The Certification Process will generally include the following steps:
The process starts with the client’s needs and expectations. DQS wants to learn about the client’s organization, its management system, size and types of operation. Together both parties will define objectives for the audit and/or certification, including applicable standards and specifications.
DQS will provide a detailed offer for auditing and certification services, tailored to individual client needs, based on the information provided initially. A written contract will specify all relevant deliverables as well as applicable auditing and certification criteria.
A pre-audit can serve as initial performance or gap analysis, identifying strengths and areas for improvement. For larger auditing and certification projects, a project planning meeting provides a valuable opportunity for the client to meet the lead auditor and develop a customized audit program and schedule for all functions and locations involved. Both services are optional.
System analysis (Stage 1 audit): The certification process itself begins with review and evaluation of system documentation, goals, results of management review and internal audits. During this process, it will be determined whether the client’s management system is sufficiently developed and ready for certification. The auditor will explain findings and coordinate any required activities to prepare for the on-site system audit.
System audit (Stage 2 audit): The auditor or the assigned audit team will audit the client’s management system at the place of production or service delivery. Applying defined management system standards and specifications, the audit team will evaluate the effectiveness of all functional areas as well as all management system processes, based upon observations, inspections, interviews, review of pertinent records, and other audit techniques. The audit result, including all findings, will be presented to the client during the closing meeting. Required action plans will be agreed upon as necessary.
System evaluation: The independent certification function of DQS will evaluate the audit process and its results, and decide independently about issuance of the certificate. The client receives an audit report, documenting the audit results. When all applicable requirements are fulfilled, the client also receives the certificate.
Surveillance audits Either semi-annually or at least once per year, there will be an on-site audit of the critical components of the management system. Improvement potential will be identified, with a focus on continual improvement and sustained effectiveness.
A management system certificate is valid for a limited period of time, frequently for a maximum of three years. At the end of this cycle, a re-certification will be carried out to ensure the ongoing fulfillment of all applicable requirements. Subject to this fulfillment, a new certificate will be issued.
For sector specific standards, the described certification process may differ.