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Multisite Certification by EAGLE Certification Group

Multisite Certification by EAGLE Certification Group

Multisite certification gets more and more important with merging and globalizing companies, as stated by Chris Miller, Chief Technology Officer and Colin Christmas, Manager Director of EAGLE Certification Group. I had a chat with them through Teams in December 2020.

EAGLE Certification Group

EAGLE wants to create value for their clients through the auditing process. They aim to be the leader in the business by adding value to companies through auditing.

EAGLE’s philosophy is to share their knowledge across the industries they serve and tend to be open on best practices.

Integrated Management Systems (IMS) and Multisite Certification

Colin and Chris stated that IMS and multisite certification will get more important and grow in popularity over the next 10-20 years. Certifiers who do not offer this service will lose business. When certifiers offer IMS and multisite certification, they need to have good branding and good expertise, which includes both auditors and supporting technical staff. They need to hire the right auditors and calibrate them to be able to do integrated audits. EAGLE is on track regarding these requirements and has many clients who have IMS and multisite certification.

In the food sector, many brand manufacturers have adopted multisite IMS in recent years and this has a typical trickle-down effect on the rest of the supply chain as they learn from the bigger companies. They all look for the most effective model. Historically, the big brand manufacturers and retailers have asked their suppliers for accredited food safety certification. They also focus on social responsibility, people safety, environmental impacts, information security (including data privacy) and anti-bribery. This is important to mitigate risk from their supply chain programs. Not only is industry asking for these certifications, but EAGLE also see this with regulators. In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends ISO 14001 Environmental Management System and the Department of Labor references ISO 45001 Occupational Health & Safety. In addition, organizations like Global Innovation Index (GII) have ISO 9001 Quality Management System as a key performance metric, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) reference ISO 45001 and Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) reference the ISO 14000 family of standards. Forethinking organizations will expect that implementing these management systems, at some point, will be necessary to do business.

Typically, companies begin with single site certification for ISO 9001 as their foundation. Gradually, management standards could be added to create an IMS. When a company implements different management systems to handle other requirements in addition to quality, there will be redundancy, extra cost and complexity. Therefore, it makes sense to look for integration. When these companies start to expand with having more sites and maybe acquisitions, they typically evolve with multisite certification. This reduces auditors and the time to host, while paying for it. With non-integrated systems and single site certification, companies have to bear the high cost, starting with each standard and site from ground zero, with all the quotations, the audit process and the certification process. EAGLE provides the opportunity to reduce redundancy on a system level.

Internal harmonization between the EAGLE auditors on multisite certification is a consideration. Lead auditors for multisite certification with IMS need to be qualified for the relevant standards. The common elements of a management system should typically be audited by the lead auditor and the unique requirements of the specific standards are audited by members of the audit team. The lead auditor must have an understanding of the organization and the sampling model and must make a risk-based decision on which sites to be audited for a multisite organization. Generally, EAGLE calibrates all their auditors in what they describe as ‘The EAGLE Way’, at least once a year.

According to the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), MD1, IAF Mandatory Document for the Audit and Certification of a Management System Operated by a Multi-Site Organization, sampling of a set of sites to be audited is permitted when these sites are each performing very similar processes/activities. This “very similar” is of course, rather subjective. This is one of the examples where harmonization is needed. EAGLE samples their clients’ sites at a high rate to get value out of the audits. It is important the sampling frequency is correct, especially when companies are growing. EAGLE groups sites on the similarity of their activities and samples in these groups. Arguments are fully documented on how this grouping and sampling are based.

Certifiers could of course compete on this sampling, depending on how strict they sample. The more stricter, the more expensive. This could be a challenge as EAGLE’s philosophy is based on service, integrity and value. They do not compromise on audit duration when their experience indicates a necessary level of sampling for a client. In this respect, the scope of certification could influence the similarity of the processes/activities. One could argue that a more generic scope makes activities/processes easier, more similar.


Colin and Chris agreed with me that with future predicted growth for multisite certification, IAF MD1 has further opportunities for harmonization, sharing of experiences, discussion and guidance. Clearly, the different national accreditations, like in the US, ANAB plays an important role in this. An example of an issue that is not so clear is if the local sites in multisite certification should do their own management reviews, next to the centralized one. We see that auditors at other certifiers do not assess this in the same way. According to EAGLE, local sites must review their own processes. If not, this could lead to a non-conformity.

Harmonization is key. The IAF helps to harmonize using MD1 for accreditation bodies. These accreditation bodies then harmonize using this document with their certification bodies.

Challenges and recommendations

The challenge for EAGLE is to identify and hire the right auditors, understanding their philosophy of adding value to the customer.

Clearly, for multisite certification and integrated management systems, a common framework and processes need to be in place. The key here is strong corporate leadership that drives this at their sites. Recommendations to organizations aiming for multisite certification and integrated management systems would be to prepare themselves based on the requirements of IAF MD1 and review the guidance provided by ISO on integrated management systems. Recently acquired companies need to be integrated first before adding them to the scope of multisite certifications, and this takes time. EAGLE’s strategy is to focus on providing auditing services. With this is mind, they offer limited training to their clients who they do not audit, and do not provide consultancy. Companies could contact MD1.Support to prepare themselves for the audits of their multisite certification, nowadays this could easily be done remotely.

Bas Logister

See further our homepage on MD1.Support!


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It's a very good initiative that MD1.Support can help organizations in multisite certification!

Dirk Regenboog from Bureau Veritas Certification Netherlands
Dirk Regenboog from Bureau Veritas Certification Netherlands

MD1.Support helped us a lot how we could benefit from multisite certification

Jack Reinders from Bronkhorst
Jack Reinders from Bronkhorst

Bas Logister of MD1.Support helped us in the understanding of the requirements and the calculation of multisite certification,

Ronald Velsink from Unica
Ronald Velsink from Unica

Bas Logister of MD1.Support helped us in our negotiations with the certifier

Henk Kerkdijk from Teijin Aramid
Henk Kerkdijk from Teijin Aramid