Mastermind was founded on the simple concepts of mutuality and reciprocity, where we believe that a strong corps of happy employees lends positive experiences for our customers. It might sound unconventional, but the idea of prioritizing our people over customers is something we have tested for years with overwhelming success. When executed and balanced correctly, a culture of growth and mutual support leads to habits of unwavering loyalty – a loyalty that upholds the reputation of the combined team in all settings, a commitment to investing extra time to meet our customers where they are, and the enthusiasm to make the assessment process something (dare we say) actually fun.

By working with Mastermind, you’ll encounter a dedicated team committed to aiding your short-term certification goals. Moreover, we aspire to reshape the perception that audits are bad by inducing a deeper appreciation of these standards.

But, don’t take our word for it. Meet with us for 15 minutes, and we promise you will walk away with a feeling that these guys really know their stuff!

Mastermind is dedicated to impartiality in its interactions with internal staff, applicants, and clients, striving to maintain objectivity throughout assessment activities. To underscore this commitment, Mastermind has instituted an external committee with autonomy to assess the efficacy of these measures. The committee possesses the authority to make decisions impacting the business, serving as a safeguard against any compromise of impartiality, whether through actions driven by self-interest, self-review, familiarity, or intimidation.

Mastermind adheres to the requirements of ISO/IEC 17021-1, alongside other pertinent references governing audit activities within its scope of services. The obligations of customer organizations are outlined in the terms of the Service Agreement with Mastermind and these terms are supplemented by additional requirements related to the maintenance expectations for scopes of certification.

Certification decisions are carried out by an appointed representative specific to each scope at Mastermind that is tasked with reviewing the subject audit file for conformity with both the in-scope audit criteria and the certification body’s own processes for conducting these assessments.

As part of its technical review prior to deciding to grant, refuse, maintain (i.e., continue), renew, suspend, restore, or withdraw certification as well as expand or reduce the scope of existing certification, a representative of the certification body impartial to the appointed audit team providing the audit package will be assigned. This individual will perform a timely technical review considering the following:

  • Sufficiency of the supporting records and information provided by the audit team, including artifacts obtained from the customer, internally produced audit notes, and achievement against the audit objectives defined by the associated audit program.
  • For negative findings (i.e., nonconformities) identified within the system, the technical reviewer will consider the audit team’s review and acceptance of relevant corrections and corrective actions in accordance with timeframes established by Mastermind and the severity (i.e., grade) of these findings.

Following the technical review, the certification body via a specified committee impartial to the audit team decides on certification while reviewing the following items, as available:

  • The audit report supplied by the appointed audit team
  • Feedback on nonconformities provided by both the audit team and the assigned technical reviewer, as applicable
  • Information linkage among the application, application review, audit program, and audit report(s)
  • Achievement of the defined audit objectives required for the specific assessment
  • Audit team recommendations pertaining to the certification body decision
  • Financial good standing of the client with the certification body

If a scope is approved for certificate issuance, a certificate document (i.e., award) will be published and communicated to the client under the terms and conditions established in the originating Service Agreement between the client organization and Mastermind.

Each assessment conclusion is accompanied by a written audit report summarizing the procedures performed and evidence inspected in support of the decision.

Periodic surveillance audits in accordance with ISO/IEC 17021-1 are required to continue certification between full certification audits, while a recertification audit is due once every 3-year period prior to the defined expiration date labelled on the resulting certificate document.

A certificate cycle is defined as a 3-year period from the date of certificate decision. A full re-audit (commonly, referenced as a recertification audit) is required to be completed within 3 years of the last day of the Stage 2 Certification Audit and prior to the conclusion of each subsequent 3-year period thereafter. Failure to complete this recertification audit prior to the determined expiration date will result in a withdrawal of the scope by Mastermind following expiration. Mastermind will seek to provide advanced notice of this recertification audit requirement, as appropriate, via the provisioning of a request for application update and the execution of an additional Statement of Work at least four (4) months prior to this expiration date.

Mastermind reserves the right to suspend certificates at any time due to reasons such as a breach of contract with the certification body, negligence, concealment of evidence, nonconformities related to audit criteria, investigations, misrepresentation of scope or associated marks, complaints, and unpaid or severely past due fees. When suspended, certification for the affected scope becomes temporarily invalid and ineligible for transfer. In these cases, any public information related to the affected scope of certification will be revised to indicate a suspended status with the reversal of this label when the underlying issue is resolved as determined by an appointed representative of Mastermind.

Suspended scopes of certification are ineligible for transfer to an alternative certification body during the suspension period.

Typically, suspension periods last for a period no greater than 30 days, but exceptions granting extensions up to 6 months can be approved via written authorization from an appointed representative at Mastermind. Exceptions may be considered in situations where ongoing client communication is active and demonstrates a clear understanding of the gravity of the suspension decision. Additionally, exceptions may be granted when Mastermind believes the client’s plan to address the root issue has a high probability of success in achieving its intended outcome but requires a reasonable deadline extension.

If the suspension period lapses, Mastermind will withdraw the subject scope of certification from its directory and will expect the client to reasonably discontinue any further internal or public references indicating certification of the scope by Mastermind. Scopes that have been withdrawn by Mastermind will be required to execute an Initial Certification Audit, including both a Stage 1 Certification Audit and Stage 2 Certification Audit, as well as mutual execution of a new certificate agreement and proposal for services prior to being reconsidered for certification.

Where communication by Mastermind or its clients are anticipated to be accessible by the public, these disclosures and external representations are detailed within the Service Agreement provisioned by the certification body, which details the precautions and restrictions for referencing its certificate decisions and marks as well as the procedures to be enforced when that decision status changes due to events, such as, suspension and withdrawal of certification.

Mastermind maintains the following rules governing the use of any certification statement on product packaging, within accompanying information, or in publicly referenceable informational or marketing material pertaining to the certified scopes of its clients:

  • Management system standard (MSS) certification is not permitted to be utilized as a form of product packaging or affixed to product packaging. Additionally, Mastermind marks are not permitted for use or application to laboratory tests, calibration or inspection reports and related certificates.
  • Any references to MSS certification should refrain from implying any specific product, process or service is certified but rather the underlying system supporting the applicable activities in conformance with the normative criteria
  • Use of the certification body logo and seal by certified organizations of Mastermind is permissible when this mark appropriately represents the scope of certification and does not make misleading references
  • When hosting an internet-accessible copy of the certificate document (i.e., award) issued by Mastermind, it is the responsibility of the certified client to revise this copy of the certificate award within 30 days of any communication from Mastermind concerning new versions of this artifact. Any obsolete copies are required to be removed from hosting during such events.
  • Certified organizations and end customers of these organizations are not permitted to utilize the marks or logos of ISO, any accreditation body, or the International Accreditation Forum in connection with any scopes of certification decided by Mastermind
  • When referencing certification status, the certified organization must include the following information: (a) the brand or name of the certified client, (b) the type of management system (e.g., ISMS, PIMS) as well as both the applicable standards and revisions of those standards (e.g., ISO/IEC 27001:2022), and (c) the legal entity name or its approved short name (i.e., “Mastermind”) of the issuing certification body.

Specific contractual requirements related to this certificate agreement are embedded within the Service Agreement between Mastermind and its clients.

To protect its interests and the integrity of its controlled marks, Mastermind performs the following:

  • Periodic, ad hoc reviews of the website and marketing assets of its certified clients to ensure appropriate representation of its scopes of certification, including its use of marks of external origin (e.g., Mastermind seal)
  • Timely requests to remove the Mastermind seal, hyperlinks, or webpages obtaining certificate award information when scopes have been reduced or withdrawn
  • Annual audits of the use of marks as part of the certification body’s evaluation of external communication methods when assessing normative criteria as part of surveillance and recertification audits
  • Limited acceptance of any removal or modification to certificate agreement terms detailed within its service agreements with clients
  • Any identified corrections will be communicated to Mastermind clients via written notification (e.g., email) and a correction period of up to 30 days will be afforded prior to suspension of the scopes of certification and legal action, where necessary.

Mastermind, in its sole discretion, reserves the right to exercise proper control of ownership and to enforce correction over any cases it identifies as being in violation of these rules either defined above or within its legally enforceable certificate agreements.

Organizations receiving certificates issued by Mastermind can verify the validity and status of these awards by submitting an inquiry to the certification body through its contact form.