Should I expect I non-conformances at my certification audits?

An essential step in undertaking ISO 9001, ISO 14001, Safety AS/NZS 4801 or ISO 18001 certification audits is to undertake your Stage One and Stage Two audits. This can be a daunting if your business has minimal experience ISO certification or AS/NZS certification audits.


During these assessments our skilled and helpful auditors will measure your current systems against the requirements of the required standard. A common part of these audits is receiving non-conformances. The term non-conformances may sound negative and intimidating but the golden rule here is – yes, you should expect to receive some non-conformances and here is why this isn’t the end of your certification journey.


It’s a very normal part of in seeking ISO 9001, ISO 14001, Safety AS/NZS 4801 or ISO 18001 certification to find issues or non-conformances with your existing business systems during your certification audits.


From experience our auditors have wondered that if we don’t find non-conformances it generally means one of four things,


  • The client is hiding things from the auditor so that we don’t find issues. A large part of the certification audit process is seeing how your business runs day-to-day and it’s important that we see work that is an indicative sample of what your business does. It’s very normal for any business to have a non-conformances present in their certification audits and clients need not be afraid to show us these issues – we are here to help and provide constructive and critical feedback on how to become compliant to your required standard.


  • The client is pressuring the auditor not to come up with negative findings. Addressing non-conformances is a key aspect of improving your business systems which will overall improve your business operations and make achieving your targets and goals more attainable.


  • The client is overspending on developing their systems. Investing in developing robust and appropriate systems isn’t a bad idea however it is very easy to go above and beyond what is required for certification purposes. Consultant services can be useful for an organisation – if your consultant is a good fit for your organisation and dedicated to helping you improve your business. But this does add an extra cost to certification and there is no 100% guarantee that the systems will be compliant as a result. This is something each business needs to weight the potential benefit against the potential cost regarding seeking consultant services.


  • Utopia has been discovered – the client is perfect in each and every way. Please note this is yet to happen and our auditors will be thrilled upon discovering the perfect client and systems.


The key thing to take away here is that the ISO certification or AS/NZS certification process is part of continual improvement. It’s normal in our business (yes we have audits and accreditation to maintain too) when we get audited for issues to arise and it is perfectly normal for these issues to arise in your business. Focus on looking at these findings as opportunities for improvement.