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ISO-certification-business-man-on-screenISO certification is suitable for organisations of all sizes, sectors and locations (international). It could be argued that gaining certification is a necessity rather than an option for businesses who need to demonstrate their credibility to deliver quality products and customer service consistently to recognised standards. In fact, some customers (buyers) in the public and private sectors will insist on ISO certification when requesting tenders from suppliers.

Whether your customers demand certification or not, the process of gaining ISO certification will improve your businesses processes, procedures and documentation to make your organisation more resilient, efficient and profitable.

Continuous monitoring and improvement through the continuous assessment process will give you an edge over your competitors and help to retain and acquire new business.

ISO certification is carried out by independent third parties called Certification Bodies (CBs). Their assessors will approve your processes, procedures and documentation on a 3-year certification cycle.

What is UKAS accredited ISO certification?
UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service) is recognised by the UK government and by EU member states governments and are responsible for (quoted from their website):

 “determining, in the public interest, the technical competence and integrity of organisations such as those offering testing, calibration and certification services.”

OHSAS 18001 UKAS (1)Not all Certification Bodies are UKAS accredited. Only CBs that have been assessed to provide certification following regular audits by UKAS to ensure impartiality and competence can include the “crown” and “tick” on their clients’ certificates.

Using a UKAS accredited CB means your certification has instant recognition throughout the EU.

How to achieve ISO certification?
You can prepare your organisation for certification using internal resources with the relevant knowledge and experience or by engaging external consultants.
Once you are satisfied that you have implemented the processes and documentation needed to meet the ISO standard you have selected, you can then instruct a Certification Body to arrange a stage 1 audit. This audit will check your compliance and identify areas for improvement.

Any nonconformities that have been identified in stage 1 are then corrected ready for the stage 2 audit. Providing the stage 2 audit is successfully completed without any further major nonconformities, you will then be issued with your certificate.

Recertification is carried out every 3 years and you will be audited to check your performance against targets and objectives set in your last audit.

To ensure you are continuing to meet the required standard and are maintaining a strategy of continual improvement, it is recommended that surveillance audits are carried out annually before your next 3-year recertification. These audits will focus on business performance, evaluation of your management system and identifying any improvements that could be made.

You can read a more detailed breakdown of what is included in each audit on our web page: http://www.acsregistrars.com/objectives-of-an-audit

What is ISO?
ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) was established in 1947 with the aim of unifying industrial standards around the world. It is totally independent and not under any governmental control. The organisation today has members from 164 countries and has its head office in Geneva, Switzerland.

There are numerous ISO standards and organisations can select the standard or standards most relevant to their business. Some of the more recognised ones are:
  • ISO 9001 for quality management.
  • ISO 14001 to improve your environmental management.
  • ISO 27001 to secure your organisations information and electronic data.
  • ISO 45001 (OHSAS 18001) for occupational health and safety.
If you need certification, already have certification and need to renew it or would like to discuss how a surveillance audit could improve your business and prepare you for your next certification audit, please call 0121 214 2299 and talk to one of our team.
ISO 9001 Quality Management System (QMS) is probably the most popular and recognised of all the ISO standards used by businesses to demonstrate that they are operating efficiently to provide quality products or services to their customers.

ISO 9001 is one of a range of ISO standards that benefits businesses and institutions by providing audited certification to help them to increase sales and trade at home and abroad. It is often the first of a raft of other standards that a business will use to demonstrate their focus on customer satisfaction.

Other standards regularly combined with ISO 9001 include ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001 (ISO 45001) and ISO 27001.

ISO standards are implemented by businesses to provide consistent and measurable management systems that can be used by their customers (buyers) to select suppliers. Achieving an ISO certification such as ISO 9001 will open doors to new customers and markets.

ISO is an international organisation and currently spans 162 member countries which recognise the importance of these standards to increase international trade. ISO, though recognised by the EU is not connected to the EU.

Certification bodies will continue to be audited by UKAS to provide organisations with UKAS accredited certification to help them retain and win new business in international markets.

Whether the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal, the UK government will continue to recognise UKAS as the sole national accreditation body and UKAS accredited certification will retain international recognition.

The UK government has confirmed this through the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial strategy drafted in a statutory instrument in preparation for a no deal Brexit.

As far as ISO standards are concerned, it is business as usual.

Containers-international-tradeEffects of a no deal Brexit on business
The UK has been granted an extension to Brexit until 31st October 2019. This gives businesses additional time to prepare for a possible no deal.

Some commentators have increased their odds on a no deal resulting from the stalemate in negotiations for Brexit.

We may find that if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, exporters will face difficult trading conditions for a while.

Headlines from a variety of forecasters are expecting a downturn in trade due to the disruptions that will be caused at the border and lack of clarity on customs tariffs.

In these circumstances, UK businesses that have an ISO standard such as ISO 9001 can gain advantages over some of their EU competitors that do not. Also, while trade barriers with the EU may lead to a reduced market in the short term, gaining access to new markets outside the EU will support businesses through the Brexit no deal transition.

Your ISO 9001 QMS will provide the framework you need to meet the challenges of a Brexit no deal.

If you have implemented ISO 9001 QMS in your business, you can help to minimise the effect of a no deal because risk assessment is a fundamental part of ISO 9001. Carrying out a Brexit no deal risk assessment will help you to:
  • Identify areas that will impact your business.
  • Analyse solutions.
  • Instigate changes.
Following a no deal, there will probably be an increase in administration costs and more forms to fill in to continue to trade with the EU. As part of your continuous improvements, ISO 9001 will help to streamline your administration and identify unnecessary and time-consuming tasks to free up more time to deal with the extra paperwork.

Leadership from top management and involvement in the businesses management system is one of the new requirements for ISO 9001:2015 (ISO 9001:2008 revised) which will help drive through the changes that will be required to prepare for a no deal.

Get expert help. If you think ISO 9001 would help your business to survive Brexit or if your certification is coming up for renewal and you would like to discuss some of the challenges you may face, call 0121 241 2299 and talk to one of our team.
The transition to ISO 9001:2015 is now in its final year.

When ISO 9001:2015 was introduced in September 2015, organisations were given 3 years to update to the new version.

As the three-year transition for ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 moves into its final year, IAF (the International Accreditation Forum) has passed a resolution that as of 15th March 2018, Certification Bodies must conduct all ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 initial surveillance and recertification audits to the new versions - ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015.

ISO_9001_Review_transition_period_running_outWhat does this mean?
Any audits you have booked between March and September 2018 will need to be to the revised standards, as failure to achieve certification to the 2015 standards by the expiry deadline in September 2018 will result in your certification no longer being valid. This may affect your ability to supply to all your markets.

Time is running out, if you rely on ISO 9001 certification to maintain your supplier status with your key customers and you have not yet made the transition to the 2015 standard.

If you leave it too late you run the risk that your auditors will not be able to fit you into their increased workload.

UKAS accredited ISO 9001 certification
Not all Certification Bodies (CBs) are UKAS accredited. This means that the CB issuing your certificate has not been audited and accredited by UKAS.

This could have implications for future contracts and orders with your customers. For example, one of your customers may have won a new contract to supply a major project that requires them and their suppliers to hold UKAS approved ISO certificates. Not having a UKAS certificate could mean losing the contract or having to modify your existing procedures to comply with an audit to UKAS standards.

Many multi-national organisations and central and local government departments will require their suppliers throughout the supply chain to gain UKAS certification.

If you are thinking about the transition to ISO 9001:2015 and your current CB is not UKAS accredited, now may be a good time to move to one that is.

To find out if your certificate has been issued by a UKAS accredited CB, look for the crown and the tick.

UKAS is the sole UK national accreditation body recognised by the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) to assess against internationally agreed standards.

For more information or to get your transition started, please talk to one of our team on 0121 241 2299.

Gaining certification to any of the recognised standards such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 27001 amongst others, requires time and resources. You will want to make sure that the Certification Body (CB) issuing your certificate is suitably qualified to provide the best service for your business.

Achieving certification will benefit your entire organisation and, if done properly, can improve the prospects and profitability of your company. It is therefore, important to check that your certification body is experienced and has been through regular audits themselves, like the audits you must go through.

UKASUKAS – United Kingdom Accreditation Service
If you do not see the UKAS tick and crown logo on your certificate, this means your Certification Body (CB) has not been Accredited by UKAS for the scope of your Certification.

UKAS is the sole UK national accreditation body recognised by the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) to assess, against internationally agreed standards.

There is no legal requirement for a Certification Body to be UKAS accredited and some CBs choose to provide consultancy and certification under the same roof to streamline the process. However, UKAS and the IAF do not permit this and require UKAS accredited CBs to refrain from providing any consultancy services, to ensure that the value of Certification is kept as an impartial third-party process.

Checking that you are working with a UKAS accredited CB will ensure that your hard-earned resources are not wasted on certification that may not be recognised by your customers.

Why UKAS accreditation?
Not all certification is UKAS accredited. This means that the Certification Body issuing the certificate has not been audited and accredited by UKAS.

In the same way that you are regularly audited, UKAS is the auditor for UKAS accredited CBs who issue certificates.

By choosing a CB that has been UKAS accredited, you can be confident they are operating to recognised standards and are regularly audited to maintain compliance.

UKAS reviews the CBs management, policies and procedures for the standards they are audited on. They will only be audited on standards where they have proven industry knowledge. Any new industry standards they want to include in their portfolio have to go through the auditing process.

Benefits of UKAS accreditation
One of the many reasons for going through the process of certification is supplier demand. Many multi-national organisations and central and local government will require their suppliers to gain certification to maintain the quality of products and services throughout their supply chain.

For individual companies in the supply chain, this means establishing management systems and frameworks to meet the relevant standard, then continuously monitoring and improving processes to maintain certification.

The benefits to your business of achieving certification from a UKAS accredited CB include:

  • Quality of audit is based on recognised standards.
  • Audit will be impartial.
  • Auditor will have knowledge of your industry.
  • Management systems will be established using best practise within your industry.
  • Increased efficiency and cost savings.
  • Access to new markets at home and abroad because UKAS accredited certificates are recognised worldwide.
Contact us to find out more about ISO certification.
Revision of these two key management system standards took place in 2015 and organisations will have to transfer to the updated standards by September 2018.

ISO_9001_and_14001_standards_1Existing ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 14001:2004 registered companies should now be well into their planning to ensure a smooth transition to the revised standards by this date.

One of the benefits of the revision is to provide a common structure, text and definitions to make integration of multiple standards smoother and quicker to achieve. In the revised standard, Annex XL provides a framework to help achieve this.

Revision benefits
 
1. Integration
For organisations with both ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 standards, taking this integrated approach will save time by streamlining the process of certification and removing duplication.
 
2. Risk management
One of the main areas of change is an increased focus on risk management and the establishment of an effective risk management plan. Risk is documented in most sections of the revised standards, so if you do not already have a risk management plan, this should be one of your first tasks. Typical risk processes include:
  • Risk determination,
  • Risk control,
  • Risk mitigation,
  • Acceptable level of risk.
By taking a risk based approach the intention is to prevent or reduce undesired effects, achieve continual improvement and provide action plans to address these risks and opportunities.
 
3. Management processes
Along with the new high level structure/format, the new standards require a higher priority be given to managing processes and less about documentation.
 
4. Leadership
Emphasis on the importance of leadership from top management will ensure that the organisation’s quality management system achieves the desired results.

Meeting the demands of today’s businesses
The new 2015 revisions reflect the vast changes in technology that have taken place during the last few years. They also aim to improve the speed and flexibility needed in a modern businesses management system to enable companies to compete in the global economy.

If you have any questions about how to plan your transition, call ACS Registrars to find out more.