The third party certification audit is carried out much in the same way as first party and second party quality system assessments and audits. However, the big difference is that an independent accredited auditing body carries out the assessment and audit, as opposed to carrying it out yourself. Also note that you are responsible for the payment of the third party audit process.
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Steps involved during the ISO 9001 Third Party Audit
- Contact should be made with your local Registration Accreditation Board (RAB). They are responsible for accrediting auditing companies/bodies. They will provide you with a list of accredited auditing companies which you can contact for details and a price quote;
- After an agreement regarding price and terms has been reached, you should submit a level one and two quality manual for evaluation. Only after your manual has been accepted, an auditing team will come to your organisation and conduct an audit on your quality system;
- A certificate of compliance will be issued to you after compliance took place. An assigned registration number will accompany the certificate of compliance. The registration number is necessary for identifying your organisation as a certified and registered ISO 9000 company; and
- After the processes of certification and registration, you are required to pay semiannual maintenance fees that are above and beyond the initial certification and registration fees. The whole process repeats itself every three to four years; you should thus get re-audited and recertified again, and pay for everything once again. It is of the utmost importance to know from the start which fees you commit yourself to, so as to avoid any nasty surprises later on.
Main Objective of the ISO 9001 Third Party Audit
In theory, a third party audit should eliminate multiple audits; however, that has not always been the case. The third party independent audit has fulfilled its main objective if the product or services are critical enough to affect the health and safety of the personnel manufacturing the product, and if it protects the consumer using the end product, or if it protects critical environmental issues. Thus, it has fulfilled its main objective once the quality management system proves to be effective.