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Frequently Asked Questions

ISO Certifications & Standards

What Is ISO Certification?

ISO Certification is an assessment of your company, carried out by an independent body, to an established/recognised standard. If an assessment establishes that your company meets the requirements of the standard, you should receive a certificate of confirmation, hence Certification. Such bodies should be able to show their independence by being accredited by an independent Third-Party Accreditation Body such as ASCB – Accreditation Service for Certifying Bodies. 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. The way to prove that you comply with the requirements of a Standard is to undergo an external assessment of your operations carried out by an independent body.

What Are The Most Common ISO Certifications?

There are many Standards - British (BS), European (EN) and International (ISO) - covering different requirements; for the most important Standards, British and European Standards Committees adopt the ISO equivalent, for instance the original British Quality Standard – BS 5750 - has become ISO 9001, currently ISO 9001:2015 – Quality Management There are others: 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 of internal and external circumstances that only you can finally establish as appropriate for your business.

Do I Need ISO Certification?

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 such as quality, environmental and health & safety management systems. There is a cost to gaining/retaining accreditation(s) so you need to measure the benefits against the fees involved. IS Certification Services are happy to provide realistic, independent advice regarding your Certification needs and ISO requirments.

How Will ISO Certification Help My Business?

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. Certification to some Standards might enable you to enter governmental/local council markets where such is specified. In some instances, it is possible that the benefits will not be sufficient for your needs.

What Are Third Party Accreditation Bodies?

These are independent authorities who accredit any organisation that issues certificates of qualification, attainment or compliance to their clients. 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 - ISO 17020. There are several such bodies but you should ensure that the Certification Body providing your certifications is reputable, independent and internationally recognised. For example; IQS Audits Ltd is accredited by ASCB, who operate world-wide; they audit IQS Audits regularly to ensure compliance.

What Are Certifying Organisations?

These are organisations that 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 relevant Standard. The certificate includes the details of both the Accreditation Body and the certifying organisation. You should ensure that any certifying organisation that you wish to employ is accredited by a reputable Third-Party Accreditation Body. You can review both ASCB and IQS Audits websites for more detailed information. You can also check the certifications of any particular company claiming to be certified by ASCB/IQS Audits Ltd on their website(s).

Can I Be Accredited To More Than One Standard?

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 & Safety too. In addition, there might be cost benefits as some Standards have some overlapping requirements.

How Much Time Will ISO Certification Take?

You should be clear from the start that most Standards will require you to carry out some processes/procedures that you would not necessarily need in running a business. So be aware that continual commitment from top management down, effort, resources and teamwork are required to gain and retain ISO certification. These resources will be people, systems, IT and controls. These and the cost implications need to be measured against the benefits of ISO certification(s).

How Much Does ISO Certification Cost?

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 to do this for you, usually for a fee. We can advise you on a suitable company for the documentation if you require. In addition, you will then need to pay the certification body for carrying out the audit(s) most usually onsite. ASCB require that surveillance audits are carried out annually to confirm your continuing compliance so there is an ongoing annual cost. Usually, documentation will only need to be revised if the Standard is updated. One point to note is that we do not charge for travel and subsistence providing we can complete the audit within a day without an overnight stay or the use of public transport. We will notify you in advance where extra costs are incurred for an audit.

Where Can I Use The Certification?

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. In addition, ASCB and IQs Audits Ltd have their own websites where you can check the authenticity of any certificate so accredited.

What Is a Management Standard?

A Management Standard is a document that sets out the fundamental principles associated with the subject of that Standard. It addresses all the key elements and give you a firm basis on which to run, monitor and improve your business. These Management Standards, of which there are many, are devised and documented by a technical committee comprising recognised experts in the field of the subject of that particular Standard. UK Standards are prefixed by ‘BS’, European prefixed by ‘EN’, International prefixed by ‘ISO’ and American prefixed by ’AS’. Many other countries have similar Standards with their own prefix, though most are usually adopted from the relevant ISO Standard. The benefits of adopting the principles of a Standard can include a competitive advantage, acceptance by Governmental Departments, Local Councils, increased efficiency, reduced costs and Improved customer satisfaction.

How Do I Get ISO Certified?

In the first instance, you need to discuss your options with us to determine if ISO Certification will benefit your company and if so what Standard(s) might be relevant. We provide straightforward honest advice, but only you can determine whether your company benefits from ISO Certification. Once you are clear and wish to proceed you can obtain a copy of the Standard(s) and draw up your own compliant documentation, ask us to advise on a suitable company for this or find your own consultant. Once you have compliant documentation you will then need to set up the procedures to meet the requirements of the Standard(s). Most of these are useful and will benefit the operations of your company, providing you with systems and data on how your company is performing. When you feel your company is ready, we arrange to visit your company to carry out the appropriate audit(s). There is a fee for this and we will provide you with a quotation and term so that you are clear on all costs. We back up the quotation by providing ongoing Standards advice to you as needed. Generally, we are able to carry out most audits within a day, however this will depend on site location and transport options. If you wish to get ISO certified then please contact us today!

How Do I Maintain My Certification(s)?

Our independent accreditation body, ASCB, requires that we audit your company annually to ensure your ongoing compliance. The fee for this is as for your first audit. We need to re-audit your company before expiry of your current certification(s) and usually email you to warn you that your certificates will expire soon.

Are There Hidden ISO Certification Costs?

Our services, once audited by IQS Audits Ltd, include providing you with advice on Standard related issues, updating you on changes to Standards or their requirements. We do not charge for such advice as it is usually carried out by phone or email. We may however make a charge if you request a non-audit visit. You are required by most Standards to carry out internal audits of your management system(s). This is straightforward but can take time to carry out. We can complete this for you through a site visit, however charges will apply. You will find us easy to talk to, and willing to answer your standards related questions. We have a free on-going email and telephone helpline, for use by our clients, to answer their standards related questions.

What is ISO 9001:2015?

ISO 9001:2015 is the current edition of the Quality Standard and the most requested standard around the world to show that a company supplies a quality service or product that can be trusted globally.

What is ISO 9001:2008?

ISO 9001:2008 is the previous version of the current ISO 9001:2015. The 2008 version is now out of date and no longer considered valid.

How long will it take to get ISO 9001?

The length of time to put the standard into a company depends on the current practices in place, and the determination the company leadership has to achieve excellence, but in reality, most practices involved are what any competent company should be doing anyway if they are determined to meet customer needs.

How will ISO 9001 help my company?

If the certification is accredited, and therefore has been audited by a competent audit body, and therefore trusted, it should show potential customers that the company supplies a reliable, high class service/ product.

How long does ISO 9001 certification last?

To maintain certification, a company should have an annual audit which it must pass to retain certification. A full certification cycle is 3 years, with some companies issuing either an annual certification or a 3 year cycle certification, but both need an annual audit to retain certification of compliance.

Why do potential customers require proof of ISO 9001?

Customers like to ensure that suppliers will consistently supply a quality service/product, something that should be tested through an annual independent auditor inspection by an accredited audit body, for which certification is issued. The inspection will test the compliance to the requirements of the ISO 9001:2015 standard.

Have a question not listed above?

If so, please contact IS Certification Services, we will endeavour to answer it