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20 January 2015

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Routes to certification

Routes to certification

Do you want to become compliant to an ISO standard? Then becoming certified by an independent Certification Body gives you and your clients assurance that you meet the requirements. This article gives an overview of the benefits of becoming certified, and how to get started in order to be best prepared to achieve certification.

Why become certified?

There is actually no requirement to become certified. The cheapest way to become compliant is to simply buy a copy of the standard and follow all the requirements. However, the standards aren’t written in layman’s terms, so require some time to interpret. If you get over that hurdle and check you meet all the requirements, the problem is then demonstrating to your managers, clients and stakeholders that you truly meet the standard when they only have your word to go by.

The primary motivation for most businesses to implement an ISO standard is to enhance their management processes and benefit from greater efficiency and consequent cost savings; they want to improve their business. However, naturally, people like to shout about meeting such a standard as it differentiates them from the competition and lets existing clients know that they are constantly trying to improve. Third party certification allows businesses to truly shout about their implementation of an ISO standard, demonstrating that independent experts have verified that you meet all requirements. Their experience will also help you gain the most out of the standard.

For those businesses which wish to implement an ISO standard to win new business, then certification is virtually a necessity. Almost any client asking to see evidence of an ISO standard in place will expect a certificate issued by a recognised Certification Body to back it up.

Using an ISO consultant

Many organisations choose a consultant to help them get through the ISO certification process, but are they necessary? That can depend on your job role and the size of the organisation you work in. Generally, smaller businesses do not normally require consultants – thousands of our certified clients being proof of that. In fact, greater benefits can be had from the process by implementing the standard yourself. Appointing a champion that can exert influence on management and staff as a whole helps implementation company-wide. Of course, no one knows a business like a person than works in it.

If you’re in a larger organisation, or have a particularly demanding job, then a consultant may prove the only option. As with using a reputable Certification Body, an experienced consultant can enhance the process and provide peace of mind. The process can also be quicker when using a consultant, as they are used to writing management systems, procedures and other paperwork necessary for the standard.

If you feel a consultant is necessary, then its important to check their credentials. Ideally they should have expertise in your industry and should at the least demonstrate they have successfully gotten other business through the certification process.

Whenever choosing a consultant, check for relevant qualifications, references and an appropriate level of Professional Indemnity Insurance. Ensure the consultant is stable too; check their company’s financial status so you don’t risk being caught out.

Getting Started

Purchasing a copy of the relevant  ISO standard can result in an intimidating read for those new to it. To address this, ISO have published books for the ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 standards, specifically designed for small businesses, which we would recommend and provide as part of our training courses.

There can also be great benefit from a ‘knowledge transfer’ session. Many Business Links can put you in touch with similar organisations to yours who have already been through the ISO certification process. Alternatively, you could ask for feedback from members of your local Chamber of Commerce or networking club. Talking to them can give a true insight into how they got started and have successfully maintained their certified status. We also have anISO case studies section, where previous clients have talked about their certification.

Becoming certified is probably far more straight-forward than you think. For more advice, please feel free to contact us on +65 6733 6064.

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