There are two ways in which SSAIB can increase its offering of accredited schemes. The first is to apply to UKAS for accreditation. This can take some time to achieve. The alternative method, which SSAIB use for schemes or standards that are close to our existing offerings, is called “flexible scope”.
As a certification body, SSAIB holds accreditation from the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) for many different schemes or scopes. Certificates issued to registered firms for UKAS accredited schemes carry the national accreditation symbol also known as the UKAS logo or “crown and tick” logo.
The principle behind flexible scopes is that UKAS have determined SSAIB’s competence to apply its knowledge, skills, and experience to different activities, so long as we remain within the boundaries of those activities SSAIB can develop new accredited certification schemes.
One reason for use of the flexible scope process is when BSI issue a new version of a standard. SSAIB will not be automatically accredited to the new version. Other reasons include when there is an expression of interest in a new scheme or standard by an applicant firm or we may wish to expand our scope of certification.
The certification by SSAIB is not fully accredited by UKAS until they have assessed (audited) SSAIB for the new scope. Until that time, the scopes (schemes/standards) that are included under the flexible scope are listed on the SSAIB website.
How does this affect me?
Firms seeking certification for a standard covered by the flexible scope process will be informed of this. If you are uncertain you can refer to the audit booking letter and plan.
SSAIB may contact potential certification customers with a proposal to conduct necessary pilot audits.
Pilot audits are used to test our ability to carry out the audit, to check that the paperwork used is correct and verify our confidence in the process. Pilot audits will only take place when SSAIB are reasonably certain that it will be successful and the risk of a failure of SSAIB’s systems is low. Following a pilot audit, the SSAIB shall conduct an analysis of the audit, the paperwork used, competence of our auditors, etc. If is concluded that there is a failure corrective action shall be taken. Such actions will include informing the audited firm that an accredited certificate cannot be issued. In some cases, elements of the audit may need to be repeated (although this is unlikely).
Reports including results which are covered by the flexible scope will clearly state that the outcome falls within the bounds of the flexible scope of accreditation.
As stated above, the certification by SSAIB is not fully accredited by UKAS until they have assessed (audited) SSAIB for the new scope. After UKAS have granted accreditation, it can be checked on the UKAS (www.ukas.com) website and SSAIB may issue certificates including the UKAS logo showing the certification is accredited.
SSAIB are permitted to place the UKAS logo on certificates issued under the flexible scope process before accreditation is given. SSAIB only do this in situations when a standard is updated, and we have good confidence. In other cases, the UKAS logo may be added to a new certificate issued after accreditation. If you are given a certificate showing accreditation but covered by the flexible process it will contain wording like this:
“This certificate has been issued under a flexible scope process for accreditation and may be withdrawn in the unlikely event that UKAS determine that SSAIB should not have granted certification. For further information refer to https://ssaib.org/page/flexible-scope/
If you have received notice that your audit is being conducted under the flexible scope process this section explains this in more detail for each affected standard.
Your auditor should be able to explain any other questions at the time of the audit or please contact SSAIB directly.
More information about flexible scopes can be found in the UKAS GEN 4 document available from: https://www.ukas.com/resources/publications/all-organisations/
If you have specific questions, please contact the SSAIB’s compliance manager.