All posts by Laura Smith

UN Report Examines Credibility of Management Systems Certification

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While market surveillance is a…

While market surveillance is a well-known concept in a regulatory context, a similar approach has been shown to be effective when applied to the voluntary certification of quality management systems, according to a recent report by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.

In a series of articles, The Auditor Online will share highlights from the “Good Practices: Experience in the Market Surveillance of ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems” report, which presents the case for accreditation bodies or stakeholders completing market surveillance visits to certified organizations to ensure the quality of their products or services.

According to the report, user feedback on the performance of ISO 9001-certified suppliers and the accredited certification process reveals ongoing debate around the effectiveness and credibility of accredited certification.

The debate centers on whether organizations are deriving tangible benefits through ISO 9001 certification, if the certification process is being performed effectively, and whether ISO 9001-certified suppliers can be relied upon to provide “consistent, conforming products and services” to customers.

Systematic feedback was gathered between 2009 and 2015 from purchases regarding their perceptions of ISO 9001-certified suppliers, and from ISO 9001-certified organizations about the implementation and certification process. Feedback was gathered through a survey and a market surveillance activity which involved one-day visits to certified organizations. These visits aimed to determine confidence levels related to various aspects of the organization’s quality management system and the overall level of confidence in the certification process.

To reflect their confidence level in organizations being examined, assessors assigned the following grades:

  • Grade One: “Little or no confidence.” Little or no evidence to support the implementation of this topic.
  • Grade Two: “Some evidence presented, but not at all convincing.” Some evidence was presented, but in the professional judgement of the assessor, there would probably be evidence to support a nonconformity if a detailed audit trail were to be followed in a full system audit.
  • Grade Three: “OK—No reason to doubt that this is being addressed correctly.” The “default” grade, where there is no evidence to suggest reasons for concern, based on the assessor’s experience and professional judgement.
  • Grade Four: “Clear evidence that this is being done, and meets the intent of the relevant standard.” Sufficient objective evidence provided a high degree of confidence that the organization meets requirements.
  • Grade Five: “We can be proud to use this organization as a benchmark for this topic.” To be reserved for truly excellent performance.

A key finding was that there were notable differences in the performance and level of confidence in organizations certified by different certification bodies and under accreditation from different accreditation bodies. Other findings included:

  • More than 95 percent of certified organizations surveyed considered the effective implementation and accredited certification of quality management systems to have been a “good” or “very good” investment.
  • Overall perception of the ISO 9001 standard and accredited certification was good, although the role of accreditation wasn’t well understood by purchases or certified organizations.
  • The purchasers surveyed were mainly satisfied with the performance of their ISO 9001-certified suppliers. In general, ISO 9001-certified suppliers performed “better” or “much better” than non-certified suppliers. However, poor responsiveness of certified organizations to customer complaints was one area of concern.

Overall, the performance of the certified organizations that were visited was good, which demonstrates the effectiveness of the accredited certification process. However, between six and eight percent of organizations returned unsatisfactory results, and one percent raised serious doubts about the validity of their certification—which calls into question the effectiveness of the certification process.

According to the report, market surveillance activities can be used in place of traditional accreditation methodologies such as office assessments and witnessed audits to investigate complaints or concerns.

Market surveillance can also uncover trends, strengths, and weaknesses in the implementation of quality management systems in particular regions or sectors—all of which is useful information for certification bodies to focus their attention on during surveillance and renewal audits.

To give the data context, the report describes independent third-party certification as a common method sought by organizations to demonstrate that they have met all the requirements of ISO 9001. The certification consists of a certificate of conformity and ongoing surveillance to ensure that the system is maintained in accordance with the standard.

To demonstrate competence to administer management system certification, a certification body may become accredited by an accreditation body. This accreditation is based on the requirements defined in ISO/IEC 17021-1 and is supplemented by other discipline-specific or sector-specific requirements in some cases.

Continue to read The Auditor Online in the coming weeks for more findings from the “Good Practices: Experience in the Market Surveillance of ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems” report.

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Baldrige Foundation to Expand Awards Program

  The Baldrige Foundation is…

 

The Baldrige Foundation is expanding its leadership awards program with the establishment of the E. David Spong Lifetime Achievement Award.

The first recipient of the award is its namesake: Dr. E. David Spong.

“This new award recognizes an individual who has performed truly extraordinary service and created a lasting legacy which will inspire future generations of leaders” says Al Farber, Foundation president and CEO.

Dr. Spong has been a Baldrige practitioner and advocate throughout his career, and is a two-time recipient of the Baldrige National Quality Award. He led the Boeing Airlift and Tanker Programs to the 1998 award in manufacturing, and in 2003, he led Boeing’s Aerospace Support division to the Baldrige Award in the service sector.

“I am thrilled to lend my name to this award, but the Baldrige Enterprise is the real champion,” says Dr. Spong. “Baldrige recipients serve as role model organizations for everyone else to emulate. Through Baldrige, ‘best practice’ becomes documented, data driven, evidence-based examples of performance excellence. These examples reach every sector of the economy—manufacturing, small business, service, health care, education, the nonprofit sector and government, and beginning last year, cybersecurity. Baldrige is a recipe for first-class performance.”

“David’s career spans over five decades and encompasses many, varied leadership roles,” continues Faber. “At every step David has been a champion of the Baldrige Framework and the Baldrige Enterprise. The Baldrige Foundation is honored to present this award to him, and future leaders who embody his lifetime commitment to quality.”

 

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Auditor Profile: Inspired to Improve Food Safety

With more than 35 years…

With more than 35 years experience in the food industry in roles such as kitchenhand, caterer, and auditor, Marjorie Harvey is somewhat of a food safety expert. The Auditor speaks to Harvey to learn how she has channeled her passion for the food industry into a successful food safety auditing and consulting career.

Harvey began her career in the food industry peeling potatoes in a local pub and then as a trade cook. She later went on to own a catering business, manage food services in aged care, and teach hospitality.

After witnessing unsanitary food handling practices and seeing reports of food poisoning outbreaks in the media, Harvey was inspired to improve food safety through designing food safety programs. Her interest in auditing soon followed.

“Food sites had no food handling policies, monitoring records, or food safety systems,” Harvey said. “I enrolled in university so I could learn more about the Food Act and food safety standards to become an accredited trainer and auditor.”

Harvey’s university studies included learning about HACCP, ISO standards, food technology, and auditing. Here, she gained the necessary skills to become the first female third-party food safety auditor for the Department of Human Services in Victoria, Australia. Harvey then went on to establish Australian Food Hygiene Services—an accredited company offering consulting, training, and auditing for the hospitality industry.

Working predominantly in the health care sector, Harvey’s role as director involves auditing, training, writing food safety programs, and consulting.

Throughout her career, Harvey has designed and implemented more than 800 food safety programs for hospitals, aged care facilities, child care sites, and Meals on Wheels. She continues to offer her services to restaurants, hotels, cafés, community services, government bodies, and prisons.

Harvey reflects on highlights of her career as including assisting the industry in all aspects of food safety management and compliance.

“It has been a privilege to work in areas that are high risk and to have the opportunity to assist clients with gaining compliance, and offering an opportunity for continual improvement if they request.”

However the job has its challenges—particularly in regards to travel and the demands of report writing. Getting a start in the industry also isn’t easy.

“From the start it was very challenging as no one had experienced an audit,” Harvey said. “But as time goes by it has become less challenging as most understand the requirements expected from an audit.

“It is also challenging to keep up with new equipment, changed food processes, and current trends.”

Harvey believes a lack of mentoring opportunities and incentives for seasoned auditors to assist new auditors are key issues in the profession, and suggests the following solution:

“Attending relevant industry conferences and auditor forums to ensure they keep abreast with the current requirements.”

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