Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What Is ISO Certification?
What Are The Most Common ISO Certifications?
Do I Need ISO Certification?
How Will ISO Certification Help My Business?
What Are Third Party Accreditation Bodies?
What Are Certifying Organisations?
Can I Be Accredited To More Than One Standard?
How Much Of My Time Will It Take?
How Much Does ISO Certification Cost?
Where Can I Use The Certification?
This is an assessment of your company, carried out by an independent body, to an established/recognised standard. If the assessment establishes that your company meets the requirements of the standard, you should receive a certificate of confirmation, hence Certification. The most recognised Standards are those set by British - BS, European - EN or International – ISO Bodies who use technical experts in the relevant field to document the requirements of that Standard.
There are many Standards, British (BS), European (EN) and International (ISO) covering different requirements, ISO 9001:2015 – Quality Management, ISO 14001:2015 – Environmental Management and ISO 45001:2018 – Health and Safety Management. There are others for Information Security, Business Continuity and Secure Destruction of Confidential Material. The choice of the Standard that you might wish to achieve will be determined by a variety if internal and external circumstances that only you can finally establish as appropriate for your business.
This depends on several issues including the market in which you are operating, the status of your main competitors and client requirements, for example some councils/ governmental departments prefer to see accreditations. There is a cost to gaining/retaining accreditation(s) so you need to measure the benefits against the fees involved.
Some Standards e.g. ISO 9001:2015 – Quality Management - benefit the operation of your business by increasing efficiency, reducing the cost of nonconformance and providing important information on business performance. In addition, customer confidence can be improved as your methods and practices have been assessed and accredited by a third-party independent body such as IQS Audits Limited.
These are independent authorities who accredit any organisation that issues certificates of qualification, attainment or compliance They should be independent of such organisations and should police them to ensure that they perform each pre-certification assessment (audit) to the required Standard as defined in ISO 17020. There are several such bodies but you should ensure that the Accreditation Body backing your certifications is reputable, independent and internationally recognised. We are accredited by ASCB, the Accreditation Body for Certifying Bodies, who operate world-wide; they audit IQS Audits regularly to ensure our compliance.
These are organisations that are authorised to carry out assessments/audits to the relevant Standard(s) on behalf of the Third-Party Independent Accreditation Body; upon a successful audit they can issue a certificate of conformance confirming compliance to the requirements of the Standard. The certificate will include the details of both the Accreditation Body and the certifying organisation. A big plus with ASCB and IQS Audits as they both have websites that allow interested parties to check the certifications of any particular certified company.
Some companies may decide that one specific Standard meets their requirements, both internal and external. Others may determine that there are advantages to gaining more than one Standard. We have many clients who have established the advantages to them of being certified to both ISO 9001:2015 – Quality - and ISO 14001:2015 – Environmental. Some go further and achieve certification to ISO 45001:2018 – Health and Safety too.
You should be clear from the start that most Standards will require you to carry out processes/procedures that you would not necessarily need to set up in a business. So be aware that continual commitment from top management down, effort, resources and teamwork are required to gain and retain certification. These resources will be people, systems, IT and controls.
Ideally, you should purchase a copy of the relevant Standard – probably about £150 - that will inform you of its requirements and what is needed in order to conform and gain certification. You will then need appropriate compliant documentation as defined by the Standard that you can draw up yourself or pay an expert such as ISO Certification Services to do for you for a fee. In addition, you will then need to pay the certification body for carrying out the audit(s). Such audits are carried out annually to confirm your continuing compliance so there is an ongoing annual cost.
BS, EN and ISO Standards are recognised within their relevant areas so your clients are entitled to see copies of your certificates to confirm your compliance. One benefit of certification is that when you receive a quality assessment form from a client or potential client you can just send a copy of your certificate. These certifications demonstrate your operational structure, proper control systems and a commitment to continual improvement.