ISO 20252:2019 How to Get Your Scope Right!

ISO 20252:2019 is a specialist quality standard for the Market Research industry, and at roughly 74 pages it is not a short standard!

Our ISO 20252 consultants have taken time to break down the requirements of the standard, consume the guidance from the MRS Guide “26 Steps to Certification” and developed a set of ISO 20252 documentation that can be used as the basis of a management system.

However, one of the biggest lessons we’ve learnt from actually delivering ISO 20252 with clients, and undergoing the external audit process is… get the scope right!


The Role of the Statement of Applicability (SOA)

The 2019 edition of the ISO 20252 standard has 6 additional annexes that can be attested to: 

Annex A — Sampling including access panels;

Annex B — Fieldwork;

Annex C — Physical observation;

Annex D — Digital observation;

Annex E — Self completion;

Annex F — Data management and processing.

To provide clarity for market research buyers, and other interested parties, a statement of applicability (SOA) must be prepared to provide information about products and services that the organisation offers, and the related Annexes.  

In addition, the SOA contains information about who within the organisation is responsible for each area.

Any excluded Annexes or Clause should also be justified here.

To provide clarity on what is covered by the ISO 20252 system and related certification the SOA should be available to interested parties.

Justifying Excluded ISO 20252 Clauses

As ISO Consultants we hesitate before we exclude any clauses from a standard.

This is partly because excluding a clause can compromise the integrity of a management system, even where that clause is rarely relevant.  

For example, clause 4.5.2.2 “Product handling”.  A market research firm may not handle products on a regular basis because many of their research assignments may not involve physical products.   However, there may still be a possibility that an assignment is taken on that involves that control.

While that assignment could still be delivered outside the ISO 20252 framework, it would still benefit the organisation to have established procedures in line with clause 4.5.2.2.   

Although we understand the challenge for certification auditors is the requirement to see objective evidence of the clause, which may not be readily available.   Certification auditors take different approaches to this. 

Excluding clauses in ISO 20252 is different though.  External ISO 20252 auditors have a better understanding of the Market Research industry and therefore have 

In our experience certification auditors accept clauses in both the framework and annex parts of that standard being excluded if they are justified, and often auditors raise observations towards excluding further clauses.  

How to Determine Your ISO 20252 Scope

The first step in your ISO 20252 journey should be to establish the scope.   

List out the products and services you provide, and relate those to the Annexes in the standard.

Exclude any Annexes that don’t relate to your products and services using that as a justification.

Next, we recommend performing a gap analysis against the standard.  This can be done in house or by engaging our expert ISO Consultants.

The gap analysis will produce a report that highlights your current application of each requirement in the standard, and whether there are grounds to exclude them.

Using our gap analysis report, you can develop your statement of applicability document and take our findings forward to close out the “gaps” and work towards compliance.

ISO 20252 Extension to Scope

It is of course possible to extend the scope of your ISO 20252 certification to cover additional Annexes and/or clauses at any time.

This can be done at the next planned certification audit or as an additional extension to scope (ETS) audit, if it’s required to be on your certificate sooner. 

Contact us or your certification body to discuss this option.

Get Started with ISO 20252

Find out how Assent Risk Management can help you implement and maintain the standard for quality management standards within the market research industry.

Robert Clements
Robert Clements
Articles: 290