Frequently Asked Questions
You will find the answers to most of your initial questions here......
Why MSS Global?
Credibility MSS Global are sector leaders for ethical assurance of companies operating in the more challenging and demanding areas of the world; our practice includes specialism in the private security industry globally. Internationally accredited (UKAS – IAF MLA), we are widely regarded as trusted experts, sitting on a number of international standards committees, including several sponsored by the US and UK government (ISO 18788, PSC-1 and ISO 28007). We are founding Observer members of the ICoCA and regularly contribute to the education and governance learning; our aim includes helping companies (including PSCs) to better understand the ethical and wider demands expected of them as they prepare and go through assurance certification.
Range of clients Our clients range from global multi-national private security companies, through to very small (c2-4 people) local companies – and everything in between. We support clients on every continent of the globe (except Antarctica!). And their services range from unarmed and armed static and mobile manned guarding, through to niche, high end security and intelligence support services, through to clients who are themselves contracting private security services – and everything in between.
International Accreditation Be careful before you spend money. If you are not sure if your certification will be accepted by large international clients, governments, or the ICoCA as part of their membership, then you need to do some due diligence on your Certification Body – they need to be accredited for the specific standard by an accreditation body who is a member of the International Accreditation Forum Multilateral Recognition Arrangement (IAF MLA); you can find a simple 3 step due diligence checklist here.
What help can MSS Global offer me to prepare?
We cannot act as consultants (i.e. we cannot provide client specific solutions as that would compromise our impartiality when we undertake the 3rd party assurance audit and certification). We can however provide you with:
- Education support and guidance to help you understand the standards and give you insight in to general best practice approaches that support your development and understanding. This includes:
- An online and/or onsite gap analysis tool that helps you understand where you are now, and what you need to do in order to prepare for an assessment;
- And online education resources (videos and downloadable examples) that can help provide you the education and understanding of key fundamental aspects.
Have a look at our Routes to Certification brochure here, and then get in touch with Dai Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org for more.
How long does it take to get certified?
3 key factors effect on how long certification will take you:
- How prepared you are before our certification audit. ISO 18788 has over 560 individual and sub requirements in it. You need to be happy you understand those and how you meet them before any formal audit – otherwise you risk wasting your time and money if you’re not prepared. In our experience your preparation time and effort is by far the biggest investment. So, our question is “how long do you think it will take you to prepare?” (See above for the types of support we can offer to help you reduce that time).
- Your size, the range of services you provide to your clients, the range of countries and regions you operate in that you wish to include in any certification, and the different types of client you support. This informs your ‘scope of certification’ – i.e. what is written on any certificate that you then present to your clients to give them assurance of your capabilities.
- Audit duration calculations using International Accreditation Forum Mandatory Documents (including IAF MD 1, 5, and 11), and sector guidance (PSC-2 and ISO 28003), and UKAS guidance to identify the number of audit days we will need to undertake the formal audit. Those days are then split in to Stage 1 of the audit (a head office review of Policy, Process and Procedures which govern the implementation of the standard from the top to bottom of the entity within the “scope.”), and Stage 2 (evidence collection that those PPP are actually being implemented across the organization in a coherent manner (proof)). There is normally a space of between 4 and 12 weeks between Stage 1 and 2 to allow a company to address any findings in the first stage (which is normal – so don’t worry). The formal audit should be regarded as a journey and is complete after Stage 2.
How much does it cost to get certified?
The vast majority of ‘cost’ for certification is internal investment of your management time and effort in preparation before any formal audit by MSS Global – i.e. the time for your team to prepare your management system for audit. Our costs are simply related to the number of audit days required to complete the verification audit task, and getting the audit team to and back from you. We will provide you with a full written estimate upon request, just email Dai Phillips email@example.com and ask for further details.
How long does my certification last?
Your certification lasts for up to 3 years as long as you continue to provide assurance through periodic surveillance assessments across your scope; these need to occur at least every 12 months, although that may be split in to several smaller surveillances during the year depending upon your specific operating context.
How do I start, and how do I go about getting certification to ISO 18788 or PSC-1?
- Download our Overview of Services brochure here.
- Download a copy of that standard(s) you are looking at getting certified against. You can purchase copies ISO 18788 here, and ISO 9001 here, and download a free copy of PSC-1 here.
- And then simply get in touch with Dai Phillips (firstname.lastname@example.org) – he is there to support your understanding.
- He will provide you with a form that helps us get to know you;
- Once you’ve completed and returned the form, we can provide you with a written estimate and our standard terms and conditions.
- Once you’ve signed the contract, we will provide you with a:
- Formal letter of engagement that you can use for business development while we work together towards your certification.
- Change analysis that shows you the key differences between ISO 18788 and PSC-1.
- List of free online resources that we’ve identified across the internet that may help you prepare your team.
- List of MSS Global online education and support preparation resources that you can purchase as additional.
- If you’ve purchased the online gap analysis service, we will then register you so that you can start your own assessment.
- Our Operations Manager, Keith Stanton, will introduce you to your lead auditor, and they will then walk you through the whole certification process – simply Stage 1 assessment (normally at your head office), and Stage 2 (head office and out to your points of service delivery).
What do you need to see to certify us (what scope will be certified)?
We will want to be able to gain access and confirm that you meet the requirements across the span of your certified operation. This means that we will sample both at your head office, and regional/local programs and projects; this normally includes talking to a sample of your clients. The aim being to confirm to your client through our certification, that you meet the requirements of the standards – all of which is recorded on the certificate we give you as proof at the end of Stage 2 once we’ve gained that evidence.
Does the CEO need to be involved?
Yes, leadership – including top management, the Board of Directors, C-suite, CEO, and/or business owner - ie whoever is ultimately in charge need to be stewards of the process – it is them who have overall responsibility for how the company runs. They can delegate the task(s) to staff but they must remain in control and accountable. Consider the senior management putting together a plan, resourcing it and then remaining engaged to ensure it progresses as they want.
We do not speak English as a first language; can you support my company?
Yes is the simple answer. We currently have amongst our team 7 languages spoken: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Arabic and Urdu. We are also in the process of developing an East Asia capability. In addition, under the IAF multi-lateral recognition structure, there are a number of avenues open to us, from the simplest being to use interpreters, through to forming local joint relationships with IAF MLA accredited Certification Bodies in your country/region. Please get in touch with Dai Phillips (email@example.com) for more information.
What is the difference between ISO 9001, PSC-1 and ISO 18788?
For a private security company delivering a quality service to its clients, MSS Global have undertaken a unique and substantial piece of work so that we can offer 3 certificates for the price of 1; we audit you to ISO 18788, and will provide certification to PSC-1 and ISO 9001 for that same scope for free. Think of them as the ‘Russian doll’ model. If you conform to ISO 18788 for that scope, then with our mapping back, we are content you will be meeting the demands of PSC-1 and ISO 9001. MSS Global auditors use our ‘map’ to support that assessment and it costs you no more money for those other certifications. When you go to contract with us, we will provide you with a change analysis that shows you the specific differences between PSC-1 and ISO 18788.