Deadlines are an important part of the TIC industry. To be able to manage issued certificates in a timely manner the Certification Body needs to keep track of many deadlines.
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Deadlines on the TIC industry
Deadlines are an important part of the TIC industry. To be able to manage issued certificates in a timely manner the Certification Body needs to keep track of many deadlines. A certain deadline in the certification process is the expiration date of a certificate, but that is not the only deadline the process holds. Non-conformities follow-ups have their own deadlines. Appeals, complaints and objects have a deadline. The audit date has a deadline. Even the reply time to a client as a deadline. It can become a real burden trying to manage all of these. How do you do it?
Practical deadline management
Auditors know this like no other, the first thing to do when preparing an audit is following up on outstanding non-conformities. But what is the status of those non-conformities? This question triggers an endless search for documents, reports and non-conformity files on. They have to find these within their deadline.
Each morning the scheduler finds different notes on his desk and a couple missed called. It is up to the scheduler to deal with all the changes in the audit dates. Otherwise, the scheduler feels the blame for the expired certificate. When this happens the Certification Body receives complaints from clients about expiring certificates, who put pressure on the scheduler again.
Clients need to manage non-conformities from different standards and Certification Bodies. Non-conformities are only reported in the final report or a separate email. There are no reminders. How do Certification Bodies assure the follow-up? How and when should the Certification Body review the evidence?
And the list of all the things to keep track of is endless. The hardest part of keeping track of tasks is that the tasks usually get swallowed up in the bigger ‘day-to-day’ issues. They stand alone in between a mist of equally important issues. And so the auditor, the scheduler and the client are all left wondering about who did what, when, and where.
The causes of deadline troubles.
Most actions within a Certification Body are related to deadlines and frequencies. Audits, outstanding non-conformities and complex follow-up actions all contribute to a near endless list of things to keep track of. This can quickly become complex, especially when all deadlines are related to each other and the penalties of missing one are big (e.g. the revoke or suspension of a certificate).
The problem lays in a decentralised data system. Point solutions and loose checklists no longer offer any value. When the deadlines are intertwined, but the data management system is not the possibility of missing important dates is imminent. If you can still manage to tie all deadlines together, chances are that this costs lots of resources.
Missing a single audit is not the end of the world. Even missing a non-conformity follow-up deadline can be managed eventually. The problem is that by missing deadlines and forgetting audits your organization as a whole will become less respected and valued by your clients. On the other hand, Accreditation Bodies are keen on timely follow up of each action. If your organization gets labelled ‘untrustworthy’ it is very hard to change this perspective. Clients judge quickly when you keep missing deadlines and audits.
When you are able to manage all deadlines, frequencies and communicate those clearly to your clients you do not only save your reputation, but also valuable resources. We have seen that our clients save up to 50% of their time, especially the hand-on time, and even increase their revenue by booking the hours related to these activities.
Next to that it improves your client’s satisfactory rate and will certainly be beneficial for your own accreditation.
The solutions to the deadline problem.
IT systems can solve the stress which is related to missing deadlines. Beware, there are many interdependencies between the certification process steps. Loose or decentralized solutions (or point solutions) alone will not solve the deadline problem. Automation of standalone lists will not solve the issue, it will only manage the actions related to that specific process step. What can solve the deadline problem?
Only an integrated solution for acquisition, quote, planning, execution, invoicing and certification will manage timely follow-ups of all audits, non-conformities and certificate renewals. Client portal would really optimise the way you communicate with your clients and would enable them to timely follow up on their actions (due to timely reminders).