Service Industry - Scope of the QMS & Scope of Certification

MickPetzold

Returning Poster
#1
We are a service organization whose Scope of Work is "performance of inspections, tests and maintenance of high-voltage (Generation, Distribution and Transmission) electrical power equipment and systems to assess and ensure their suitability for initial and continued service." Our services are performed at our customers' sites - i.e., utility substations, wind farms, nuclear generation plants and industries with high voltage equipment requiring maintenance. Our QMS Scope is intended to be applicable to all services, processes and systems managed at our main office.

We have been ISO 9001 certified for four years now (no findings) and just went through an ISO 9001:2015 Upgrade Audit. Unfortunately, our registrar was being witness audited by ANAB during the audit. ANAB is seemingly pushing back on our registrar, questioning their decision to certify us since they cannot audit service performance. (Customers won't allow them on-site due to safety/security considerations.) Our registrar has suggested limiting our Scope of QMS to only shop work at our main office, which represents a very small percentage of our work. (Occasionally a customer may drop off small equipment at our shop like distribution voltage regulators for maintenance.)

My questions: If this is the case, can we even get ISO 9001 certified? We can't have auditors on our work sites due to safety and security clearance reasons. Also, by excluding field service, wouldn't we be in noncompliance to paragraph 4.3 since field service is essentially our business? Is there a solution to being ISO 9001 certified if everything else can be audited with the exception of actual field work being performed?
 

AndyN

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#2
re: Service Industry - Scope of the QMS & Scope of Certification

We are a service organization whose Scope of Work is "performance of inspections, tests and maintenance of high-voltage (Generation, Distribution and Transmission) electrical power equipment and systems to assess and ensure their suitability for initial and continued service." Our services are performed at our customers' sites - i.e., utility substations, wind farms, nuclear generation plants and industries with high voltage equipment requiring maintenance. Our QMS Scope is intended to be applicable to all services, processes and systems managed at our main office.

We have been ISO 9001 certified for four years now (no findings) and just went through an ISO 9001:2015 Upgrade Audit. Unfortunately, our registrar was being witness audited by ANAB during the audit. ANAB is pushing back on our registrar, seemingly questioning their decision to certify us since they cannot audit service performance. (Customers won't allow them on-site due to safety/security considerations.)

My questions: If this is the case, can we even get ISO 9001 certified? We can't have auditors on our work sites due to safety and security clearance reasons. Our registrar has suggested limiting our Scope of QMS to only shop work at our main office, which represents a very small percentage of our work. (Occasionally a customer may drop off small equipment at our shop like distribution voltage regulators for maintenance.) Also, by excluding field service, wouldn't we be in noncompliance to paragraph 4.3 since field service is essentially our business?
In such situations, I've seen the words "The management of inspections...." etc which means your registrar simply looks at how you manage the service processes. It doesn't detract from the validity of the scope in my experience.
 

Sidney Vianna

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#4
re: Service Industry - Scope of the QMS & Scope of Certification

If this is the case, can we even get ISO 9001 certified?
Here is a novel idea: why is your organization certified to ISO 9001, to start with? Very likely, because you have (at least one) contractual requirement to do so.

In that case, such customer is interested in the actual quality of the service, including, OBVIOUSLY, the field work. That being so, the CB auditors HAVE TO PHYSICALLY AUDIT the field processes, where the rubber meets the road. Such customer (the one that requires your organization to be certified) should assist you in getting the CB auditors access to the site from a safety and security standpoint.

I would not settle for a scope of certification which does not provide full assurance and confidence to your organizational capability to deliver the service, including the critical piece of the field work.

You could even limit the scope of certification to the site(s) of the customers which requires the certification.

At the end of the day, certificates should provide confidence to stakeholders. What is the point of wordsmithing the scope of certification if the end result is not the enhanced confidence in the supplier?
 
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AndyN

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#5
re: Service Industry - Scope of the QMS & Scope of Certification

Some clients (government) won't ALLOW a CB auditor on site. What then? Change the scope to be the next best thing...
 

Sidney Vianna

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#6
re: Service Industry - Scope of the QMS & Scope of Certification

In my experience, what prevents CB auditors from gaining access to some installations is the lack of the proper security clearance. Some CB auditors have some level of clearance.

In the IAQG world, I believe that is part of AS9104, it is clearly mentioned that if classified projects can not be audited due to lack of clearance by auditors, the scope of certification must exclude such programs.

The validity of the scope of certification is something that many lead auditors don't pay attention to, and mis-believe that it is the CB office's responsibility only to define the scope of certification. Like in the case of this thread, the mismatch was only uncovered because of a witnessed audit and the AB auditor doing his/her job.

The key thing to remember, in my opinion, is that the scope of certification is very important and the sample of the audited system must be truthful and representative of the certified system.

When we know for a fact that many people who engage with CB's don't understand issues such as certificate validity, accreditation, limitations, exclusions, scope of certification, etc., education is needed.
 

somashekar

Super Moderator
Staff member
Super Moderator
#7
We are a service organization whose Scope of Work is "performance of inspections, tests and maintenance of high-voltage (Generation, Distribution and Transmission) electrical power equipment and systems to assess and ensure their suitability for initial and continued service." Our services are performed at our customers' sites - i.e., utility substations, wind farms, nuclear generation plants and industries with high voltage equipment requiring maintenance. Our QMS Scope is intended to be applicable to all services, processes and systems managed at our main office.

We have been ISO 9001 certified for four years now (no findings) and just went through an ISO 9001:2015 Upgrade Audit. Unfortunately, our registrar was being witness audited by ANAB during the audit. ANAB is seemingly pushing back on our registrar, questioning their decision to certify us since they cannot audit service performance. (Customers won't allow them on-site due to safety/security considerations.) Our registrar has suggested limiting our Scope of QMS to only shop work at our main office, which represents a very small percentage of our work. (Occasionally a customer may drop off small equipment at our shop like distribution voltage regulators for maintenance.)

My questions: If this is the case, can we even get ISO 9001 certified? We can't have auditors on our work sites due to safety and security clearance reasons. Also, by excluding field service, wouldn't we be in noncompliance to paragraph 4.3 since field service is essentially our business? Is there a solution to being ISO 9001 certified if everything else can be audited with the exception of actual field work being performed?
As a part of your contract agreement with your clients, add the requirement that your scope of work at their location when needed to be audited by yourself, or by any third party on your behalf must be facilitated by the client for continued business, subject to prior information. This will also help you in your internal audits at the location of your service provision....
ANAB is on track and your CB is perhaps now defensive. Think of rising to the occasion. Good luck.
 

AndyN

A problem shared...
Staff member
Super Moderator
#8
This might not be the best place to ask this but here is my shot in the dark!

I was just reaching out to see if anyone could offer some help with a task that was sent my way. I am needing some help to help identify a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) (UL) certified lab to endorse our electrical and mechanical drawings. We need an independent 3rd party to review and certify the design as compliant.
If there is any type of advice or guidance I would greatly appreciate it

Thanks!
Welcome! I've requested to move your question to a more applicable thread/forum.
 

MickPetzold

Returning Poster
#9
Thanks for all the great responses!

We are a small, progressive company noted for our safety record, technical knowledge and skill, and excellent quality of our services. None of our customers require ISO 9001, although it certainly has gotten us in the door on several occasions.

I was hired by my company six years ago to implement a quality system. Being quite familiar with ISO 9001 implementations - having implemented and maintained all versions in manufacturing environments - I thought it would be a great opportunity to implement it in our service business. (The ISO 9001 provides an excellent quality system foundation that demands us to identify, document and maintain consistent processes using scope, objectives, monitoring and metrics, and analysis of data to manage, control and improve our key business processes and all our projects. Third party audits are a great way to ensure our team “walk the talk”.)

Our CB auditor has been excellent and we’ve established a great relationship with them. In the past, they have audited our service by sampling the inspection, test and maintenance of small high voltage equipment (e.g., distribution regulators) that have been replaced by our customer and are delivered to our shop. Field work, which represents most of our business, was not audited by 3rd party auditors mainly due to safety reasons. (We have internal auditors that are trained and qualified to perform field audits.) Unfortunately, the ISO 9001:2015 has a greater emphasis on “Scope of the QMS”, hence ANAB’s concern.

Unless convinced otherwise, I believe AndyN's suggestion will work best for us. I don’t believe having our performance of service excluded will impact us in any way. Our company is also NETA accredited which provides assurance to our customers that our tests and inspections are performed objectively, according to NETA specifications, using calibrated instruments traceable to the NIST and that we are a well-established, full-service electrical testing and maintenance business.

Here’s what I’m thinking for the Scope of our QMS:

“The management of inspection, test and maintenance activities on high-voltage electrical power equipment and systems to assess and ensure their suitability for initial and continued service, all of which is performed in our main office.”
 
#10
Mike,

As well as this scope for certification:

“The management of inspection, test and maintenance activities on high-voltage electrical power equipment and systems to assess and ensure their suitability for initial and continued service, all of which is performed in our main office.”

I recommend a broader scope for your management system:

“The design, performance and management of inspection, test and maintenance services on high-voltage electrical power equipment and systems to assess and ensure their suitability for initial and continued service.”

That is you want your management system to help your organization to assure the quality of your services while continually improving your services.

Best wishes,

John
 
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