Frequently asked questions
The Quotation & Proposal normally includes the cost of the onsite Consultancy visit, Documentation, Support & Audit. This is termed within our Quotation & Proposal as:
- Stage 1 - Pre-assessment & Consultation.
- Stage 2 – Documentation and Support.
- Stage 3 – External Audit.
Your ISO Quotation & Proposal is a fixed fee and payable in 3 easy instalments for your convenience and ease of budgeting. 1st Payment (1/3rd) on order. 2nd Payment Prior to release of your bespoke documentation and 3rd Payment Prior to your Audit or within 6 months of first visit, which ever is the soonest.
If we have several companies that require ISO certification, can these all be covered by one certificate?
Individual legal entities require separate ISO certification.
3 months comfortably, depending on how much time can be dedicated to the implementation of your chosen systems. However it has been achieved in 1 week, with some asserted effort, and has also taken some organisations over a year, due to work load commitments. It all depends on the time and resources you have available and the drive to become compliant to the standard(s). WE ALWAYS WORK AT YOUR PACE.
The person(s) nominated by your company to implement the ISO standard(s) and personnel who have a good insight into your business activities overall, with the authority to report to senior management.
During a very interesting and enlightening question and answer session, your Dedicated Consultant will gather all the information required to create the key documentation for your company and its unique process. Your Dedicated Consultant will identify any gaps in your existing management system and support you in filling them.
They will be checking your operational process, for instance, to see that your orders are managed in such a way that at each stage orders are traceable and that there is accountability throughout the process so you are able to pin point where, how and why things have gone wrong – if they do go wrong. Also they will be looking for several mandatory procedures that are required to ensure conformity to the standards. Don't worry if you haven't got them in place. It's our job to do that for you. For example, do you have a complaints procedure in place and how does it work?
Stage 1 is usually completed on one day. However, it can take longer depending on the size of the organisation and number of standards required. We will give you a clearer idea of this time when we book your appointments.
No, your Dedicated Consultant will do this for you along with all required mandatory procedures and will also supply you with any forms you may need. All this is emailed to you after the Pre-Assessment stage.
There is telephone and email support from your Dedicated Consultant throughout the whole process. You also have full support from the office team at UKICM. Remember: If you're not sure just ask. No question is a Silly Question!
As part of our Dedicated Support Service we will occasionally contact you to offer support with the implementation of your systems and give clear guidance and encouragement to get the job done.
Yes, we only use Independent Auditors from Accredited Certification Bodies, primarily ASCB(E), AIUK and occasionally UKAS if required.
Yes, and this will be verifiable on line from anywhere in the world.
Consultancy companies do not become Accredited. This is the requirement for any bona-fide Certification body. However, UKICM's auditing arm is accredited to AIUK.
The Independent Auditor will check your company's documentation and ensure the processes you have implemented are working appropriately. They will also look for evidence to back this up including internal audits, management meeting minutes, training logs and supplementary records etc.
In the unlikely event that there are any major non-conformances, you will agree a set amount of time with the Auditor to correct them. As before, UKICM will be on hand to help you do this….Remember you are never alone. Once sorted you will email the required evidence to the Certification Body for review and the audit will be complete and certification issued.
You are required to keep your chosen systems maintained from year to year to prove you are working to the standard. Regular up-keep is simple, if time is allotted, and will ensure on going mandatory Surveillance Audits go well.
You are not obliged to stay with any one certification body. However once you have passed the Certification Audit it is very rare for organisations to swap.
Certification is the official document that an organisation receives from a bona fide certification body to evidence the conformity to the standard of the organisations systems.
An organisation gaining Certification should be entered onto a 'Register of Certified Organisations' for the time frame of the Certification. This is called 'Registration'. These details should be available for any enquirers to see to verify that the Certification is genuine.
ISO is the acronym for The International Organisation for Standardisation.
ISO is the world's largest developer and publisher of International Standards and is made up of a network of 163 national standards institutes from around the world with one member from each participating country. ISO Central Secretariat is based in Geneva Switzerland, where it coordinates the systems. The UK member is the British Standards Institute or BSI as they are more commonly known.
'Because "International Organisation for Standardisation" would have different acronyms in different languages ("IOS" in English, "OIN" in French for Organisation Internationale de Normalisation), its founders decided to give it also a short, all-purpose name. They chose "ISO", derived from the Greek isos, meaning "equal". Whatever the country, whatever the language, the short form of the organisation's name is always ISO.'
ISO is a non-governmental organisation and is designed to act as an impartial conduit between the public and private sectors. This ensures ISO is able to reach a rounded consensus on most out-comes that meet both the needs of business and the wider requirements of society.
A very common mistake (when people are talking about getting certified to an ISO standard) is the use of the phrase 'ISO Certification' which implies that ISO offer Certification.
This is in fact a myth and one strongly challenged by ISO.
You may be surprised to know that there is actually NO such thing as 'ISO' Certification.
- ISO do not issue any Certification.
- ISO do not publish any Certification.
- ISO do not recognise any Certifications.
- ISO do not recognise or recommend any Certification Bodies.
Despite this fact, many Certification Bodies appear to offer 'ISO Certification' and choose not to argue or explain the inaccuracy to uninformed enquirers, due to the confusion it can cause when challenged.
Certification Bodies provide Certification to verify that organisations systems have been independently and impartially assessed and audited and meet the defined requirements of the chosen ISO Standards.
Find out more about ISO at www.iso.org
Did you know that 'ISO Accreditation' does not actually exist? What people really mean is 'ISO Certification'.
Oddly enough there is actually no such thing as 'ISO Certification'. Nevertheless many Consultants and Certification Bodies will still offer 'ISO Certification' and choose not to explain this very common misnomer to potential clients through risk of confusion.
ISO do not issue, authorise the issue of, or recognise any type of certification.
What we are in fact looking at is a 'Certificate' from an Independent Qualified Third Party which states that your 'ISO Systems' have been Independently and impartially audited by a Qualified Auditor and have met the requirements of the particular ISO Standards in place.
In most situations this is all that is required in order for an organisation to prove to their clients that their management systems have been externally and impartially audited.
In some circumstances existing clients or potential clients might request that both Audit and Certification are provided by an Accredited Certification Body, which has itself been independently audited, certified and accredited by one of the only three recognised UK Accreditation Bodies which are AIUK, ASCB(e) and UKAS.
The Certification an Accredited Certification Body holds is called 'Accreditation' which is the qualification of the Certification Body which assures you that they are a fit and proper organisation to carry out audits and provide valued and accepted certification. Gaining bona fide accreditation from AIUK, ASCB(e) or UKAS is a major achievement for any Certification Body and takes a considerable amount of time and has substantial costs attached to it.
This 'Accreditation' is achieved when the Certification Body is able to demonstrate by means of External and Impartial audit by AIUK, ASCB(e) or UKAS that they work to the requirements of ISO 17021:2011, which is the International Standard for 'Accredited Certification Bodies'.
Remember: Certification Bodies get 'Accredited' by Accreditation Bodies like AIUK, ASCB(e) or UKAS and Certification Bodies issue 'Certification' to organisations they have audited.
ISO Management Standards are recognised internationally and used as a respected and trusted bench mark for the standardising of service, process, regulation and production all over the world. Management Standards are based on the established and verified 'Best-Practices' implemented by many of the most successful organisations in the world. The five most recognised Management Standards that are implimented today are:
- ISO 9001: 2008 Quality Management
- ISO 14001:2004 Environmental Management
- ISO 27001:2005 Information Security Management
- ISO 22000:2005 Food Safety Management
- OHSAS 18001:2007 Occupational Health & Safety Management
The OHSAS 18001 is not an ISO Standard, however in the absence of an established ISO Health and Safety Management Standard, it is to all intents and purposes the most widely used international recognised standard covering Health and Safety we have.
ISO Management Standards such as ISO 9001 are general and not linked to any legislation. Therefore they are not mandatory. However, they are proven 'best practice' for any organisation wishing to consistently and successfully manage their operations to the highest level. Organisations that implement well managed systems, consistently provide high quality products and services for their customers, continually improving and adapting to ever changing market forces.
Independent research clearly demonstrates that the successful and well managed implementation of ISO Standards into an organisation gives a clear and measurable 'Competitive Advantage' over same sector competition. Other benefits include:
- Improved Customer Satisfaction through better communication and service.
- Better Customer Retention due to heightened confidence in ability to maintain service to a high standard.
- Lower Insurance and greatly reduced Litigation Costs due to properly managed systems and insurer confidence.
- Lower running costs due to more efficient systems and staff.
- Less Wastage both human factor and physical waste due to better management.
- Better Trained and Retained Staff due to raised confidence and moral brought about by improved management styles.
- More Sales and Profits brought about by more confident buyers, ability to tender and recommendation from existing clients.
Most Government, Public Sector Agency and Local Authority Tenders and Contracts now demand ISO Management Standard Certification as a qualifying factor, often even before you are able to tender. The same is now very common for most private Sector Supply Chains.
Gain Access to a £230 Billion plus per year Marketplace
Certification to ISO management standards enables companies to meet Tender and Contract requirements with Government, Public Sector Agency and the Local Authority sector. The Public/Government Sector is now worth approximately £236 Billion p.a. in the UK alone!
The Government is now actively encouraging SMEs (Small to Medium sized Enterprises) to tender for work in this marketplace and launched its 'Backing Small Business' initiative on 1st November 2010. The Government has set its aspiration to target 25% of its £236 Billion p.a. marketplace to be reserved for SME suppliers.
If a company needs to demonstrate conformity by means of Certification they are required to have their Management Systems externally and impartially audited by a bonafide Certification Body in line with ISO 17021:2006/11 on a regular basis. The frequency of this is determined by the Certification Body and based on the size and activities of the organisation. However an initial certification audit and annual surveillance audits are usual for most SME's.
Organisations are expected to internally audit all the key components of their Management Systems, at least once a year, in line with the standard requirements.
ISO's official description of itself includes the following extracts:
'If there were no standards, we would soon notice. Standards make an enormous contribution to most aspects of our lives - although very often, that contribution is invisible. It is when there is an absence of standards that their importance is brought home.
The International Standards which ISO develops are very useful. They are useful to industrial and business organisations of all types, to governments and other regulatory bodies, to trade officials, to conformity assessment professionals, to suppliers and customers of products and services in both public and private sectors, and, ultimately, to people in general in their roles as consumers and end users.
ISO standards contribute to making the development, manufacturing and supply of products and services more efficient, safer and cleaner. They make trade between countries easier and fairer. They provide governments with a technical base for health, safety and environmental legislation. They aid in transferring technology to developing countries. ISO standards also serve to safeguard consumers, and users in general, of products and services – as well as to make their lives simpler.
For example, as purchasers or users of products, we soon notice when they turn out to be of poor quality, do not fit, are incompatible with equipment we already have, are unreliable or dangerous. When products meet our expectations, we tend to take this for granted. We are usually unaware of the role played by standards in raising levels of quality, safety, reliability, efficiency and interchangeability - as well as in providing such benefits at an economical cost.
Although ISO's principal activity is the development of technical standards, ISO standards also have important economic and social repercussions. ISO standards make a positive difference, not just to engineers and manufacturers for whom they solve basic problems in production and distribution, but to society as a whole.
When things go well - for example, when systems, machinery and devices work well and safely - then it is because they conform to standards. The organisation responsible for many thousands of the standards which benefit society worldwide is ISO.'
An 'Internal Audit' is one that is undertaken by any company internally, usually by an appointed staff member and sometimes by someone specifically engaged to carry out audits. This is all part of the continual improvement practices widely associated with most standards. It also ensures that Management Systems are tested for compliance against the requirements of the chosen ISO Standards on a regular basis. Although Internal Audits should be undertaken at least once each year, it is best practice to use the Internal Audit Schedule to spread the audits throughout the year. As with external audits, internal auditors are NOT allowed to audit their own work.
External Audits are carried out by an Auditor or team of auditors from an external certification body to ensure total impartiality and to test Management Systems against the requirements of the chosen ISO Standards.
Companies decide on external certification of their management systems for a variety of reasons. Primarily this is to gain an advantage over their industry competition. Certification in turn, usually leads to more contracts, sales and profit.
Secondly certification enhances a company's reputation with customers both existing and potential and instills confidence in both suppliers and staff.
Accredited Audit and Certification of an organisations management systems, is a fast and cost-effective way to boost any business, resulting in growth, sales and more profits.
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