Accredia / Certifications / Risk management and conformity assessment in scenarios of change and crisis

Risk management and conformity assessment in scenarios of change and crisis

15 June 2023

In highly complex scenarios, how do you evaluate the ability of organizations to continue meeting requirements? As Nicola Gigante explains, crises are now part of the context and lead us to rethink and adapt the assessment activity.

The attention for the system of accredited conformity assessments (certifications, inspections, verifications and validations, tests, calibrations, etc.) is constantly growing, at a national, European and global level. At the basis of this increase, there is also the evident potential for simplification and reliability that the system guarantees to operators.

Even more, in a context increasingly dominated by changes and crises, in which organizations are called to promptly adapt their management systems, using organizational intelligence. The assessor of Accredia Nicola Gigante explains it in his article “Risk Management, Conformity Assessment, and Evalutation of Organizational Intelligence in Scenarios of Change and Crisis” for The International Journal of Conformity Assessment.


Organization intelligence

Organizations are complex adaptive systems that, especially when they operate in contexts characterized by the unpredictability of scenarios, must adjust their management systems with creativity, to be intended as an aptitude for original solutions according to the unifying concept of organizational intelligence.

In this regard, Risk-based Thinking and the adoption of tools to maximize the rationality of decisions become central to regulating organizational reactions in unforeseen events and crises. An organization must be able to respond coherently to the evolution and changes of the context, showing diligence in applying the rules that govern the predictable and stable components of the processes, attention to the scenario, ability to adapt its line of action promptly and effectively. In other words, activating a transformation capable of applying drastic and immediate changes when new, unpredictable and sometimes traumatic circumstances arise in the corporate environment.


Risk-based Thinking

Given the changeable nature of scenarios, the latest generation standards, including those for the accreditation of conformity assessment bodies, require organizations to contextualize their management system and to define the rules of organizational behavior.

Basically, there is less rigidity of requirements and greater freedom on the part of organizations in designing and establishing their own management system. A greater freedom which, however, must also be supported by a broader managerial competence and by a more evolved responsibility of the organizations in guaranteeing the effectiveness of the self-regulation process.

All this implies a cultural transformation that the definition of Risk-based Thinking used by ISO 9001:2015 also includes in the ISO 17000 series standards. A transformation that focuses not only on improving the management system aimed at the result, but also on making explicit the logical process that generated that result, to allow an even more effective assessment of accredited compliance.

Especially regarding larger and more complex organizations, the implementation of Risk-based Thinking involves the definition of specific methods, tools and skills. The main regulatory reference for systematically addressing risk management is found in the standards developed by the ISO/TC 262 Technical Committee, in particular:

  • ISO 31000 “Risk management – Guidelines”
  • IEC 31010 “Risk management – Risk assessment techniques”
  • ISO 31050 “Guidance for managing emerging risks to enhance resilience” currently under development.


Evaluative intelligence

In addition to the ability to apply requirements and continuously improve, depending on changes in the context and in the framework of expectations, the organization should demonstrate its ability to innovate and transform itself according to the unexpected. In other words, the accredited conformity assessment must take into account these skills, i.e. knowing how to evaluate organizational intelligence.

A certainly difficult task to carry out, which requires the assessor to have a growing ability to understand and critically examine the behavior of organizations also in the actions implemented to react effectively to any unexpected event of an economic, health, geopolitical, climatic, energy, etc. type.

To identify the components of this uncertainty, as for any measurement process, it is necessary to identify the right countermeasures: the assessment process must therefore be based on the development of an evaluative intelligence. Intended, among other things, as the ability of the assessors to use their logical-deductive skills to understand the complexity of the organization and its context. As well as to analyze the decision-making, strategic and operational processes associated with them.

For this task, the need for ever greater performance by the assessment team requires the more frequent and wider involvement of specialists and interested parties, in order to guarantee an interdisciplinary, dynamic and inclusive approach to the entire accredited conformity assessment program.