How to choose a quality standards certifier
The subject of how to choose a quality standards certifier should be straight forward. As with choosing anything you need high performance and high standards from, look for the mark of accreditation. Official, accredited quality standards certifiers in the UK always display the UKAS mark of accreditation.
Under the ISO system, there are appointed overseers of the ISO approach in different parts of the world. In the UK, the appointed body is UKAS (UK Accreditation Service). For all the standards that Qualitation covers, except ISO 17025 which is accredited directly by UKAS, this means that for a bona fide, fully authorised, ISO standard, it needs to be certified by a UKAS accredited certifier. There are over 200 of these quality standard certifiers in the UK alone – some are 1 man bands, and others have over 30,000 people employed around the world.
What to look out for
Be aware that there are organisations that offer to certify your ISO system that are not accredited to UKAS. This does not necessarily mean that they are not viable certifiers if they have been accredited by an alternative ISO approved accreditation body. In some instances, however, the certification body may have created its own accreditation body to self-accredit. This is not illegal, however it is disapproved of by ISO and UKAS.
Why choose a UKAS accredited quality standards certifier?
Given that it is not illegal for a certifier to create its own accreditation body, you will not be breaking the law, or contravening any standards, if you chose a certifier that has effectively self-accredited. However, there are particular benefits to choosing an official UKAS accredited certifier:
- There are indications that public sector organisations prefer (to the point of exclusion of all others) to use UKAS accredited certifiers of their suppliers’ ISO systems.
- Global recognition of the UKAS mark of accreditation means your company could have greater success overseas.
- If you rely on the globally recognised brand of the certifier (rather than that of UKAS),you may find yourself restricted to larger and often less flexible, more costly certifier choices, for example: BSi, SGS, BM Trada, Lloyds, DNV etc. It is the smaller, more flexible certifiers (accredited by UKAS) that can offer the better prices.
Help to make the right choice of quality standards certifier
If you want to keep costs lower, to get the process carried out faster or at short notice (UKAS typically requires a notice period of six months when booking an ISO 17025 assessment visit) then, with the exception of the ISO 17025 standard, there are other certifiers which you may not have heard of, but which are just as UKAS accredited as the larger players. We can assist in walking you through the process as part of our offering.
1. The process of quality standard certification