessment, or certification, bodies (CABs) which may or may not be accredited by national accreditation bodies (NABs).

Accreditation is the formal recognition by an independent NAB that a CAB is competent to perform conformity assessments. Such recognition is based on the CAB being able to demonstrate its competence, consistency and impartiality, according to the relevant international standards, in assessing organisations’ ability to meet the requirements of recognised ISO standards.

Although it is not mandatory for CABs to be accredited by an NAB, those that are accredited are able to demonstrate that they have been rigorously assessed by an independent, recognised authority against internationally recognised standards.

Non-accredited CABs are not subject to this independent scrutiny. This does not necessarily mean that a non-accredited CAB is not a competent, impartial and capable organisation. However, it cannot demonstrate that it has the competence, capability and impartiality required to conduct conformity assessments in a universally accepted way. 

A consequence of this is that many organisations which require their suppliers’ management systems to be certified will only recognise accredited certification.

The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS), the sole government recognised NAB in the UK, has issued approximately 3,200 accreditations to over 2,700 conformity assessment bodies. These accreditations apply to a wide range of products, services, processes, systems, bodies and persons from all industry sectors, adding an estimated £1bn annually to the UK economy [Source: University of Birkbeck].

The UK government provides guidance and information on accreditation and conformity assessment including that;

“The UK government expects UK based conformity assessment bodies to:

  • be compliant with European legislation
  • seek accreditation from the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS)”

Furthermore, it “recommends UK businesses, government, and local authorities that need third party conformity assessment services to use services from conformity assessment bodies accredited by a national accreditation body.”

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/conformity-assessment-and-accreditation-policy-the-uks-quality-infrastructure

In addition, the UK government guidance on accreditation and conformity assessment states that: “the only ‘authoritative statement’ of competence, that has public authority status – providing the last level of control in the conformity assessment chain is from the UK’s national accreditation body, UKAS.

Consistent with this guidance, those organisations listed below advise that organisations requiring conformity assessment should use the services only of CABs which are accredited by the national accreditation body.

ABCB Welcomes BAB as a Gold Member

ABCB are delighted to confirm that the British Assessment Bureau, one of the UK’s most progressive certification bodies, has announced its decision to become a Gold Member of the Association.

Kent-based British Assessment Bureau (BAB), which provides a range of ISO certification services, has been enjoying the benefits of being a member of the ABCB for several years. Following three important acquisitions during 2019 BAB took the decision to become a Gold Member, both in recognition of the huge value it has derived from its membership in the past, but also to support the exciting developments being led by ABCB’s new CEO, Wayne Terry.

BAB’s CEO, Mike Tims, commented “The decision to become a member of the Association of British Certification Bodies was a simple one for us. As a member of ABCB we gain advanced industry knowledge and early notification of new or revised standards, which helps shape our business strategy and plans. It also provides a platform to represent our views nationally and internationally.”

“By expanding our involvement with the ABCB we are able to develop a stronger relationship with key stakeholders, such as UKAS, but also international bodies such as the IAF. Finally, we get enormous benefit from regular membership meetings and discussion groups with fellow certification bodies as well as independent and impartial guidance and support from the management committee, if needed.”

Wayne Terry, ABCB’s CEO, welcomed the announcement and commented “I am delighted by this news from BAB and I am pleased that our activities at ABCB are being recognised in the industry. Since becoming CEO in January 2019 my team and I have been working closely with the likes of BAB and other leading certification bodies to expand our membership as we drive the organisation forward, becoming more proactive, nationally and internationally.”

The Importance of Having A Voice in The Industry

During 2019 Amtivo Group, which owns British Assessment Bureau, made three important, strategic, acquisitions which significantly increase its presence in the UK market. The acquisitions included Birmingham-based ACS Registrars, Leeds-based Avalon Certification and Equas Consultancy, which developed the game-changing ISO management solution, ‘Activ’.

Mike Tims noted “ACS Registrars and Avalon Certification have now become part of BAB, along with the Activ SaaS platform, all of which are really exciting developments for the business to be working on. We want to ensure that we continue to grow, to be innovative and to deliver the best possible service to our customers. Being a Gold Member of the ABCB is a key part of our strategy to achieve that and having access to Wayne, with his boundless energy and enthusiasm for our industry, makes it that much easier.”

ABCB Welcomes 2020

2020 is underway and ABCB’s diary is already filling up representing members interests at the most important meetings for Accredited CBs. Dates confirmed so far include:

UKAS Surgery (ABCB members only): February 27th

IAF Mid Term Meeting (Beijing): March 30th – April 2nd

EA General Assembly (Luxemburg): May 13th – 14th

UKAS Policy Advisory Council: July 8th

UKAS Policy Advisory Forum & Policy Advisory Council: September 20th

UKAS AGM: October 13th 

IAF Annual Meeting (Montreal): October 13th – November 5th

UKAS Policy Advisory Council: 24th November

EA General Assembly (Zagreb): 25th – 26th November

Also working with: Various BSI Committees, EFAC, BEIS – BSI PAS ‘Energy Smart Appliances’, Office for Product Safety – BSI PAS ‘Bringing Safe Product to Market’, Information Commissioner’s Office and many more.

Your voice is not being heard? – why not speak to ABCB to see how your views can be represented to the Quality Infrastructure industry – www.abcb.org.uk

ABCB OPENS ITS DOORS

In its 35 year history ABCB has traditionally focused on Management Systems, representing third party accredited CB’s that specialise in ISO/IEC 17021, such as ISO/IEC 9001. However, in today’s global marketplace, it is important that all aspects of accredited certification included the IAF Multilateral Recognition Agreement (MLA) is reflected in the activities of ABCB membership.