Certification

Certification

Certification derives from the assessment of an organisation’s management system by an accredited third party Certification Body.

Accreditation

Most certification bodies have been accredited by their national accreditation service. In the UK, the service is the United Kingdom Accreditation Service, (UKAS). Accreditation is part of a hierarchy of assurance, and it is awarded to a certification body as recognition that it meets and continues to meet internationally accepted criteria. These cover integrity and technical competence, as well as the capability of staff to assess companies to the ISO standards, in specific business areas, to a consistent level of quality.

The accrediting authority ensures that the certification body conforms to these criteria, which include the qualification and experience of auditors, the time spent on auditing and surveillance and the need for impartiality.

A vital aspect of impartiality is the requirement that certification bodies may not act as consultants to their clients, but always remember that certification bodies have a pecuniary interest in their clients. You are their client.

Where the same organisation has both advised an organisation on the development and implementation of its management system and then assessed it as satisfactory, the objectivity of the certification is open to serious doubt.

United Kingdom Accreditation Service, [UKAS]

UKAS is the only United Kingdom accreditation recognised by Government and it operates in strict accordance with agreed international standards and under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Trade and Industry. It is also subject to peer assessment by other recognised international accreditation bodies under the terms of a Multinational Recognition Agreement known as a MLA. Most importantly, companies who are certified by a UKAS accredited certification body, are the only ones who may display the “Crown & Tick” logo on their certificate and on their publicity material. The “Crown & Tick” logo provides visual assurance to the many purchasers who require their suppliers to hold a UKAS accredited ISO 9000 certificate, and represents the whole value of the certificate.

Non Accredited Certification

Some organisations may hold ISO  “certificates” issued by “certification bodies” who are either non-accredited or accredited by an Accreditation Service which is not recognised by the UK Government. These bodies may offer a cheaper service than a UKAS accredited certification body and usually offer a package that combines consultancy with certification. They may offer to provide their services on a “no certificate – no fee” basis, but the worth of this offer should be viewed against the fact that a certificate is rarely, if ever, refused. It is invariably received together with a quality manual which may, or may not, reflect the operations of the client company.

For an accredited certificate to be awarded, an organisation must have fully implemented the standard, which means an audit system and corresponding records must exist. Such unaccredited certification bodies rarely have got as far as auditing their clients’ systems.

This practice is contrary to the requirements of the international standard with which UKAS accredited certification bodies are required to comply. Some of these certification bodies claim to be accredited but, if they do, their accreditation will not have been granted by a UK or any Government-recognised Accreditation Service. Such Accreditation Services are not subject to any regulatory constraints and provide little or no assurance of integrity, impartiality or accountability. Neither are they legally entitled to award the “Crown & Tick” logo for display by their clients. Look for UKAS Accredited certification.

Making the Selection

We recommend that when you are ready to seek accredited certification you should:

  • Obtain a list of UKAS accredited certification bodies. (UKAS can provide information on request, or go to http://www.ukas.com/)
  • Contact at least three, describing your business and asking whether or not the certification body is accredited to provide certification services in your specific area of operations
  • Prepare a shortlist and ask for quotations
  • Make the choice

Now I’ve got the certificate, how can I use it?

Once you have it, it’s definitely worth telling customers, using it in marketing, telling prospects, and so on. ISO provide guidance on this at:

http://www.iso.org/iso/publicizing_iso9001_iso14001_certification_2010.pdf