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Certification to ISO Standards used to have a bureaucratic approach which was both expensive and time consuming to keep up. Over the years it seems that the International Standards Organisation has changed its approach, realising that companies need to spend their time ensuring they make a profit, as result the everyday standards needed by most companies seem to follow a common sense approach that is needed in the everyday life of operating a business, thus standards such as ISO 9001 (The Quality Standard) which is the most commonly requested standard required by potential customers, asks holders to do what they should be doing anyway. Where this is not the case, the standard has exclusion areas where, if you don’t do a function, you can be excluded from following that section of the standard.
These days we all live in a much smaller world, giving much greater access to world trade, it is now commonplace for businesses on one side of the world to deal with businesses on the other side of the world, great communication, great transport, great opportunities for both buyer and seller. But how do we know that the company on the other side of the world can deliver on their promises?, how do we know whether the product or service we are buying is fit for our purpose? We could spend months investigating past records of the supplier, taking up references and hoping they weren’t the only customer to have received a good service from that supplier, we could have a product inspection company watching the production run and testing samples, a very good idea, or we could have a second party inspection of the supplier’s operating methods to ensure the manufacturer takes the correct approach to making proper checks at stages throughout production, but a common sense and widely accepted approach is to have the supplier annually inspected to ensure good practice is used throughout the company for all customers, and ensuring thay they do the same with their suppliers, creating a quality supply chain, it’s no good you doing your best for your customer if your supplier fails you.
ISO Standards Certification has long been the accepted method of gaining trust in the ability of suppliers, and now, with global markets so readily available adding lots of competition, we all need be able to prove our value to customers far and wide.
We can prove our value by showing potential customers our ISO Standards for Quality, potential customers in the developed world will usually ask to see certificates, they will check to ensure the certification scope covers what they need, they will check that the certification was given after an inspection from an accredited audit body, and now they should check that the certification is valid. Because of the great opportunities available to holders of ISO Standards certifications, some unscrupulous companies will attempt to trick their suppliers by buying fake certificates, but when found out, news spreads very fast leaving the unscrupulous supplier with lost opportunities and a bad reputation that spreads far faster than a good one.
So, how do we check whether our potential supplier has a genuine certificate of a fake? Very Easy, if the supplier does not have documentation in use that would be required by an approved ISO Standards certification holder, it probably means they haven’t been audited by an accredited ISO Standards auditor, if their communication skills are not good with both suppliers and customers, it probably means they haven’t been audited by an accredited ISO Standards auditor, If they do not seek feedback from customers, it probably means they haven’t been audited by an accredited ISO Standards auditor.
There are other ways to check the validity of certification, you can contact the audit body to ask if they have issued the supplier company with ISO Standards certification, and whether that certification is in date. You can check to see whether the accredited certification body is listed on their accreditation body’s list of approved auditors which should be on their web site, and now some audit bodies have a Certification Authenticity checker whereby every company audited successfully by them is listed and can be seen in a matter of minutes 24/7 anywhere there is web access throughout the world, this method is close to fool proof as long as access to that register is controlled and restricted to trusted members of the audit team to allow loading of information to the register concerned.
Give it a try, go to www.iqsaudits.com/certificate-authenticity for the purposes of this exercise IQS Audits Ltd have agreed to enter a sample certificate, so, on their system one of their Saudi Arabia audit team went to audit a local company which passed its audit with very minor issues, the auditor documented the issues and recorded them as observations to be cleared by the next year’s audit. The audit report is sent for scrutiny at the British offices of IQS, where the Scheme Manager agrees the findings and authorises new certification to be issued and for the certification-authenticity register to be updated. The certification is sent to the successful company by e-mail, the register is updated for all to see and check to ensure the certificate is genuine.
Our successful company for this exercise is called Sample Ltd, its certification registration number is 0123456 by entering either the company name or the certification registration number, both of which appear on every certificate, as does the web address of the register, you can go to this register now, enter either the company name or certificate number and look for the register response. (depending on your screen size you may need to scroll down a little to read the result. After this verification of the certificate’s authenticity, try entering a different number or misspelling Sample Ltd and again see the response for a fake certificate.
More and more companies are checking certificate validity, having a fake certificate is worse than having no certificate, a fake shows you have tried to deceive your customer whereas no certificate shows you are not really serious about good business. Genuine certification is not difficult, mostly it’s asking you to do what you already do while documenting the results which will benefit you and improve your efficiency in the long run.
4 February 2015