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Informational Re-engineering of the IAF Accreditation and the Management System Certification Processes

Sidney Vianna

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#1
Reason to be hopeful? Or not? Can the same minds re-engineer the archaic accreditation and certification processes, presently deployed?

Improving Certification
Output matters. That was the overriding message at the March meetings of the International Accreditation Forum's technical and executive committees. Finding ways to improve accreditation body (AB) and certification body (CB) accountability was a major topic of discussion at the event, and measuring AB and CB effectiveness through an examination of their registered clients' product output is a way of verifying this effectiveness, reported several meeting participants.

A paper produced by the IAF technical committee's (TC) Reengineering Accreditation Task Group calls for better assessment of the competency of AB assessors, the improved verification of AB impartiality, improved criteria for audit preparation and reports, and more complete AB surveillance audits of certification bodies. The paper will be discussed at the IAF's next meeting in Sydney, Australia, planned for October.

Several TC members acknowledged that shoddy products shipped by certified companies have the potential to erode the value of accredited certification. The problem lies with unaccredited certification companies and inexperienced auditors who are driven more by money than by the quest for quality improvement.

"The ultimate accreditation is from the client's customers," says Nigel Croft, convener of ISO/TC 176, the technical committee responsible for developing the ISO 9000 series of standards and guidance documents. "Those clients are the ones paying the bills for the good and the bad, and they are the ones we need to pay attention to."

The discussion is part of an ongoing effort by the IAF to increase the value of accredited certification to management system standards. Long-term action items planned by the organization include:
Developing methods to measure the quality of certified organizations' product output
Collecting and processing information from second-party audits, regulator audits and media accounts of certified organizations
Pushing for the evolution of the relationship between ABs and CBs into stricter cooperation and partnership
Substantially tightening the requirements for obtaining and maintaining accreditation, especially with regard to the verification of the implementation of improved rules
Strongly regulating price competition

"A substantial redesign of the accreditation and certification processes… cannot be based only on defining better rules, but implies a major cultural and political change," says Lorenzo Thione, convener of the Reengineering Accreditation committee. "This cannot be achieved without the consciousness and cooperation of all the interested parties."

The larger IAF meeting, held March 24-30 in San Francisco, included daylong breakout sessions for several other of the TC's work groups, including the ISO 20000 work group, which continued its work on revising and reviewing the service-sector standard; the ISO 14065 work group, which is developing an international standard for greenhouse gas measurement and reduction; and the ISO 9000 advisory group, which discussed the ongoing revisions of ISO 9001 and ISO 9004.
The TC agreed to form several new work groups, as requested by industry representatives. The new work groups will explore accreditation and standardization in the product-certification sector, and a global accreditation program for ISO 13485 (which relates to medical devices), among others.

The weeklong conference--hosted by the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB)--also featured ANAB's first Industry Day. The event featured presentations from industry sector representatives who discussed ways in which accreditation and certification can be improved to benefit them. Joe Bransky, General Motors' representative to the International Automotive Oversight Bureau, gave a particularly pointed address, urging the IAF to require more accountability from accreditation bodies, and automotive suppliers to be more transparent with their supply chain challenges. He also noted that certification bodies haven't sufficiently developed auditor competencies, and reported the need for more effective witness auditing.

"There should be no secrets," Bransky says. "If we are serious about improvement, we need to put all the cards on the table and say where we really are."

Also at Industry Day, the technical committee agreed to form an end-user advisory group, which will provide information to the TC about how IAF decisions affect certification among end-users. A representative from the advisory group will also be a member of the TC.
 

Sidney Vianna

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#2
Re: Re-engineering of the Accreditation and Certification processes

Mr. Nigel Croft delivered this presentation almost 3 years ago on the future of certification. It talks about the stratification of organizations, AB's, CB's, consultants and auditors along the lines of adding value. Makes for interesting reading IMO.

Mr. Croft is unrelentless in his drive to bring credibility back to the accredited certification process.
 
#3
Re: Re-engineering of the Accreditation and Certification processes

Good find Sidney. I am happy to read this, it's way overdue for some improvement, however they don't seem to recognize the legacy that the previous version of ISO 9000 left us, which has its effects in registrations, auditor behaviour etc. Often, due to unrealistic timescales being set for supplier to get registered, organizations have been paniced into registration and gone with the 'easy option'. Having said that, I wish the team well on their endeavor.

I'm a little sceptical, however, regarding Mr. Bransky's comments. His organization, along with the other OEM's have played 'beat up the registrar' through their purchasing 'power' (which they apply unthinkingly to all suppliers) and have driven down the prices charged. So, for the IAF/IATF to lay the blame at registrars' auditors for doing things for money is cynical at best and very hypocritical.

Once again, he's advocating more auditing by AB's of CB's as a way of 'inspecting in quality'. He already knows that audits don't fix a broken process, but I guess he's trying to feed the AIAG/IATF coffers............

What ever happened to actually fixing the process?
 

Stijloor

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Super Moderator
#4
Re: Re-engineering of the Accreditation and Certification processes

Good find Sidney. I am happy to read this, it's way overdue for some improvement, however they don't seem to recognize the legacy that the previous version of ISO 9000 left us, which has its effects in registrations, auditor behaviour etc. Often, due to unrealistic timescales being set for supplier to get registered, organizations have been paniced into registration and gone with the 'easy option'. Having said that, I wish the team well on their endeavor.

I'm a little sceptical, however, regarding Mr. Bransky's comments. His organization, along with the other OEM's have played 'beat up the registrar' through their purchasing 'power' (which they apply unthinkingly to all suppliers) and have driven down the prices charged. So, for the IAF/IATF to lay the blame at registrars' auditors for doing things for money is cynical at best and very hypocritical.

Once again, he's advocating more auditing by AB's of CB's as a way of 'inspecting in quality'. He already knows that audits don't fix a broken process, but I guess he's trying to feed the AIAG/IATF coffers............

What ever happened to actually fixing the process?

I respectfully disagree with Mr. AndyN. Suggesting that Mr. Joe Bransky is "trying to feed the AIAG/IATF coffers...." does not contribute to a meaningful dialogue on how to improve the Accreditation/Registration/Certification process.
 

Helmut Jilling

Auditor / Consultant
#5
Re: Re-engineering of the Accreditation and Certification processes

Reason to be hopeful? Or not? Can the same minds re-engineer the archaic accreditation and certification processes, presently deployed?
That is indeed the question. I wish Mr. Bransky could change some of the destructive procurement processes at GM, which often undermine the very quality improvements we auditors are trying to drive.
 

Sidney Vianna

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#6
Re: Re-engineering of the Accreditation and Certification processes

I don't understand the statement
The problem lies with unaccredited certification companies and inexperienced auditors who are driven more by money than by the quest for quality improvement.
in the context of this article. While unaccredited certification presents risks to the credibility of all involved, I believe that unaccredited certification is a minuscule percentage of the certification market.

My long term contention is that the Accreditation Bodies and Certification Bodies have to find ways to demonstrate that they bring value to the end users. And that requires performance comparisons. And that requires data that most certified organizations are not capable nor willing to collect, much less share. A real and serious re-engineering of the accredited certification process would affect not only the AB's and CB's, but also the certified organizations. And that, will be a tough sell.
 

Helmut Jilling

Auditor / Consultant
#8
Re: Re-engineering of the Accreditation and Certification processes

And yet, another very interesting paper.:read:

Some interesting points. Particularly, learning from automotive, etc. The TS auditor scheme, though it has many problems, generally results in a better grade of auditors. Maybe there is something to that?
 

Sidney Vianna

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#9
Re: Re-engineering of the Accreditation and Certification processes

Some interesting points. Particularly, learning from automotive, etc.
The biggest lesson that the AB's can learn from the Automotive Sector is the fact that they were blatantly bypassed for the TS certification program. The Automotive OEMs got fed up with the accreditation process dysfunctions experienced during the QS-9000 experiment. I hope the AB's can make the structural and cultural changes to inspire more confidence in their processes. In my personal opinion, we need a revolutionary change, rather than an evolutionary one. I doubt we will see a revolution.
 
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Stijloor

Staff member
Super Moderator
#10
Re: Re-engineering of the Accreditation and Certification processes

The biggest lesson that the AB's can learn from the Automotive Sector is the fact that they were blatantly bypassed for the TS certification program. The Automotive OEMs got fed up with the accreditation process dysfunctions experienced during the QS-9000 experiment. I hope the AB's can make the structural and cultural changes to inspire more confidence in their processes. In my personal opinion, we need a revolutionary change, rather than an evolutionary one. I doubt we will see a revolution.
Hi Sidney,

Thank you for your great observations and valuable comments.

Yes, the IATF decided to take the "bull by the horns" themselves.

But I am curious; in your opinion, what would be the Top Three changes that the Accreditation Bodies should implement to improve the credibility of the
(1) the AB's themselves and (2) the Certification Bodies?

What do other Covers suggest?
 
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