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#57 5 mistakes to avoid during an ISO Assessment

#57 5 mistakes to avoid during an ISO Assessment

Fail to prepare, then prepare to fail.  If you don’t want to fail an assessment before you’ve even begun, be prepared. I’m just going to take you through the top 5 mistakes companies make that can lead to stress and failure – now this isn’t a definitive list – there are of course many things that could go wrong, I’m just going to share with you my 5 favourite blunders that you can very easily avoid.

Fail to prepare, then prepare to fail.  If you don’t want to fail an assessment before you’ve even begun, be prepared.

I’m just going to take you through the top 5 mistakes companies make that can lead to stress and failure – now this isn’t a definitive list – there are of course many things that could go wrong, I’m just going to share with you my 5 favourite blunders that you can very easily avoid.

  1. Not informing employees

Yes – pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised to hear how many times a Management systems is just kept to one person and a communications plan has not been implemented to inform all employees.  The best informed employees make the best people to be assessed.

Imagine – you are an assessor and you rock up only to hear an employee when asked about their process say ‘What process? What Environmental Policy?

  • Business Continuity Planning – What’s the point in having a BCP if no one know how to how to respond to an incident?
  • By not informing employees – As it triggers bad vibes i.e nervous, wary, stressed
  • Communication plan – CEO, Champions, agenda of meetings, launch, newsletter updates, online comms i.e. slack
  • Not having access to the right people
  • The assessor doesn’t need to see every single person.
  • Does need to see the key process owners and some representatives from the leadership team.
  • Quality – operations, HR, key process owners i.e. heads of functions
  • Environment – Facilities Managers, an Environnemental Champion.
  • Information Security – IT, back-ups, incident reporting, HR (starters/leavers) and physical security i.e. Office Manager or if you are in services offices – give the person on reception the heads up.
  • Make sure you have the agenda for the visits well in advance – all reputable UKAS accredited certification bodies should send this to you weeks in advance – if they haven’t chase it.
  • This helps you to ensure that the right people are available at the right time.
  • Not having access to your management system

Sounds silly, but you’d be surprised.

  • We’ve even come across cases of rogue consultants where the Management system is owned (IP and all) by the consultant – not the company. Scary!
  • Make sure you have access to your policies, procedures, documents and templates
  • These can be online, displayed, hard copy or audio/visual
  • Nothing more embarrassing than missing a key document or you’ve got 3 versions of it, and no one know which is the right one.
  • Accessiblity is key – Sharepoint/intranet/wiki’s/dropboc
  • Not having access to your records.
  • Stage 2 Assessment is a ‘Show and tell’ –make sure the right people and have access to the right records.
  • Pre-empt any pitfalls  – a disorganised business will have records all over the place – because there is no structure.
  • Also, make sure your supplier records are compliant – one of the main causes of non-conformities in Environmental management and Health and Safety is lack of accurate supplier records
  • Waste records, Lift maintenance records, FGas records – most of these aren’t ISO Standards requirements – they are LEGAL requirements.
  • Legal register/due diligence

And last but not least……

  • Don’t make any assumptions
  • Don’t make any assumptions that that your assessor will know your business inside out – they won’t understand your culture, vision, values and USP’s.
  • Use this as an opportunity to showcase all the strengths of your business and how well managed it is.  With our clients we’ll always get the representative of the leadership in the room for the kick-off meeting –
  • Don’t worry the assessor doesn’t need to be glued to the assessors hip all day every day, 30 mins attendance at the kick-off meeting max is suffice. This shows the business is serious about their ISO Commitment and demonstrates that there is full leadership support and that employees are onboard. 
  • Likewise – don’t assume that your assessor knows nothing about your industry – in many cases, if you are in a sector, chances are that your assessor i.e. construction, engineering, manufacturing your assessor has seen the good, the bad and the ugly.
  • Take notes, so you can refer back to these – as there can be some valuable observations that an assessor may make which you could take back to your continual improvement process.  Don’t assume that these will be captured in the report at the end of the assessment.

So to recap – the 5 mistakes to avoid in an ISO assessment are……

  1. Not informing employees
  2. Not having access to the right people on the days of the assessment
  3. Not having access to your management system
  4. Not having access to your records.
  5. Don’t make any assumptions

And don’t forget, these mistakes can easily be prevented if you prepare well before an assessment.

In the words of Benjamin Franklin, By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

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