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The certification process for management systems usually extends over several steps and in most cases ends with an audit report documenting the results of the audit and the certificate. Our audits serve the overall objective of demonstrating effectiveness and conformity to international standards or specifications. But they can do more: DQS audits are a particularly effective tool for the further development of your management system. You gain a more intensive knowledge and a deeper understanding of your organization - and can improve it in a targeted manner.
The DQS certification process starts with getting to know each other and exchanging initial information for a meaningful offer. During this process, we would like to learn about your individual company situation, the size of your company, special processes and the maturity level of your management system. These are all important factors in determining the duration of the audit and the qualifications of our auditors. They are recorded in the so-called basic data of your company.
However, in order to be able to prepare a detailed quote tailored to the individual needs of your organization and including all relevant services, we also ask about certain expectations of your company: What are the requirements for the strategic use of management systems? What goals are associated with certification?
The planning for this should be completed 120 days before the certification audit. To ensure this planning reliability, DQS uses automated process steps to have all important information available at the click of a mouse before, during, and after the audit. However, what matters just as much in the planning phase is our dialog with you.
In addition to staffing the audit team, this involves identifying and involving the parts of the organization to be audited and the contact persons at an early stage. Especially in the case of combined audits or complex sampling and matrix procedures, preparatory planning meetings and workshops have proven to be almost indispensable. The DQS customer support planning teams are supported by established experts both in standards and industry, who are often experienced auditors themselves.
In many cases, it has proven useful to conduct a pre-audit. This optional service helps your organization to prepare specifically for the actual certification, based on the strengths identified or the potential for improvement.
The actual certification process then begins with the system analysis (audit stage 1). The system analysis is a necessary step for initial certifications as well as, in part, for the takeover of existing certificates. The focus is on evaluating the system documentation and reviewing the results of management assessments and internal audits. Our auditors determine whether your management system is sufficiently developed and ready for certification. Your DQS auditor explains the results and arranges the further steps to be taken in preparation for the on-site system audit.
In the system audit (audit stage 2), the auditor or the team of auditors usually assesses the effectiveness of your management system at the production or service site (on site). In exceptional cases, an audit can also be conducted, replaced or supplemented remotely (remote audit, not on site).
While the system analysis focuses on the structure and documentation ("What is described?"), the system audit is concerned with what is actually implemented. Using the standards and specifications for management systems, the effectiveness of all functional areas and management system processes is evaluated.
All findings from observations, reviews and interviews are incorporated into the audit result, which is presented and explained to the client in the final meeting. In the event of nonconformities, action plans are agreed upon.
As an independent certification body, DQS then evaluates the audit results again as part of the system evaluation. In the course of a so-called technical review, we determine whether the audit was carried out properly, whether all required documents are complete, and whether it has been shown that the standard requirements for the management system are adequately fulfilled. Only then is the decision made on whether to issue the certificate. The client then receives the audited audit report.
If your DQS auditor recommends the issuance of a certificate after the system audit, maybe subject to conditions, and the technical review confirms this evaluation, the respective certificate is issued.
Such a certificate is the visible outward expression of a neutral and independent assessment. It shows that your organization operates one or more management systems appropriately and effectively, and has thus created structures to meet specific customer expectations or legal requirements.
For many DQS customers, however, the certificate is only one facet of certification. Their focus is on the indications for improvement or risks they receive during the assessment. DQS auditors take a forward-looking view of the effectiveness of management systems, including change processes in organizations, and actively engage in dialog with management. In this way, they help companies achieve targets and strategic goals and secure the trust of business partners in the long term.
In the case of accredited standards, a certificate is usually valid for three years. However, in order to remain valid over its term, it must be verified annually. In the first and second year after the certificate has been issued, DQS auditors therefore conduct short surveillance audits in which they consider, for example, the effectiveness of essential system components or of corrective and preventive measures.
At the end of the 3-year cycle, recertification is performed. In terms of the scope of assessment, it corresponds to the system audit during initial certification. However, in the second, third and further cycles, auditors also take into account the higher maturity and performance of the management system. And so the annual review supports the continuous development of companies: it is an incentive for management, drives continuous improvement and prevents blind spots.