FAQ

1. What is ISO 9001?
ISO 9001 is a quality management system that can be integrated into any business. It is focused on ensuring the business delivers a consistent level of quality to its customers by having well defined and regularly reviewed processes and procedures. The system fully integrates within the existing business procedures and becomes part of the culture within the organisation. Eventually a business will not perform a task to conform to the ISO 9001, it will perform the task for the good of the business. The system covers eight main business principles which are:

  • Customer focus
  • Leadership
  • Involvement of people
  • Process approach
  • System approach to management
  • Continual improvement
  • Factual approach to decision making
  • Mutually beneficial supplier relationships

 

2. What is ISO Certification?
ISO 9001 is a quality management system that can be integrated into any business. It is focused on ensuring the business delivers a consistent level of quality to its customers by having well defined and regularly reviewed processes and procedures. The system fully integrates within the existing business procedures and becomes part of the culture within the organisation. Eventually a business will not perform a task to conform to the ISO 9001, it will perform the task for the good of the business. The system covers eight main business principles which are:

  • Customer focus
  • Leadership
  • Involvement of people
  • Process approach
  • System approach to management
  • Continual improvement
  • Factual approach to decision making
  • Mutually beneficial supplier relationships

 

3. Why would I want ISO Certification?
ISO certification is a statement to your stakeholders, employees and senior management that the business wishes to operate to a set framework in order to achieve its company objectives. Be this customer satisfaction objectives, production objectives or environmental objectives etc. By setting yourselves the task of maintaining an external certification you are proving the company’s commitment to these objectives as well as increasing the credibility and customer confidence in the brand / service or product.For example by running a quality management system, a company can stay in control of its processes and procedures, ensure if anything does go wrong it is rectified quickly, efficiently and to the satisfaction of the customer. It can also ensure a smooth line of communication between employees, suppliers and customers at all times.

Many public and private sector tenders request ISO certification as either a pre-requisite to moving to the next stage or as a filter to remove companies from the tender process. By achieving the ISO certification that your customers give weight to, ensures that you are on a ‘level playing field’ with your potential competitors and improves your chances of successfully tendering. Many companies we work with report a major internal efficiency improvement which allows them to achieve greater results both in a sales and operational capacity.

 

4. What does ISO certification cost?

ISO Certification costs vary dependent on the size of an organisation and the level to which the company is already run with regards to processes and procedures. If you decide to implement more than one standard at the same time, there are some preferential fees available. We are a fixed fee organisation, which means once we have met you to discuss your requirements and sent you a formal quotation, this fee is then set. We will not charge you any extra then what is specified, so that you know from the outset your costs and the payment method.

5. How long does it take to achieve ISO certification?

We aim for a 8-10 week delivery period, but again this can vary from organisation to organisation. We will never delay the process, however we understand that things can happen that may mean you require a small delay. We will accommodate this where possible; however for those who are looking to achieve the certifications as soon as possible, we will endeavour to ensure you obtain your certification within our standard timescales.

After the quotation has been accepted and the deposit payment has been received we offer all of our clients a letter that you can send to your potential clients or include with tenders, to confirm that you have entered the process and that you will be fully certified within 8-10 weeks. This is normally sufficient to move forward with a tender process. This can then be followed up by an announcement letter stating that you have achieved the ISO certification.

6. How do I obtain ISO certification?

Keep in mind that no two companies are exactly alike, and no two companies will have the exact same process to get registered and certified.

Basically, there will be four major steps in your ISO certification process.

1. Write documentation.
You’ll need a written quality manual, certain written procedures, and probably some forms. Some records will have to be kept. Your documentation will have to meet the requirements of the ISO quality standard. It will also have to fit your company’s quality goals. Your quality documentation says what you do, how you do it, and provides proof that you do it. You must be able to demonstrate that you are continuously improving your quality system as well as your product or service, and your customers’ satisfaction.

2. Training.
All of your people will require some training. The amount of training is dependent on each individual’s responsibilities.

3. Practice and live with your quality system for a few months.
Undoubtedly you will find that some changes need to be made. Keep records in accordance with your quality system. After a few months your quality system and your people should be ready for the registration audit.

4. Get audited.
The number of auditors needed, and the time involved to conduct a registration audit will vary according to the size and complexity of your company. During an ISO audit, the auditor(s) will examine your records and will talk with your people. It is very important that your staff is properly trained and that your records are in order. Auditors write up problems as “nonconformances”. Nonconformances can be “major” or “minor”. Auditors can also write up “observations”.

A major nonconformance will cause you not to get certified to the ISO standard. Minor nonconformances may or may not prevent your certification, it all depends on the number and severity of your nonconformances. Auditors have a fair amount of discretion in what they write up, and whether or not you will get certified on your first try.
Observations will not cause you to lose your certification, they are usually suggestions by the auditor for how you might be able to make improvements to your quality system.

7. What is ISO accreditation and is it different to certification?

It is important to understand that ISO certification and ISO accredited certification are two different things. ISO accreditation or ISO accredited certification is when a company has achieved an ISO and / or a BS standard by a certification body that is accredited by UKAS or equivalent.Every country has its own version of UKAS (i.e. for Ireland its INAB) and although they are not akin to government, they act as the governing body for certification companies.

Please note that there is only one true accreditation body in each country and any other forms of ‘accreditation bodies’ maybe be misleading. In most countries accreditation is a choice and not an obligation. BSI and the International Organisation for Standardisation themselves actually state that ‘the fact that a certification body is not accredited does not mean that it is not a reputable organisation, for example a certification body operating nationally in a highly specific sector might enjoy such a good reputation that it does not feel there is an advantage for it to go to the expense of being accredited’.

Whilst neither may be viewed by the majority of clients as better than the other, there are a few major differences that are worth being aware of. The main difference being an accredited certification body is unable to implement the systems into the business during the certification process the way we or any other certification body is able to. They can only perform the functions of an assessment / audit body and must not have any involvement in the set-up process. This can therefore mean having to employ a company such as ourselves as the consultant to implement the system and have the accredited body in the certify it.

This not only adds additional expense to the client but also can delay the time it takes to achieve the certification. On the other hand, not only can a certification body act as the consultant to implement the systems into the company, they can certify the company once compliance has been met and then offer support and guidance throughout the year to ensure the company maintains its certification and most importantly uses the systems to the benefit of the company on an on-going basis.

8. What is an audit?
An audit is the process by which a company shows evidence of working to the required system and this is a compulsory element of the ISO / BS systems. A qualified auditor will attend your premises in order to assess your management system against the ISO/BS Standard that you are certified to, and will request to see evidence resulting from the companies processes and procedures to ensure the system is being used and maintained on a regular basis.The auditor will typically compose a report, analysing your management system and the use of, against the clauses of the standard. ISO Quality Services Ltd will also provide you with recommendations for improvement that will have been agreed with you to assist you to drive the system forward to enable continuous improvement, thus getting the most out of the standard/s.

 

9. Why do I need to have an audit?
Auditing is a required element of the ISO/BS Standards. It is the proof that the system you have implemented is fit for purpose and continually improving. It is the regular check that you are managing the system/s consistently.The guidance that you will receive at the internal review stage will help you to effectively manage your management systems and remain compliant to the relevant standard/s. The auditor will help you to identify which aspects of the management system require improvement; this will provide you with the ability to develop and enhance the management system through a set of focused action points in a step by step approach.

 

10. Why does ISO Quality Services offer internal reviews and validation audits each year?
From experience we know that by leaving a client from point of presentation until the first validation meeting at month twelve, 9 out of 10 clients will delay completing the majority of the work until month eleven. They then find the validation process time consuming, stressful and therefore sometimes don’t see the real value the system can add to the business. By visiting you on a more regular basis than some of our competitors, our clients have indicated that they feel more supported and more confident about being on track to be re-certificated at the end of the year. It ensures the process is less stressful as they have the time to iron out any concerns in a health check style review session.We feel the 6 month internal review allows clients to improve their understanding of what is expected whilst allowing the company to enjoy significant improvements to their business. As the system matures over time these sessions then allow the company to delve deeper into the management system and ensure it is always put to good use. The client therefore does not view certification as a ‘tick box’ exercise require to meet the demands of current and potential customers, but as a valuable business tool, that through the on-going support from our expert consultants, assists the company to realise the real benefit of having an effective business management system.