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Stage 2 of your Audit - How to Prepare and What to Expect

26 May 2021
The purpose of this dialogue is to consider the second part of your journey to ISO 9001:2015. Read on to find out what you can do to prepare and what to expect during your assessment.

“All assessment is perpetual work in progress” – Linda Suskie

See the first part of this blog series on addressing and preparing for your stage 1 audit here.

If you have been successful at Stage 1 assessment you have already been assessed for readiness, so remember, the purpose of Stage 1 is to make sure you have the processes in place and a checklist of ISO clauses met. The objective of your Stage 2 audit is to test these process and see that they are effective and achieving what you have set them out to achieve

What can you expect from your Stage 2 audit?

  • Your assessor will email the audit contact 6-3 weeks prior to the audit with a plan, (depending on when you have your Stage 1), if you need more time contact your auditor and request your plan earlier.

  • Make sure you read the plan and clarify any bits you don’t understand prior to the audit in advance, if possible; make an appointment with the assessor to discuss over the phone or video call. You may notice on the plan we are with clients generally from 9am to 4pm so ad hoc calls or email replies can be difficult during this time of day, we would rather give you some quality time to discuss so we are always happy to get something scheduled in with you.

  • Go through the Standard you are being assessed for against the plan, and check what your scope is: we can only assess if you meet the Standard and ask for evidence relevant to your scope.

  • I recommend that you have conducted a thorough internal audit to check your system before your NQA auditor arrives, this will enable you to flag and rectify any potential issues before they become an official non-conformance.

  • As the representative of the business, you will be in the best position to know who is going to be the right person for the auditor to speak to. It is best to co-ordinate diaries and let people know they are likely to be part of the audit and what time prior to the day. Plans provided are time flexible, we respect your time and will always be happy to accommodate when best to see people.

  • Be prepared that we are chatty folk and we are assessing from the moment the audit opening meeting has been completed. We like to chat to people on the tours of the premises and it is likely if you guide us away from an area or people, we will be drawn ever the more to that area!

  • We need to collect evidence; Stage 1 we review the processes and see evidence to ensure the process is compliant, Stage 2 we need to observe the processes in action and see that they are effective.

  • Leadership is a core part of all ISO Standards, we do therefore need a short space of time with top management (ideally Managing Director), but it’s valuable for us to speak with process users too.

  • We are a friendly bunch and ultimately we are not there to try and catch you out or make you fail. We want you to achieve certification as much as you do! Please feel free to speak out to us, ask questions and if there is anything you don't understand, ask us to clarify. We want you to get the most out of your time with us too!

  • A few minor non-conformances aren't considered failure - these will help you learn and improve moving forward.

The key part is to not worry, and if it makes you feel any better, remember that every report produced by your assessor is checked by the decision makers, we also have to be assessed ourselves annually by our field managers on audits, and also by UKAS; our regulator. We really understand how nerve wracking it may feel, however, all of us being assessed must remember that the output will only ever be confirmation of compliance or a way of becoming better!

Are you considering NQA Training but not sure which way to turn or which course to book? Our Journey Guide will will point you in the right direction.

Authored by: Judith Hargreaves, NQA Auditor