Certification & Accreditation

UKAS & ISO Standards - What's the difference between certification and accreditation, and why is it important?

Put simply, a companies management system is certified to the relevant Standard by an accredited assessment body. In our opinion this should be a UKAS accredited body.

"UKAS is the sole national accreditation body recognised by government to assess, against internationally agreed standards, organisations that provied certification, testing, inspection and calibration services."

UKAS

Why is this distinction important?

Let's imagine - You require, or have just implemented, a management system to comply with an ISO Standard such as ISO 14001 and/or ISO 9001. You may want to have it certified to demonstrate to your stakholders that you really do meet the standards requirements or use it in a tender application. You will approach someone to undertake the work and if successful you will receive a certificate. However, some management systems and their certificates may not be worth the paper they are printed on, it depends who has issued them.

We beleive that for a management system to truly reach its potential it should be certified by an independent and unbiased body. Any organisation which provides ISO certification should, we believe, always be accredited by UKAS (The United Kingdom Accreditation Service). By gaining this accreditation, they have officially been recognised as competent and impartial.

Whilst being certified by a non-UKAS-accredited body is perfectly legal, you may end up spending money on a scheme which your customers do not recognise or accept and does not offer the value of a truly bespoke, UKAs accredited, system. Furthermore, organisations around the world now frequently demand a copy of your UKAS-accredited certification as part of their tender process. If this is the case and it is not it will be rejected.

We beleive that the organisation certifying your management system should not be the same as the one implementing it, to us this is a clear conflict of interest. Think of a student marking their own exam or a company completing thier own customer satisfaction forms. This is why you will never see UKAS accredited certification bodies offering consultancy to orgnisations they certify or a consultancy, such as AVISO, offering certification.

We advise that you consider what is being asked of you to achieve certification:

  • Does everything seem too good to be true?
  • Does the process seem too simple?
  • Is the management system offered a generic template?
  • Do you struggle to see how the system will offer real value and improvement to your business?
  • Does it seem someone is simply asking for money for the certificate?
  • Does the company guarantee certification?
  • Are they offering a set price in a set time with little or no knowladge of your orgnisation?

If the answer to any of these is yes, then we strongly recommend that you do some further investigation and get a second opinion.

The most important thing to remember is that true ISO certification will always involve some work. Meaningful certification cannot be achieved through payment alone or by entering your company name in to a generic template. However, the rewards of UKAS accreditated ISO standard will, we beleive, always be much greater.

"Small businesses recognise the importance of independent evaluation. However, for customers, consumers, buyers or purchasers, the old adage "caveat emptor" - let the buyer beware - remains.

If a small business chooses to take the certification route we are strongly in favour that they select a certification body carrying UKAS accreditation. I commit the Federation to make known the importance of UKAS accreditation and the value, security and confidence it brings to small business."

Ian Handford, Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, February 2001.

So, when choosing an organisation to certify your system, we recommend choosing one that is UKAS accredited. Doing so will demonstrate that you have fully met the standards requirements, will allow you to promote the certification openly, include it in your marketing literature, compete for tenders and open new markets for your business on a global scale. You can find a full list of accredited organisations via the following links.

ISO 9001 quality management systems: http://www.ukas.com/about-accreditation/accredited-bodies/certification-body-schedules-QMS.asp

ISO 14001 environmental management systems: http://www.ukas.com/about-accreditation/accredited-bodies/certification-body-schedules-EMS.asp

For further advice, call us on 07941501064, visit our website http://www.avisoconsultancy.co.uk or email us at info@avisoconsultancy.co.uk

By Paul Stevens

Posted on: 12/09/2013 By: Mr Paul Stevens   Categories: Environmental, Sustainability, Energy, Quality, Management system

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