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.”
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.