BMTA Newsletter BMTA Newsletter - Summer 2020 | Page 14

. THE FUTURE OF ASSESSMENT Jeff Ruddle Strategic Development Director UKAS The Move to Remote Assessment The COVID-19 Pandemic has resulted in Accreditation Bodies (ABs) needing to quickly adapt from their normal business models of onsite assessment to remote assessments. Traditionally most ABs have conducted some level of remote assessment with most conducting pre-assessment document reviews and processing extensions to scope by desktop review. However, following the revision of ISO/IEC 17011 in 2017 which opened up the potential for greater remote assessment, many ABs, including UKAS, have been investigating how best to use remote assessment. The move to remote assessment had ben gradual for most ABs, but the realities of the travel restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic mean that most ABs have had to rapidly adopt a remote assessment approach. Image How Remote Assessments are Conducted Although the format and timeframe of remote assessments will feel different to customers, the structure, processes and fundamental nature of accreditation assessments remains the same. Meetings will be arranged, evidence requested, documentation reviewed, activities witnessed, specific issues discussed, any non-conformities highlighted (and hopefully closed) and a report/recommendation made. As the process relies heavily on IT solutions, customers are advised to check access to and understanding of web-conferencing systems and that their internet/WiFi/4G connections are robust enough to conduct live meetings and information exchanges. At the outset of the remote assessment process, UKAS agrees a timetable with customers and provides them with a list of documentation and records required. This is needed in advance of the due assessment date and can be provided by a wide range of file common sharing services (such as Dropbox) as well as e-mail. The confirmation of ongoing technical competence is the ultimate aim of accreditation, and UKAS is pragmatic about how technical activities can be witnessed during remote assessments. A live stream is the ideal option, but a narrated video recording could be an appropriate alternative. Where none of these are possible, then either a vertical audit of previous work or technical interviews of authorised staff could be undertaken. When none of these options are available then the witnessing element will need to be conducted at a time when UKAS is able to conduct an on-site assessment. Once collated, the evidence will be reviewed remotely by UKAS and discussed with the customer’s relevant technical and quality staff during pre-arranged Q&A sessions. UKAS’s preferred platform is Microsoft Teams, but other web-conferencing solutions can be used where these are accessible by UKAS. Although this approach can fragment the assessment process, the overall time and resources devoted by UKAS and customers should remain similar. Some customers have indeed found the staggered approach of remote assessments is less intrusive and allows them to carry on with their day to day work while UKAS remotely reviews documents and records.