In her two most recent entries Joanne wrote about what certifiers are looking for from diverse businesses in terms of control and governance. All certifiers are looking for the diverse business owner(s) to own at least 51% of company and there must not be any limitations that would affect their ability to manage the company’s day-to-day operations (or oversee those who do) or negate any decisions made about the company’s future.
Don’t be intimidated by or worry about a site visit. We’ve been visited a lot … 14 certifications worth! The visits have been about confirming information and they give the certifying organization an opportunity to explore and understand the business first hand.
From a certifier’s perspective, the purpose of the site visit is twofold. First, the site visitor comes to verify the accuracy of the information you provided and to clarify any outstanding issues they might have found when the application was reviewed. Often times missing documents will be requested prior to visiting, however, some certifiers will collect them or ask for additional paperwork during the site visit. We have compiled a list of standard attachments that you can review. During this verification process you might be asked to answer questions about your company’s history and ownership including details about the diverse owner’s knowledge, financial contributions and supervisory control, or for details about your customers or projects. Just this week, a site visitor asked Joanne about her programming background and requested another copy of our 2009 financial statements.
The other purpose of the site visit is to ensure that the diverse owner’s control in a business goes beyond the paperwork provided. The owner must show that s/he has the knowledge and means to run the business without the assistance of any non-diverse owners.
With that in mind, a certifier will come to business – even if it is a home-based business – to meet with diverse owner(s) and tour the facility. If your company is in the manufacturing industry this might include a tour of production line, as well as, the office space. If you stock any inventory or own any equipment that is necessary to conduct your business, the site visitor might ask to view the space where the inventory or equipment is warehoused, if on the premise.
Our most recent site visit lasted about an hour. Paperwork was reviewed and there was a discussion about the company’s future plans and how we expect to use that particular certification to further our objectives.
If you answered all the questions on the certification application accurately and provided all the necessary attachments, the site visit does not have to be a daunting experience.