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HQAI maintains accreditation

July 2021

We practice what we preach: we believe that independent audits are key to improve and reliably demonstrate quality and competence. For this reason HQAI undergoes external scrutiny against ISO/IEC 17065:2012 for its CHS certification scheme. This month's surveillance audit has just confirmed HQAI's accreditation.
Accreditation is the “certification of the certifying body” by an official accreditation body, usually a government agency. This process ensures that HQAI complies with ISO relevant standards and builds trust with stakeholders.

Accreditation? Certification? ISO? Who evaluates what? The following lines will clarify some concepts and benefits.

About HQAI and certification

HQAI offers third-party quality assurance services (= independent audits) against the CHS.
As opposed to first-party (self-assessment) and second-party (peer review) assessments, third-party quality assurance is conducted by an independent body. Independent certification is generally considered the most robust means to generate a reliable, objective assessment of the extent to which a standard is applied. Thousands of organisations across sectors use the process to credibly demonstrate compliance with standards and as a tool for learning and continuous improvement.

About accreditation

Accreditation was initially delivered in December 2018 and is reconfirmed annually. It covers HQAI-operated certification against the CHS. Accreditation formally recognises the quality of HQAI’s certification services. It also validates the robustness of CHS certificates issued by HQAI, thus increasing their value for audited partners. To maintain the accredited status, HQAI has to undergo annual surveillance audits (read the July 2021 report here).

The Accreditation Body ACCREDIA is a member of the international Accreditation Forum and a signatory of the Multi-Lateral Agreement (IAF MLA), hence legitimising HQAI’s accreditation globally.

Certification is one of the services HQAI offers for organisations.

A Certification Scheme is a set of requirements with which the certified product, process or service must comply. Schemes generally also include instructions for how the certified product, process, service can maintain its certification, an activity known as “surveillance”. For many stakeholders certification builds trust.

HQAI’s Certification Scheme operates within the CHS Alliance verification scheme and is ruled by international standards (ISO/IEC 17065:2012).

Accreditation is the “certification of the certifying body," hence of HQAI.

Accreditation for HQAI-operated CHS certification was obtained in December 2018 and reconfirmed in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Accreditation adds another layer of trust: products, processes and services that are certified by an accredited certification body are acknowledged globally and independently trusted. Accreditation hence contributes to improving the reputation of certified organisations.

The Accreditation Body ACCREDIA is a member of the International Accreditation Forum and a signatory of the Multi-Lateral Agreement (IAF MLA).

Signatory members of the MLA are rigorously peer evaluated to ensure that appropriate and consistent assessments against ISO/IEC 17065 are being performed. The mechanism of mutual recognition between IAF members legitimises HQAI’s accreditation globally.

Not all readers know that an international conformity assessment standard exists for the operation of certifying organisations.
ISO/IEC 17065:2012 “Requirements for bodies certifying products, processes and services” has a number of requirements for organisational structure, quality management system, competence of personnel, confidentiality, certification scheme and process, responsiveness to complaints and appeals, risk management etc.

ISO/IEC 17065:2012 rules HQAI’s processes and ensures that HQAI meets international regulations.

Credibility and Trust: Accreditation enhances the credibility and trustworthiness of certification bodies. It signals stakeholders that an independent body has assessed the certification body and that it meets international standards for performing audits.

International Recognition: Accreditation evaluates the competence and expertise of certification bodies in their specific domains, assuring stakeholders of their ability to conduct accurate assessments. Accreditation bodies, often signatories to mutual recognition agreements, ensure that certifications from accredited bodies are widely accepted across national borders, reinforcing their credibility.

Impartiality and Independence: Accreditation ensures that certification bodies operate impartially and independently. This means they are free from conflicts of interest and can render fair and unbiased assessments. For example, a typical accreditation audit checks that we have systems in place to ensure any certification decision is free from external pressures and based on objective facts.

Consistency and Reliability: Accreditation promotes consistency and reliability in the certification process. It ensures that the certification decisions are based on objective and transparent criteria and that auditors follow the same methodology in all audits. This is why the accreditation audit regularly observes audits and pays particular attention to how HQAI trains the auditors and monitors their performance.

Continual Improvement: Accreditation fosters a culture of constant improvement within certification bodies. The reports provide feedback that supports certification bodies in identifying and addressing areas for improvement.