What is the Pre-Assessment Review?
Some organisations like to develop and/or run their ISO Systems themselves. This usually means that buy-in from the rest of the organisation is strong and the resultant systems are very fit-for-purpose so far as the organisation’s operational needs are concerned. However, it does not necessarily mean that they are confident of their ability of the ISO systems to meet the ISO Standard’s requirements. In these circumstances, organisations might call in someone to carry out a Pre-Assessment Review – ie a look at their ISO Systems and procedures prior to the official assessment to ensure they have covered everything correctly and will not be embarrassed with a failure at the assessment time.
How does a Pre-Assessment Review work?
A Pre-Assessment Review is, in effect, a duplicate Assessment as though from the Certifier. The only difference is that if something is found that is less than perfect, the review is able to correct it there and then and/or note that further work needs to be carried out to improve things. Note that even having such a note in the system should mean that the Certifier is happier as even without it having been actually dealt with, the fact that the problem has been identified, and an appropriate course of action noted to improve the situation, is sufficient to reassure the Certifier that all is under control.
As such the Reviewer checks the records, documentation, audits, minutes, registers and feedback from various sources to ensure that all is as it should be. The reviewer might carry out minor audits on various points and/or interview staff. The aim is to be more comprehensive than the assessor might be so that it is more likely that they will cover everything that the assessor will cover and more (rather than miss something).
Who should carry out a Pre-Assessment Review?
Anyone who has clear knowledge and understanding of the requirements of the assessment process combined with knowledge of the ISO Standard in question. Clearly this could involve someone from within the organisation, but the likelihood is that if such a person existed, then they would be able to ensure that a Pre-Assessment review would not be needed in the first place. As such it is usually an external consultant who can be called in to carry this out. Please contact us for further details.
Why is the Pre-Assessment Review important?
There are two answers to this – cost (because if the assessment brings up too many problems you end up failing and having to redo it along with a whole load of rushed changes both of which are expensive) and pride/loss of face (because those that have prepared the work are embarrassed by the failure of their work to attain the prize, while those that instructed the work are embarrassed that they did not provide the oversight and/or funds to ensure that the work was carried out successfully). Unsurprisingly many organisations would rather have someone help them ensure that this will not be a problem – especially when the cost of doing so is potentially a fraction of the cost of failing. For more information or to access a Pre-Assessment Review, please contact us.
What results from a Pre-Assessment Review?
Just like the formal assessment, the result is a summarised report detailing the strengths and weaknesses of the ISO Systems in place. Ideally all non-conformances will be addressed already as part of the process (not the case when being assessed officially of course), but where this cannot be done in the time, then a list of what needs to be done to remedy the issues found together with details of who should do what, in what order and to what effect. Finally, a list of recommendations for improvement are added. These are not issues, so far as the ISO System assessment is concerned, so much as observations on how the systems can be made better still even if they are sufficient already.
When should a Pre-Assessment Review be carried out?
The key here is that ideally it should be done no later than a month before the real assessment is due to take place. The aim here is to ensure that if any adverse issues are found that there is time to remedy them before the formal assessment commences. Better still that there is time to amend them and have them operating with records being generated proving that they work by the time the formal assessment takes place.
However, so long as any issues identified are clearly shown as being recognised as imperfect and that appropriate action plans are in place, then this goes a long way to ensuring that the assessment will succeed. Please note that if the problems are in key points in the business and have clearly been missed for a long time, it is vital that they are up and running by the time the assessor visits as otherwise this could be difficult to explain.
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