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Understanding External Audit Length

Lots of our clients have wondered why their external audit is scheduled for two, three or more days. Actually, audit times are a matter of international concern! The International Accreditation Forum, founded in the late 1980s, developed “a single worldwide program of conformity assessment” by setting standards for audit planning and management. PQA, like other certification bodies, follows those guidelines for calculating audit times, from two IAF documents: MD5 (for 9001, 14001, and 45001) and MD9 (for 13485).

Audit times are based on formulas that include factors like the number of employees in the organization; number of locations; physical size of the environment; the number, risk, and complexity of the processes involved; and any translation needs. Under those guidelines, Homer Simpson’s nuclear plant for example, would require much more audit time than a 3-person machine shop or a distribution company.

When we receive your Application for Certification, we look at all those factors to determine audit time, and thus your quotation. As your scope, complexity, or employee count change over the years, that affects the time required for your audit and we re-calculate accordingly.


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