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Objective: 

To establish a simplified process and serve as a guideline in processing the client certification(initial, surveillance, recertification, and continuing certification)

 

Scope : 

This guideline and work instruction applies to all the certification processes (initial, surveillance, recertification, and continuing certification) carried out by WQA Phils Inc.

Initial Process Steps

1. Receive and respond to inquiries from the client.

 

2. Interview the client and get initial information if there will be a possibility of engagement.

Decline application in the following cases:

a. The client management system was not yet well implemented during the initial interview; for example, there was no internal audit or management review.

b. The management system being applied by the client is not yet available with the existing WQA services.

c. The applicant has existing regulatory violations or cases.

d. The client has existing unsettled major nonconformities with other CBs.

e. Any case that may lead to WQA's refusal to accept the applicant client.

3. Suppose WQA believes engagement is possible based on initial interviews. In that case, WQA staff will send an application form (WQA 44) to further assess the qualifications of the client applicant based on the following criteria:

a. Location/Address/Contact Person/ email address/Contact person

b. Scope of the Certification and any Exclusion

c. Product / Service/Processes/Activities

d. Number of adequate employees/personnel

e. Desired Management Scheme/s- integrated or single

f. Multi-site or not

g. Number of shifts, if applicable

h. If done with the Internal Audit and Management Review or not

I. Other information that is relevant to the proposal 

4. Based on the information in the WQA 44 application form, WQA may still refuse to accept the application if there are conditions stated in item 2.0. If the information in the application form is received, WQA will send the WQA 01 Application pack to the client, which could serve as a contract between WQA and the new client. The WQA 01 Application Pack includes detailed information about the client, costing, WQA Phils Inc. requirements/condition/agreement of the Certification, e.g., introduction, stages of the Certification, public communication, obligations of the client, the requirement for the client to accept observers from WQA Phils Inc, Confidentiality, Impartiality, Ownership of the certificate/reports, Cancellation, Termination, Safety of WQA auditors/technical expert/observers, Indemnity, Insurance, Complaints/Dispute & Appeal, and Policy on Use of logo/mark. This Application Pack only applies to new and old clients if there is a need to revise the contract due to a reduction or addition of the scope. 

5. If both parties approve the contract, the planning for the initial (Stage 1 and Stage 2 Audit) shall commence. The Audit plan (WQA 45) shall be prepared considering the following:

Availability of Lead Auditors and Auditors who are skilled and experienced in the management schemes needed by the clients. Lead Auditors shall be selected based on their skills, competency, and experience based on the nature of the client's business or product. A Technical Expert / Observer / Auditor-in-Training may be included in the Audit Plan, if needed, and will not be included in the computation of audit person-days.

Agreed date for Stage 1 and Stage 2 audits

The number of audit days based on MD 05, which may take into consideration the complexity of the process, product, or service; if single or multiple management systems; the number of adequate manpower/personnel; if shifting operation or not; if multi-site or not; the category of risk and other factors that may be considered in computing audit man-days.

6. The typical content of the audit plan  WQA 45 includes the name of the client, client number, client site/s/location, planned audit dates, audit team, objective of the audit, audit criteria, reference document; scope of the audit and scope of the certification; confidentiality statement; terms and condition of the audit; audit time; areas to be audited; name, date and signature of the person prepared the audit plan and the confirmation of the client.

7. Stage 1 Audit

a. The objectives of stage 1 is to review the client’s documented information; evaluate the client’s site-specific conditions and to undertake discussions with the client’s personnel to determine the preparedness for stage 2;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 client;obtain necessary information regarding the scope of the certification including:the client’s site(s);processes and equipment used; levels of controls established (particularly in case of multi-site clients)applicable statutory and regulatory requirements;review the allocation of resources for stage 2 and agree the details of stage 2 with the client; provide a focus for planning stage 2 by gaining a sufficient understanding of the client’s and site operations in the context of the standard or other normative document; and evaluate if the internal audits and management reviews are being planned and performed, and that the level of implementation of the substantiates that the client is ready for stage 2.

b. Documented conclusions concerning the fulfillment of the Stage 1 objectives and the readiness for Stage 2 are communicated to the client during the Closing meeting, including identification of any areas of concern that could be classified as nonconformity during Stage 2.


 

c. After the audit, the client is given a Corrective Action Report(WQA 38). Proper correction and corrective action usually take three days to one week. The client is given seven days upon receipt of WQA 38 for OFI and a maximum of 30 days for Observation and NC to address and submit corresponding evidence. The Lead Auditor/Auditor shall verify the effectiveness of the client’s response to NC.

In determining the interval between stage 1 and stage 2, the client's needs to resolve areas of concern identified during stage 1 shall be considered. 

WQA may also need to revise its arrangements for stage 2 if any significant changes impact the management system. It may also consider repeating all or part of stage 1. The client shall be informed that the results of stage 1 may lead to the postponement or cancellation of stage 2, as applicable

8. Audit activities for initial (stage 1 and stage 2), surveillance, recertification, and continuing certification:

a. Conducting the opening meeting. A formal opening meeting is held with the client and those responsible for the functions or processes to be audited. The purpose of the opening meeting, usually conducted by the audit team leader, is to explain how the audit activities will be undertaken briefly. The degree of detail shall be consistent with the familiarity of the client with the audit process and shall consider the following:  

Introduction of the participants, including an outline of their roles; 

confirmation of the scope of certification and confirmation of the audit plan (including type and scope of audit, objectives, and criteria), any changes, and other relevant arrangements with the client, such as the date and time for the closing meeting, interim meetings between the audit team and the client’s management; 

confirmation of formal communication channels between the audit team and the client and that the resources and facilities needed by the audit team are available; 

confirmation of matters relating to confidentiality; work safety, emergency, and security procedures for the audit team; and the availability, roles, and identities of any guides and observers; the method of reporting, including any grading of audit findings; 

information about the conditions under which the audit may be prematurely terminated; 

confirmation that the audit team leader and audit team representing the certification body are responsible for the audit and shall be in control of executing the audit plan, including audit activities and audit trails; 

confirmation of the status of findings of the previous review or audit, if applicable; methods and procedures to be used to conduct the audit based on sampling; and confirmation of the language to use during the audit; 

confirmation that, during the audit, the client will be kept informed of audit progress, any concerns, and the opportunity for the client to ask questions.

b. Perform document review while conducting the audit. The audit team leader shall review with the client any need for changes to the scope that becomes apparent as on-site auditing activities progress and report this to the certification body.

c. Communicating during the Audit. 

The audit team shall assess audit progress and exchange information during the audit. 

The audit team leader shall reassign work as needed between the audit team members and communicate the progress of the audit and any concerns to the client.

d. Assigning roles and responsibilities of guides and observers

e. Collecting and verifying information. 

During the audit, information relevant to the audit objectives, scope, and criteria (including information relating to interfaces between functions, activities, and processes) shall be obtained by appropriate sampling and verified to become audit evidence.

Methods to obtain information shall include but not be limited to interviews, observation of processes and activities, and review of documentation and records.

f. Generating audit findings. 

Summarizing conformity and detailing nonconformity shall be identified, classified, and recorded to enable an informed certification decision or maintenance of the certification.

Opportunities for improvement may be identified and recorded unless prohibited by the requirements of a management system certification scheme.

Audit findings, which are nonconformities, shall not be recorded as opportunities for improvement.

A finding of nonconformity shall be recorded against a specific requirement. It shall contain a clear statement of the nonconformity, identifying the objective evidence on which it is based.

Nonconformities shall be discussed with the client to ensure that the evidence is accurate and that the nonconformities are understood. The auditor, however, shall refrain from suggesting the cause of nonconformities or their solution.

The audit team leader shall attempt to resolve diverging opinions between the audit team and the client concerning audit evidence or findings, and unresolved points shall be recorded.

g. Preparing audit conclusions

Under the responsibility of the audit team leader and before the closing meeting, the audit team shall:

a) review the audit findings and any other appropriate information obtained during the audit against the audit objectives and audit criteria and classify the non-conformities;

b) agree upon the audit conclusions, taking into account the uncertainty inherent in the audit process;

c) agree on any necessary follow-up actions;

d) confirm the appropriateness of the audit program or identify any modification required for future audits

h. Conducting the closing meeting

A formal closing meeting, where attendance shall be recorded, shall be held with the client’s management and, where appropriate, those responsible for the functions or processes audited.

The closing meeting, usually conducted by the audit team leader, is to present the audit conclusions, including the recommendation regarding certification. Any non-conformities shall be explained in a manner that is understood, and the timeframe for responding shall be agreed upon.

The closing meeting shall also include the following elements where the degree of detail shall be consistent with the familiarity of the client with the audit process:

The client shall be allowed to ask questions. Any diverging opinions regarding the audit findings or conclusions between the audit team and the client shall be discussed and resolved where possible.

a) advising the client that the audit evidence obtained was based on a sample of the information, thereby introducing an element of uncertainty;

b) the method and timeframe of reporting, including any grading of audit findings;

c) the certification body’s process for handling nonconformities, including any consequences relating to the status of the client’s certification;

d) the  timeframe  for  the  client  to  present  a  plan  for  correction  and  corrective  action  for  any nonconformities identified during the audit;

e) the certification body’s post-audit activities;

f)    information about the complaint and appeal handling processes.

Any diverging opinions that are not resolved shall be recorded and referred to WQA.

9. Stage 2 Audit

a. The objectives of stage 2 are to evaluate the effectiveness of the implementation of the client’s management system, including information and evidence about conformity to all requirements of the applicable standard or other normative documents; performance monitoring, measuring, reporting, and reviewing against key performance objectives and targets; the client’s ability and its performance regarding the meeting of applicable statutory, regulatory and contractual requirements; operational control of the client’s processes; internal auditing and management review; management responsibility for the client’s policies.

b.The audit steps are the same as in item no. 8

10. The audit team shall analyze all information and audit evidence gathered during stages 1 and 2 to review the audit findings and agree on the audit conclusions.

11. The Auditor/Lead Auditor concerned shall validate/verify the effectiveness of the correction and corrective action submitted by the client. If there is a need to confirm the corrective action, this can be done without additional cost to the client.

12. WQA shall provide the client with a written report for each audit. The audit team may identify opportunities for improvement but shall not recommend specific solutions. WQA shall maintain ownership of the audit report. 

a. The audit team leader shall ensure that the audit report is prepared and shall be responsible for its content. 

b. The audit report shall provide an accurate, concise and transparent record of the audit to enable an informed certification decision to be made and shall include or refer to the following: identification of WQA; the name and address of the client and the client’s representative; type of audit, criteria and audit objectives; audit scope, particularly identification of the organizational or functional units or processes audited and the time of any deviation from the audit plan and their reasons; any significant issues impacting on the audit program; identification of the audit team leader, audit team members and any accompanying persons; dates and places where the audit activities  were conducted; audit findings , reference to evidence and conclusions, consistent with the requirements of the type of audit; significant changes, if any, that affect the management system of the client since the last audit took place; any unresolved issues, if identified; whether the audit is combined, joint or integrated; disclaimer statement indicating that auditing is based on a sampling process of the available information; recommendation from the audit team; the audited client is effectively controlling the use of the certification documents and marks, if applicable; verification   of   effectiveness   of   taken   corrective   actions   regarding   previously   identified and nonconformities, if appropriate.

c. The report shall also contain a statement on the conformity and effectiveness of the management system, together with a summary of the evidence relating to the capability of the management system to meet applicable requirements and expected outcomes, the internal audit and management review process, a conclusion on the appropriateness of the certification scope, and confirmation that the audit objectives have been fulfilled.

d. WQA requires the client to analyze the cause and describe the specific correction and corrective actions taken or planned to be taken for any NC to eliminate detected nonconformities within a defined time.

e. The certification body shall review the client's corrections, identified causes, and corrective actions to determine whether they are acceptable. 

f. WQA shall verify the effectiveness of any correction and corrective actions taken for NC and record the evidence obtained to support the resolution of non-conformities.

g. The client shall be informed of the result of the review and verification. If an additional full audit, an additional limited audit, or documented evidence (to be confirmed during future audits) will be needed to verify effective correction and corrective actions.

 

13. Surveillance Audit Objectives:

a. The objective of the surveillance audit is to maintain confidence that the client’s certified management system continues to fulfill requirements between recertification audits.

b. Surveillance for the relevant management system standard that needs to be checked includes internal audits and management review; a review of actions taken on nonconformities identified during the previous audit; complaints handling;  effectiveness of the management system about achieving the certified client’s objectives and the intended results of the respective management system (s); progress of planned activities aimed at continual improvement; continuing operational control;  review of any changes;  and use of marks and/or any other reference to certification. 

c. WQA shall maintain certification based on the demonstration that the client continues to satisfy the requirements of the management system standard.

d. It may maintain a client’s certification based on a positive conclusion by the audit team leader without further independent review and decision, provided that for any significant nonconformity or other situation that may lead to suspension or withdrawal of certification, the certification body has a system that requires the audit team leader to report to the certification body the need to initiate a review by competent personnel, different from those who carried out the audit, to determine whether certification can be maintained;

e. Surveillance activities shall include on-site auditing of the certified client’s management system’s fulfillment of specified requirements concerning the standard to which the certification is granted.

f. Other surveillance activities may include inquiries from WQA to the certified client on aspects of certification; reviewing any certified client’s statements concerning its operations  (e.g., promotional material, website); requests to the certified client to provide documented information (on paper or electronic media); and other means of monitoring the certified client’s performance including monitoring the reports of auditors, to confirm that the certification activity is operating effectively.

g.The audit process steps are the same as item no . 8

 

14. Recertification Audit Objectives:

a. The objectives of the recertification audit are to:

I. Confirm the continued conformity and effectiveness of the management system as a whole and its continued relevance and applicability for the scope of certification; 

ii. evaluate the continued fulfillment of all of the requirements of the relevant management system standard or other normative document; 

iii. confirm the effectiveness of the management system in its entirety in the light of internal and external changes and its continued relevance and applicability to the scope of certification;

iv. confirm the demonstrated commitment to maintain the effectiveness and improvement of the management system to enhance overall performance;

v. Check the management system's effectiveness in achieving the certified client’s objectives and the respective management system (s) 's intended results.

b. The recertification audit shall be planned and conducted promptly to enable timely renewal before the certificate expiration date.

c. The recertification activity shall include reviewing previous surveillance audit reports and considering the management system's performance over the most recent certification cycle.

d. Recertification audit activities may need stage 1 in situations where significant changes have occurred to the management system, the organization, or the context in which the system is operating.

e. For any major nonconformity, WQA sets a time limit for correction and corrective actions of a minimum of one month to a maximum of six months, depending on the finding. For example, the construction of a financial matter is required. These actions shall be implemented and verified before the expiration of certification.

f. When recertification activities are completed before the expiration date of the existing certification, the expiration date of the new certification can be based on that date. The issue date on a new certificate shall be on or after the recertification decision.

g. Suppose WQA has not completed the recertification audit and cannot verify the implementation of corrections and corrective actions for any major nonconformity before the expiry date of the certification. In that case, recertification shall not be recommended, and the validity of the certification shall not be extended. The client shall be informed, and the consequences shall be explained.

h. Following the certification's expiration, WQA can restore accreditation within six months, provided the outstanding recertification activities are completed. Otherwise, at least a stage 2 shall be conducted. The certificate's effective date shall be on or after the recertification decision, and the expiry date shall be based on the prior certification cycle.

i. The audit process step is the same as item no. 8.

15. Special Audit

a. A special audit may be conducted on the following cases

I. Request to expand scope. In response to an application for increasing the scope of a certification already granted, undertake a review of the application and determine any audit activities necessary to decide whether or not the extension may be granted. This may be conducted in conjunction with a surveillance audit

b. Short-notice audits. It may be necessary for WQA to conduct audits of certified clients at short notice or unannounced to investigate complaints in response to changes or as follow-up on suspended clients. In such cases:

I. WQA shall describe and make known to the certified clients the conditions under which such audits will be conducted.

ii. WQA shall exercise additional care in assigning the audit team because the client has no opportunity to object to audit team members.

16. Transfer

a. The objective of the transfer audit is to ensure that the integrity of the client’s management system certified by the previous certification body is maintained and meets requirements.

b. WQA shall verify first the applicant's condition with its previous CB.

c. The transfer will only be accepted if there is no pending NC with the previous CB, and complete audit reports from the previous CB  will be submitted.

d. The process for auditing is the same as in item no 8.

Process Flow for Initial Certification
Process Flow for Surveillance / Recertification
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