Many professionals still have questions on this topic, but it is possible to appeal non-conformities received during an audit.
During a certification process, companies often receive non-conformities due to discrepancies in their processes against the standards. Similarly, you might disagree with the non-conformance. In such cases, it’s possible to appeal for a reevaluation of this occurrence.
As a management systems professional, it’s beneficial to understand this process and how it operates within your certification body. For us at QMS Certification, explaining this process aligns with our commitment to integrity and transparency.
Thus, today’s article will delve into how our non-conformance appeal process works and address questions about it. Let’s dive in!
What is a Non-Conformance Appeal?
An appeal arises when, during an audit, the company or involved professionals disagree with a non-conformance issued by the auditor.
It’s a relatively straightforward process that escalates the occurrence to a higher level within the certification body for a new analysis.
When to Resort to the Non-Conformance Appeal Process?
Generally, our auditors are trained in top auditing techniques and receive training in the standards they audit, ensuring optimal auditing sessions.
They are also guided to technically explain the determined non-conformities, conducting a professional analysis based on audit criteria. In moments of disagreement, our professionals will always seek a consensus with those being audited by grounding the non-conformity and presenting evidence of its occurrence.
Thus, unresolved disagreements during the audit itself are rare. In such cases, you can appeal to the certification body. It’s essential to demystify this process since it can be conducted in a friendly and transparent manner. After all, whatever the situation, the goal is to find the best solution for the company, identifying improvement areas or possibilities to address non-conformities.
We guide our auditors to allocate moments to discuss any discrepancies and allow companies to demonstrate compliance. This can occur during the audit, and the auditor will explain the appeal process at the end during the closing meeting.
How to Lodge an Appeal Against a Non-Conformance?
The first step is reaching out to the certification entity via their official communication channels. For QMS, this involves sending an email (please check their current address here).
In this correspondence, it’s imperative to outline the reasons for the disagreement, substantiating your appeal as comprehensively as possible. This could involve referencing the audited standard or other documents from your QMS.
Another critical aspect is to present evidence of compliance concerning the specific matter under appeal. After all, the non-conformance was issued because, at some point, the auditor believed that your company fell short of a particular standard or requirement.
Therefore, the appeal must showcase evidence of compliance, suggesting an oversight in this regard. Naturally, it’s crucial to specify the exact non-conformity in question.
Handling of Non-Conformance Appeals
Once you provide this information, we commence a specific handling procedure. During this phase, the situation is subject to a renewed analysis.
To uphold the credibility and impartiality of the procedure, a team distinct from the one that conducted your company’s audit manages the appeal. None of those who participated in recording the non-conformity will be involved. This approach is consistent with our commitment to transparency, ethics, and acting with integrity concerning both your company and the noted discrepancy. The process is structured to enable a detailed examination of the non-conformity and the auditor’s findings, as well as the issues you highlighted in your appeal.
This entails deeper dives into documentation, on-site investigations, fresh interviews, and all other relevant measures to arrive at a well-founded and realistic conclusion about the cited non-conformity.
Response and Final Verdict
Upon receiving your appeal, we initiate an exhaustive investigation, evaluating all the presented factors. This enables us to determine if the non-conformity truly existed and subsequently provide a response.
The final decision rests with the certification entity. Rest assured, any response, be it affirmative or negative, will be technically grounded. Furthermore, all clarifications and insights will be relayed in a clear, ethical, and transparent manner.
In many instances, the non-conformity might be upheld as legitimate and necessary, serving as a catalyst for your company’s betterment. In other scenarios, it might be downgraded to a potential area for improvement. In some cases, it might be dismissed as not being a non-conformity at all.
The True Objective Behind Appeals and Non-Conformities
There are various possible outcomes, but it’s essential to recognize that the technical team responsible for addressing the discrepancy will always prioritize what offers the most favorable outcome for your management system. As a certification entity, we set up a technical committee capable of evaluating the evidence, the audited standards, and the requirements involved in the identified discrepancy. This committee is equipped to review all the information and present the best possible outcome for your company.
The genuine purpose of this process (and non-conformities as a whole) is to facilitate continuous improvement and forge a robust management system. As such, the end result of any appeal will be the one deemed most advantageous for your company and its processes.