Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question about certifying your organization? Browse through our topics - we've provided many answers here to the questions we're asked most often. If we haven't answered your question here, please submit a question to us directly.

Topics
Certification Process
Costs
Definitions
Multisite Certification
Roles and Responsibilities

Certification Process

Q: There are some clauses of the ISO 9001 Standard that do not specifically pertain to our business, even when a clause does not apply do we need to address it in our quality system?
A: There are some cases where clauses of the Standard do not apply to certain companies, such as, Customer Supplied Product or Servicing. In these cases the clause should be addressed in your Quality System by an explanation indicating that it is not applicable to your company.

Q: I plan on implementing our management system and performing a complete internal audit together with a formalized management review prior to the initial certification audit, what other steps should I take?
A: I would suggest that you prepare company personnel on what to expect during the registration audit. Some people have a tendency to become nervous during the audit interview process, tell your personnel to relax during the interviews and if they don't understand the auditor's question ask the auditor for clarification.

Q: What are the steps in the certification process?
A: There are five steps in the certification process. They are:

  1. Application
  2. Agreement Acceptance
  3. Documentation Review
  4. Certification Audit
  5. Approval

Q: What steps in the certification process are optional?
A: There are certain optional steps in the certification process. They include the beginning informational meeting and up to three pre-assessments.

Q: How long will it take to go through the certification process?
A: The certification process is broken into two time segments. The length of the certification process before the documentation review can vary based upon where you are in your documentation. After documentation review, the process takes six to nine months.

Q: My management system is in place, but I'm not sure if I'm ready for my certification audit. What should I do?
A: If you have a QMS already in place but are unsure if you are ready for the certification audit, we recommend opting for a pre- assessment audit.

Q: What will happen once my company becomes certified?
A: Once your company becomes certified, the surveillance audit schedule begins.

Q: Where does my documentation review take place?
A: Your documentation review takes place on-site unless otherwise agreed upon.

Q: How long is my certification valid?
A: Your certification is valid for three years from the date of the certification committee's approval.

Q: What happens if I don't pass my certification audit?
A: If you have a certification audit that results in major findings and do not receive your certificate, follow-up will be conducted to verify the effectiveness of any correction actions to the major findings. If all findings are satisfactorily completed, a certificate will be issued.

Q: What is a finding?
A: Findings are either single (minor) or multiple / systematic (major) lapses of your QMS to the ISO standards.

Q: What happens during the certification audit?
A: During the certification audit, a comprehensive review of your QMS to the standard takes place. This review is conducted using interviews, reviews of records, etc.

Q: What will the audit team require before and during the certification?
A: During the certification the audit team will require a work area and access to business machines (i.e.) phone, fax, copier, etc.

Q: How often will my company be audited once certified?
A: You will have the opportunity to decide how frequently your company is audited. You can choose between the Annual Scheme - a surveillance audit every twelve months, or the Semi-Annual Scheme - a surveillance audit every six months.

Q: How are multiple shifts handled during the certification audit?
A: Multiple shifts are handled by overlapping the audit schedule, records, etc.

Q: When will I know if I passed my certification audit?
A: The Program Administrator will inform you if you passed your certification audit after the Certification Committee approves it.

Q: When will I get my audit report?
A: You will get your audit report at the end of the audit or within two weeks.

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Costs

Q: What is the basis for pricing certification services?
A: Pricing for certification services is based on the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) Mandatory Document for Duration of QMS and EMS AuditsL Table QMS 1 and Table EMS 1

Q: How does the price differ between Annual and Semi-Annual schemes?
A: The costs for the two different certification schemes - the Annual Certification Scheme and the Semi-Annual Certification Scheme - are approximately the same for the three year cycle

Q: Another registrar already certifies me. How much would it cost to transfer my certificate to HSB?
A: The cost to transfer a current certificate to HSB-RS is minimal. It can take anywhere from zero to a specific number of mandays based on the status of your current QMS.

Q: Are auditor travel costs included?
A: The auditor travel costs are not included. Details can be found in the terms and conditions of the agreement.

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Definitions

Q: What is the difference between certification, registration, and accreditation?
A: The terms certification and registration are used interchangeably to refer to process of becoming certified. Accreditation is the procedure by which an accrediting body gives formal recognition to group signifying that group is competent to carry out specific tasks.

Q: What is the difference between an auditor and a Lead Auditor?
A: An auditor is an individual who will examine your processes. A LEAD auditor is an auditor who has been qualified to organize and manage the audit process.

Q: What is the difference between a preliminary audit and a pre-assessment audit?
A: The terms preliminary audit and pre-assessment audit are used interchangeably to refer to the optional audit before the certification audit.

Q: What is the difference between a surveillance audit and a re-certification audit?
A: A re-certification audit is a complete certification audit performed at the end of a three year cycle. The surveillance audit is a partial system review that is performed during the three year cycle.

Q: What is the difference between "standards" and "requirements"?
A: Standards (for example - ISO 9001) are a published series of rules, regulations and recommendations. Requirements are rules and regulations required by the customer.

Q: What is the definition of consulting?
A: Consulting is defined as any assistance or training that is provided as a means of preparation for an audit.

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Multisite Certification

Q: Can a certificate state something like “And all offices/sites that are under direct control of the corporate office”? (i.e. Company XYZ has 4 Regional offices and a number of smaller offices under the Regional Offices. How do we address those location?
A: "Requirement: One single certificate shall be issued with the name and address of the central office of the organization. A list of all the sites to which the certificate relates shall be issued, either on the certificate itself or in an appendix or as otherwise referred to in the certificate. The scope or other reference on the certificate shall make clear that the certified / registered activities are performed by the network of sites in the list"

Answer: No. The Certificate shall list all those sites (offices) the registration covers (most likely those sites that are registered will be listed on an annex page to the certificate). During the contract review phase our client is required to inform us of the sites they want registered and included on the certificate. As the last sentence in the above italicized text states, our cert needs to clearly state that the certificate/registration applies only to those sites listed thereon. As for your question on the number of smaller offices under the regional offices, if they are not included as part of the audit sample of sites they are outside the scope of the certificate (and are not listed on the cert).

Note: Related to this subject, we do not mandate that all sites controlled/owned by a client be registered; only those sites the client requests being registered/certified.

Q: "Requirement:The products/services provided by all the sites have to be substantially of the same kind and have to be produced fundamentally according to the same methods and procedures."
Does this mean working to the same EAC/SIC Code?

A: No. Each of the EAC & SIC codes covers a diversity of products. As an example, the following is a brief listing of some of the products that fall under SIC Code 34:

3411 Metal Cans
3432 Plumbing Fixture Fittings And Trim
3433 Heating Equipment, Except Electric And Warm Air Furnaces
3443 Fabricated Plate Work (boiler Shops)
3444 Sheet Metal Work
3462 Iron And Steel Forgings
3465 Automotive Stampings
3469 Metal Stampings, Not Elsewhere Classified
3471 Electroplating, Plating, Polishing, Anodizing, And Coloring
3479 Coating, Engraving, And Allied Services, Not Elsewhere Classified
3482 Small Arms Ammunition
3483 Ammunition, Except For Small Arms
3491 Industrial Valves
3496 Miscellaneous Fabricated Wire Products

HSB Registration Services has the responsibility in determining applicability of this requirement, so each client will be handled on a case-by-case basis (as we currently do today).

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Roles and Responsibilities

Q: Who will be on my audit team?
A: You will be assigned an Audit Team Leader whom will assemble an auditing team best suited for your industry, geography and management style.

Q: Where are the auditors located?
A: Our auditors are located in various geographic areas. It is important that the Audit Team Leader effectively utilizes the auditors to provide the best team at the optimal cost.

Q: What is the role of the certification body?
A: The certification body's role is to verify the effectiveness of your management system as defined by the standard.

Q: What is the role of the Audit Team Leader?
A: The Audit Team Leader's role is to organize and manage the audit process.

Q: Who should my company call with questions and concerns?
A: Your company should call or email your Audit Team Leader and/or Program Administrator with all your questions and concerns.

Q: How does the certification body obtain / maintain its accreditation?
A: The certification body obtains / maintains its accreditation through an Accreditation Body review which takes place through office visits and during onsite audits.

Q: Who makes the final decision about whether my company has passed its certification audit?
A: The certification body's Certification Committee makes the final decision regarding whether or not your company meets all the requirements in the standard.

Q: Who sits on the certification committee?
A: The Certification Committee consists of the certification chairman and additional non-biased auditors and members not assigned to your audit team.

Q: What input, if any, does the customer have regarding the composition of the certification committee?
A: The registration prospect has no input regarding the composition of the Certification Committee.

Q: Who is responsible for generating the audit documentation (i.e.) reports, findings, etc.?
A: The Audit Team Leader is responsible for generating the audit documentation including reports and findings.

Q: Where does the documentation reside for my certification and who is responsible for its maintenance?
A: The documentation for your certification resides in our Wayne, Pennsylvania office and is maintained by the Program Administrator.

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