Can we be ISO 9001 certified without a physical office?

Bifften

Involved In Discussions
#1
Hi everyone, hopefully I'm not duplicating a thread here but if so I apologise. I got thrown a scenario last week.


Covid-19 has accelerated a move by our global business to move to a virtual/digital model supported by a small number of key processing centres. We have ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 in some of our offices - although actually not yet for all of the processing centres being retained.

I don't know exactly how this will look yet but in short, most offices on our ISO 9001 (and 27001) certificate, including HQ, are not going to have their lease renewed. The people, the processes and the systems are still there but it's all done virtually. There might be no physical office address to list on the certificate and there would be no site for an auditor to visit on re-certification / surveillance.

So if, 'the business' decides that we want to keep them within scope (and as they virtual support / manage the retained sites we might have to?!) then can we do this without an actual office to audit?
 
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John Broomfield

Staff member
Super Moderator
#2
Auditors do not audit offices. They audit systems and their processes but they need your help in planning the audit for accessing the sources of evidence sufficient to fulfill the objective of the audit.

For your business and the certificates you’ll need a mailing address. You may have rewrite your scope statement so it accurately defines the scope of your system and it’s certifications.

Just make sure you can show that physical premises are unnecessary to the success of your enterprise and it’s organization as an effective system.

During the planning ask your auditor where they’d prefer to work so they have access to sample the evidence of your system and it’s processes.
 

Bifften

Involved In Discussions
#3
Thanks John, that's useful. Perhaps historical in our company but we have always only had partial coverage of certification due to expansion and mergers that we could never keep up with (or there was no demand for certification). So our certificate has always listed individual sites (6 in our case) and these have each been audited on a sample cycle with HQ every year. Whether something was in or out of scope ultimately seemed to come down to which office was running that process so without offices it all becomes a lot more blurred. I'm also not sure how our certification body will view this, especially with no clear HQ - but obviously something I'll have to discuss with them!
 

John Broomfield

Staff member
Super Moderator
#4
Instead of listing places in your scope statement list services, products and their critical processes.

Legal and regulatory requirements will mean that you’ll also have to clear about applicable countries.

One global certificate rather like FedEx sounds about right.
 

Randy

Super Moderator
#5
Short answer....Yes and No
There has to be a physical (real world) address to place on the certificate, but everything else can be virtual to a point....

Here's what IAF MD5 says about virtual
"1.4. Virtual Site
Virtual location where a client organization performs work or provides a service using an online environment allowing persons irrespective of physical locations to execute processes.
Note 1: A virtual site cannot be considered where the processes must be executed in a physical environment, e.g., warehousing, manufacturing, physical testing laboratories, installation or repairs to physical products.
Note 2: A virtual site (e.g. company intranet) is considered a single site for the calculation of audit time."


I've got a client (doing them next week in fact) whose management system is virtual, but because of what they do (education & training) I have to visit (28 locations-multi-site, 4-5 annually). We do the annual HQ and synthesis portion as a virtual process.

Virtual has to be case by case so there is no specific or definitive answer to your question
 

John Broomfield

Staff member
Super Moderator
#6
And note the the scope statement for certification of the FedEx Management System:

"Design, Management and Operation of a Worldwide Express Transportation Service"
 
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