Results of Assessments

  • Results of Assessments

A fundamental question at the end of each assessment year is always whether the Recognised Organisation’s (RO’s) Quality Management System has been adequately tested. QACE’s assessment is that, while the situation must continue to be monitored, the auditing standards are now at a high and consistent standard, a statement that is supported by the other observers of the scheme.

QACE would bring to the attention of its interested parties the following points:

While the ROs continue to demonstrate the very highest levels of competence and professionalism, the downturn in the marine industry business has affected the RO’s with significantly reduced workloads. A number have realigned their services and reduced staffing levels. At the same time, many marine organisations are carrying out similar exercises which may include reducing their technical capability. As a result, the industry can become increasing dependent on the RO’s services. Cost cutting can put pressure on the necessary surveyor support systems and affect areas such as training. The RO’s cost cutting has been passed on to QACE with some pressure put on what is already a conservative budget.

While QACE has not identified specific issues with any of the RO’s the situation is monitored as part of the assessment and questions are raised during the biennial Individual Recommendations meetings.

A final point on the issue is the need for the RO’s to include in their risk mitigation, the necessary flexibility and planning to react quickly, when the market emerges from recession, to have adequate resources in place when new projects are generated and workloads return to previous levels.

Keeping up with the ever-increasing flow of new requirements that must be implemented into the RO’s Rules and instructions is another major influence, that affects the ability of surveyors to get it right first time. QACE Collective Recommendation 4 draws attention to the issue and increasing the effectiveness of how the process is audited.

QACE has these issues at the forefront of its consideration of the assessment of the RO’s management systems.

What is being done with all the information?

In some more detail, when a summary of the assessments is prepared, several points are extracted that are relevant as potential recommendations for improvement to the RO or, as part of a trend across the ROs, as a potential Collective Recommendation (CR), or best practice. Trending items may also be relevant for potential issues to be raised in relation to the QSCS standard. Issues can also relate to opportunities for improvement to be raised with the audit bodies during the annual End-User Workshops.

Collective Recommendations 2017

  • Results of Assessments

1/ Audit of remote locations and surveyors

Areas of the world which are distant from the RO’s control, where high volumes of surveys and audits are not held, do not have the same level of experience with complex surveys. Local restricted service or national trade vessels may not be subject to the most stringent level of control. QACE recommends a focus on the work held by these offices and remote surveyors. QACE recommends an audit of representative offices and, where inclusion in the audit plan may not be practical, remote review of office and surveyors jobs and local vessel survey control information.

2/ Exclusion of early stages of surveys from Vertical Contract Audits

While the difficulties of organising the audits during ships in operation surveys are well known, the intention of Vertical Contract Audits is to witness the survey of substantial requirements. To that end QACE will specify a requirement that survey planning kick-off meetings are not an appropriate subject for VCA. For the same reason QACE will also specify that New Construction VCAs are to be held where plan approval is complete and where the ship is at erection stage and that audit of block inspection is not an appropriate subject for VCA. The QACE requirements will be published in June 2017, effective 1st January 2018.

3/ Closed loop Audit Focus Area reporting 

Audit focus areas, have been identified from finding trends and concerns from industry partners. Where necessary the auditor team have been trained in the issue and are required to include the points during appropriate audits. To date the results of the audits in relation to the focus areas have not been collected and analysed to identify effective measures, or the results reported back to the interested parties. QACE would like to explore possible methods to achieve this during the annual End-User Workshop.

4/ Extension of process auditing to Rule development 

QACE considers Rule Development as a critical process in ensuring new external and internal requirements are effectively implemented into the RO’s Rules and instructions in advance of the mandatory implementation date. Typically audited in the Rule Development of the RO’s Head Offices. QACE sees some scope in ACB’s considering the end-to-end process from the identification of requirements (external affairs), control within the Rule development plan, the technical appraisal, Rule inclusion, publication, training, advice to surveyors, updates to systems and controls. Important in the process is how the RO verifies the effectiveness of the process and individual Rule inclusions.