Procedure for Remote Assessments

PUBLIC PROCEDURE CRED-PR-520 Issued: 2023-3-30, Revision: 1

References CRED-PR-033: Competence Procedure - Assessors
APAC-MRA-007, Performing Remote Evaluations - Requirements and Guidance
IAF MD 4:2018 IAF Mandatory Document for the Use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Auditing/Assessment Purposes
ISO/IEC 17011:2017, Conformity assessment - General requirements for accreditation bodies accrediting conformity assessment bodies
1.1This procedure explains how the ANAB Credentialing Strategic Business Unit (CRED SBU) conducts remote assessments.
1.2The objective of a remote assessment is to establish the level of confidence in the Conformity Assessment Body (CAB) activities by direct observations carried out through an electronic medium. As Information and Communication Technology (ICT) becomes more advanced and sophisticated, it is important to leverage the ICT to augment the effectiveness and efficiency of the assessment activity, while ensuring the integrity of and confidence in the conformity assessment process. Remote assessments provide the opportunity for increased efficiency, increased safety, better timing, inclusion of CAB personnel that may not be easily accessible, and avoidance of travel delays and restrictions.
2.1CRED CAB - A Conformity Assessment Body (CAB) operating under one of the three credentialing programs: ISO/IEC 17024, ANAB-CFP, ASTM E2659, or ASTM D8403.
2.2CRED STAFF - Personnel employed by ANAB to administer the credentialing accreditation program.
2.3ASSESSOR - Person who performs, alone or as part of an assessment team, assessments of CABs on behalf of ANAB.
2.4KEY LOCATION - Location where majority of the business operations of the CRED CAB take place.
2.5WITNESSING - Observation by CRED STAFF and/or assessors of key operations of a CRED CAB including but not limited to performance exams, training sessions, and other activities relating directly to the scope of accreditation.
2.6REMOTE ASSESSMENT - Assessment of the physical location or virtual site of a CAB, using electronic means [Source: ISO/IEC 17011:2017]. Note: Remote Assessment may include a combination of the following assessment techniques:
a) File/records review. b) Documents review. c) Review of performance in proficiency testing and other inter-laboratory comparisons. d) Review of existing quality control. e) Interviewing. f) Remote witnessing.
2.7INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY (ICT) - Use of technology for gathering, storing, retrieving, processing, analysing, and transmitting information. It includes software and hardware such as smartphones, handheld devices, laptop computers, desktop computers, drones, video cameras, wearable technology, artificial intelligence, and others [Source APAC-MRA-007].
Note: Examples of the use of ICT during assessments may include but are not limited to: a) Meetings; by means of teleconference facilities, including audio, video and data sharing b) Assessment of documents and records by means of remote access, either synchronously (in real time) or asynchronously (when applicable) c) Providing visual/audio access to remote or potentially hazardous locations
2.8VIRTUAL SITE - Virtual location where a client organization performs work or provides a service using an on-line environment allowing persons irrespective of physical locations to execute processes [Source: IAF MD 4:2018].
3Criteria for Conducting Remote Assessments
3.1Remote assessments for CRED CABs may be considered for use when:
a) Travel to a CRED CAB or specific location is not reasonable/feasible due to local or national restrictions. b) When visit to a CRED CAB or assessment location is not possible during crisis or directions from government and regulators based on security, health and safety measures. c) There are unavoidable changes in scheduling for the assessor or the CRED CAB (i.e., personal issues, change in business priorities, etc.). d) All major business activities of a CRED CAB are conducted remotely. e) The CRED CAB has a proven track record of conformance at the location of the remote assessment. f) The risk level of the assessment is of low concern to the CRED SBU. g) An activity or activities planned for the onsite assessment could not be completed and extending the onsite assessment is not the best resolution. h) The situation requires the assessment team to come back for a follow up assessment, but another visit is not easily achievable within a short time frame. i) The CRED SBU has an assessor (or team of assessors) already familiar with the management system and its practices and who have visited the CRED CAB's key location(s).
3.2Remote assessments may be less favorable for CRED CABs in the following scenarios:
a) During the initial assessment activity of a new CRED CAB facility, scope, or significant change. b) When no onsite assessment has taken place for an extended period of time. c) If a translator is required to facilitate effective communication between the assessor(s) and the CRED CAB representative. d)When there is inadequate ICT infrastructure to facilitate the remote assessment.
4Planning and Scheduling
4.1CRED Staff in conjunction with the assessment team shall determine whether the CRED CAB is a viable candidate for remote assessment based on the criteria in 3.1 and 3.2. The Program Director reserves the right to make the final decision on the appropriateness of a remote assessment.
4.2If a remote assessment is deemed appropriate and/or necessary, the assessment team will proceed with scheduling the assessment. The Lead Assessor will determine the best time zone among all parties involved in the assessment activity and the timeframe for conducting the remote assessment (i.e. 4hr/day for 3 days).
4.3Prior to the remote assessment, the Lead Assessor will provide an agenda to the CRED CAB which will outline:
a) Dates and time b) Opening meeting and introductions c) Purpose of the Assessment/Review of scope of assessment d) Functions and responsibilities of the assessment team e) Method and procedures used to conduct the assessment f) Review of the schedule and explanation of any specific requirements and confirmation of working times g) Extent of assessment h) Confirmation of resources and facilities needed by assessment team and identification of at least one company representative to specifically work with the assessors i) Confirm arrangements for final meeting and any interim meetings j) Confidentiality k) Clarify unclear details of the assessment plan or areas of concern based on paper review l) Appeals procedure m) Questions n) Closing meeting
4.4Prior the remote assessment the Lead Assessor will also work with the CRED CAB to determine the appropriate ICT. Potential platforms include: Go-To-Meeting, WebEx, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, etc. Considerations for selecting the proper ICT include but are not limited to:
a) All parties have appropriate hardware for hosting the remote assessment. b) The platform is secure and has controlled access to the meeting. c) All parties who need to join the meeting are able to (i.e. the platform does not have participant limitations). d) The platform does not have any time restrictions that would limit the ability to carry out the full assessment. e) All parties feel comfortable with the selected ICT. Note: Multiple types of ICT can be considered if necessary.
4.5The assessment team should plan to use a variety of assessment techniques (see Annex A) not just interviews during the remote assessment.
5Conducting Remote Assessments
5.1All parties involved in the remote assessment should participate from quiet and secure environments whenever possible to avoid interference and background noise (i.e., speakerphones) and ensure information security.
5.2All parties involved need to take appropriate measures to safeguard confidentially of data in any format. If there is concern by any parties about the confidentiality of the assessments they should contact the Program Director or Program Manager in a timely manner.
5.3The assessment should follow the agenda and any changes should be recorded by the assessment team.
5.4All remote assessments should begin with introductions of all attendees. The Lead Assessor should monitor attendance and make note of any additional CRED CAB staff joining.
5.5All remote assessments should be concluded with a summary, review of the assessmenbt events, issues of concern, clarification of issues, nonconformities, and expectations.
5.6To monitor assessor performance in accordance to CRED-PR-033, CRED Staff are permitted to be observers in the remote assessments.
6.1Witnessing provides real-time and interactive assessment of key conformity assessment activities and reduces risks to integrity that may be associated with pre-recorded video. The Lead Assessor should consult with appropriate CRED Staff to schedule witnessing.
6.2The assessment team and CRED CAB should preplan and test the ICT for the witness. The ICT should enable the assessment team to witness the given activity with minimal distractions, clear audio connection, and appropriate visual frame.
6.3Assessors should be able to act as the director during the video witnessing and should be able to direct the CRED CAB to provide a suitable video of the witnessed activity and assure effectiveness of the demonstration.
6.4If the conditions for the ICT are not suitable, the assessment team can perform another witness or alternatives should be considered with the Program Director.
7Post Remote Assessment
7.1The final assessment reports and related records should indicate the extent to which ICT has been used in carrying out assessment and the effectiveness of ICT in achieving the assessment objectives.
7.2Assessment findings (nonconformities, corrective actions, opportunities for improvement, etc.) should be drafted by assessment team members and provided to the CRED CAB in writing in a timely manner for review and acknowledgement. All applicable CRED and program-specific procedures shall be followed by the assessors.
7.3The closure of remote assessment nonconformities, review of assessment deliverables and accreditation decision making process (granting, renewal, extension, suspension, reducing, withdrawal) shall follow the same processes that are utilized for onsite assessments.
7.4Standard fees and the assessor daily rate applies. CRED CAB must pay them according to CRED fee procedures.
AAnnex A: Assessment Techniques
Technique Purpose
Paper ReviewThis provides an overview of the CRED CAB's operations. It is a basic planning tool to further review areas of concern.
Checking RecordsThis demonstrates historical compliance: It does not address the current situation. Records generated automatically by secure systems increases the confidence level.
Checking ContractsThis demonstrates historical and current compliance of the CRED CAB's process. Clarifies relationships and responsibilities.
Office AssessmentThis demonstrates current practices. The size of the sample drawn must be related to the process. This involves observation, review and use of documents and interviews.
InterviewsThis demonstrates the involvement of CRED CAB staff in special process, which cannot be easily assessed (e.g. strategic planning).
Witness AssessmentThis demonstrates that the procedures of the CRED CAB are being implemented in the field. It provides evidence that the assessment has been done in a competent fashion, that adequate time is being spent on the assessment and that the correct team disciplines have been deployed.