Does your certification provider supply you with an audit plan? Do they supply it with sufficient time before the audit commences? If the answer is no to either or both of these questions, you deserve better.
Without this invaluable tool, how can you satisfactorily prepare for the audit? Never forget that the certification process is a relationship journey, not just one of inspection and compliance. When you are in a relationship, both parties need to contribute. It is very difficult to ensure the right people are available at the right time so that the auditor is reviewing the right process owners and associated records.
A good audit plan will let you know the dates, the times, the locations, the relevant clauses of the standard and or the relevant process under review. It will also let you know who will be conducting the audit. With those certification providers who constantly change your auditor, this will give you time to verify that person’s experience and track record. Can you do that? Yes, you can. Remember, it is a relationship, you need to be comfortable with the person you are about to share your organisation’s inner most quality machinations.
Another important aspect of an audit plan is to validate the audit durations, the reporting, the sample plans (for multisite organisations), etc against the invoice you will receive. You then use both (plan and invoice) to compare the proposal / agreement you have with the certification body to ensure you are getting what was agreed to. If you cannot get the plan you expect / deserve in a timely fashion, perhaps it is time to review your service provider options.