The Value of a Pre-assessment Visit
Organisations who apply for accreditation have the option of having a pre-assessment prior to having their initial assessment. While it is a voluntary part of the accreditation process, it has been shown to shorten the process by improving the applicant’s ‘readiness’ for the initial assessment.
Your organisation will have spent time and money to understand the accreditation standard, develop a management system and maybe even employed a consultant to guide you through the process. . However, applicants that have not had a pre-assessment or previous extensive experience of accreditation assessments are often under-prepared for the initial assessment.
Common problems include:
- Misunderstanding of some requirements within the standard
- Missing requirements within the standard or incorrectly determining a requirement does not apply to the organisation;
- A lack of implementation of processes and policies;
- Practise not matching documented policy and process.
These problems can lead to increased cost and/or timeframe for gaining accreditation. For example, misunderstanding the requirements of the standard can lead to the need for significant rework on policy and procedure. Day-to-day operations not relating to documented procedures may require DiversityAustralia to repeat some or all of the initial assessment in order to observe the activity and be in a position to assess its suitability.
What is involved in a pre-assessment visit?
During the visit, DiversityAustralia carries out a review of your management system documentation in order to identify any significant gaps or misunderstandings, and to determine that it is applied throughout the organisation and translates into everyday practices. The visit will also highlight any specific requirements that fall outside of the standard that may have been overlooked and identify areas where the organisation may have over complicated its implementation where a more efficient approach may be possible.
It also provides the opportunity for discussion between DiversityAustralia and the customer on the requirements of the standard, the assessment process, and best practice in the sector.
A pre-assessment visit does not guarantee that there will be no nonconformities raised at an initial assessment or that the initial assessment will have a positive recommendation. However applicants that opt for a pre-assessment visit, and subsequently act upon the issues raised, are in a better position for the initial assessment.
The initial assessment visit
Once you have addressed any issues raised during the pre-assessment visit, the initial assessment is the first formal assessment.
This will be conducted by a Lead Assessor (normally your Assessment Manager) supported, as necessary, by technical assessors with the expertise to cover your scope of application. The length of the visit will depend upon the scope of application requested. The Assessment Manager will provide you with a quotation for the work involved.
The practicalities of the assessment
In advance of the visit, you will receive a visit confirmation followed by a visit plan, which provides a proposed timetable for the work to be assessed.
- An opening meeting will take place to agree the arrangements.
- The assessment will involve a detailed review of your records.
- Interviews will take place with staff and managers, as well as witnessing of key activities.
- A full vertical and horizontal audit will take place.
- A de-brief of the visit and any findings will be discussed at a closing meeting.
- DiversityAustralia will provide a full report during or immediately following the assessment visit. This will detail any findings or improvement actions identified against accreditation requirements. You will be asked to advise DiversityAustralia on how you will address them.
The assessment team will make a recommendation at the closing meeting.