A common question from our customers is why they should use a UKAS approved accreditor for ISO standards so here's just a few of the main reasons.
Firstly, what is UKAS?
UKAS stands for United Kingdom Accreditation Service and is appointed by the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) which is a sister organisation to the International Standards Organisation (ISO). In other countries, there are other bodies – ANAB in the US for instance.
There is an accreditation standard - ISO17024 – and this governs the bodies that give full certification to the ISO series of standards – 9001, 14001, 18001 etc. UKAS are there to ensure that the company that accredits your company is reliable and that they are working to an agreed standard themselves.
What’s the advantage of using a UKAS approved accreditor?
The main advantage is that you have the full assurance that your company is properly assessed by persons who can make qualified judgments on your company’s quality management system. Not only do you have this reassurance, but so do your customers. In some instances, a non UKAS approved certificate will not be recognised - government bodies, some areas of NHS, large companies, companies where quality is critical etc.
Why would I want to use a non-UKAS approved creditor?
It’s nearly always down to price, and the ease of getting certification. Advertisements abound for ‘fixed-price, guaranteed’ certification. The system is written, consultation given and the certificate awarded by the same organisation. This does not comply with ISO17024. In nearly every case, the certificate is awarded after the first audit, so long as you’ve paid the bill!
Is it really that bad?
Well, it can be! I have attended an audit where the auditor came in, never moved out of the room, observed two things which he said showed the company was continuously improving, chatted for an hour, got his paperwork out and made a few ticks on it, and then assured the owner that the certificate would be sent as soon as the money was in his bank. Hardly what I call certification!
On the other hand, by going for a UKAS approved accreditation company, you have the assurance that you have had a genuine third-party appraisal of your company.
Where does a company like Qualiform come in?
Qualiform is a consultancy which can write your manual with all the forms (mostly electronic these days) to help you comply with the standard. We also help companies in the implementation of the standard and in post-certificate maintenance of it. But, we do not issue certificates!