QMS-EMS Audit Days

How many audit days would a registrar estimate for your initial stage 1 and stage 2 certification audits, ongoing surveillance visits, and re-certification audits?

The International Accreditation Forum (IAF) recently issued a Mandatory Document (IAF MD 5:2009) for certification bodies that contains mandatory provisions and guidance on the time required to audit their clients. The MD 5:2009 document applies to quality management systems (QMS) and environmental management systems (EMS).

The effective number of personnel indicated in the QMS and EMS tables below consists of all full-time personnel within the scope of the certification, including those working on each shift. Non-permanent (seasonal, temporary, and contracted personnel) and part-time personnel who will be present at the time of the audit are included in the numbers. Dependent on the hours worked, the part-time personnel numbers can be converted to an equivalent number of full-time personnel.

Annex A – QMS Audit Duration

Annex B – EMS Audit Duration

The audit duration for all types of audits includes on-site time at a client’s premises and time spent off-site carrying out planning, performing document review, interacting with client personnel, and writing the report. The off-site activities should not reduce the total on-site audit duration to less than 80% of the times shown in the tables above.

The audit days are based on eight hours per day. The audit days cannot be reduced by planning on longer hours per working day.

Surveillance Audits

During the initial three-year certification period, surveillance audits should be proportional to the time spent on the initial certification audit. The total amount of time spent annually on surveillance audits should be about 1/3 the time spent on the initial certification audit (stage 1 + stage 2). Surveillance audit duration in future periods should take into account organizational changes and system maturity.

Re-Certification Audits

The re-certification audit is normally 2/3 of the time spent on the initial certification audit (stage 1 + stage 2). Future re-certification audits should be based on the time that would be required for the initial certification audit if it were to be carried out at the time of re-certification (not 2/3 of the original initial certification audit). The audit duration should also take into account the review of system performance.

Adjustment Factors

MD 5:2009 identifies factors to consider for possibly increasing the audit duration, such as complicated logistics, multiple languages, large physical site, highly regulated, and complex processes. Considerations for decreasing the audit duration include factors such as excluded requirements, system maturity, other certifications, identical shifts, multiple sites, and low complexity. The MD 5 guidance states a reduction in audit duration would be unlikely to exceed 30% of the times established from the tables.

The tables are frameworks for audit planning and making adjustments to audit duration for all types of audits. The intent of MD 5:2009 is to lead to consistency of audit duration between certification bodies, as well as, between similar clients of the same certification body.

MD 5:2009 is based upon guidance previously provided in GD2:2005 Annex 2 (for QMS) and GD6:2006 Annex 1 (for EMS). You can download a copy of MD 5:2009 at the IAF web site by clicking on Publications in the menu and then selecting MD 5:2009 from the Mandatory Documents list.