a certification scheme is a set of: 

  • a requirement standard setting the criteria to be met (either for management system or competence)
  • a so called protocol setting the rules for certification bodies to operate the certification, in particular in terms of:

           - auditor / examiner competence & experience

           - audit / exam plan, procedures & duration

           - report format & content

           - certificate granting & maintenance

           - certificate content & duration

           - accreditation rules & conditions

A standard alone misses the protocol (i.e. the rules for CBs to operate), with following consequences:

  • CBs develop their own approach & methods
  • CBs fully use their free space to operate
  • Accreditation doesn’t know against what to harmonise
  • Consistency of implementation is lacking
  • Certificates are not comparable between CBs
  • Scheme reliability and acceptance is lacking
  • Standard owner has no control on implementation

A scheme owner has to face and control following challenges:

  • All CBs operate according to the same rules & procedures
  • All auditors / examiners are trained & competent
  • All organisations / candidates are assessed with the same methods & rigor
  • All audits / exams meet the applicable duration
  • All reports are complete and consistent
  • All data are available for analysis & performance monitoring
  • All certificates are subject to surveillance for validity
  • All beneficiaries are confident in certificate consistency

The scheme implementation integrity is about consistency & reliability, and can be controlled by (according to PDCA cycle):


  • Solid protocol associated to the standard
  • Harmonised dematerialised report format (on a database)


  • Auditor/examiner training , competence exam & calibration
  • Automatic checks & alerts of the database for consistency


  • Review & audit of CBs’ processes (office audit, desk review)
  • Data availability & analysis for performance monitoring


  • Transparency & sanctions related to KPIs & indicators

An integrity program (IP) has the following objectives for all Certification Schemes

  • ensure and demonstrate the quality of the auditor/examiner, audit/exam and CB
  • generate confidence of certification users and market in the certification (integrity),
  • ensure that certified organisations/persons are subject to consistent and reproducible audits/exams,
  • monitor & improve the CB & auditor/examiner performance through KPIs, reviews & audits
  • provide incentives and inputs to CBs to manage their own quality program.

The general IP features according to PDCA (see previous question of this FAQ) shall be transposed in each specific scheme operated.

SaaS (Software as a Service) is to commercialize software without installing it on an internal server or a workstation in the company, but as an application accessed remotely as a service through Internet. 

The main characteristics of Software as a Service are: 

  • The user accesses the application (software) via the Internet. 
  • The cost depends on the effective consumption of the service (software). 
  • The supplier of the application (software) is responsible for maintenance and availability.
  • The users’ community benefits from  the evolutions  brought for other users.