Developing a management system based on an internationally recognised standard can be challenging enough, but then how to choose a certification body to ultimately get your management system certified?
Atlas Certification has put together a range of points which organisations seeking certification should consider when choosing a certification body, we hope that you will find this useful.
Consider whether or not your certificate needs to be accredited by a recognised accreditation body, for example: UKAS, Dakks, Accredia, etc. These national bodies are typically appointed by local government and form part of the Multilateral Agreement with the International Accreditation Forum (IAF).
A natural way to determine if your certification needs to be accredited is to talk to your clients and prospective clients. It may well be a prerequisite that your organisation must have accredited certification.
When asking for quotes from certification bodies, ask them about their accreditation status. You might also want to verify this by visiting the associated accreditation body website to check that the certification body is listed as being accredited by them.
Also read our page about accreditation.
There are very few organisations where price is not a concern, but price will certainly vary with different certification bodies.
Most certification bodies, especially accredited certification bodies, will follow specific internationally recognised requirements to calculate audit time and on this basis calculate a price. Day rates, certification fees, application fees, cancellation fees, expenses, etc. are examples of how a certification body may set out their pricing structure.
Ensure that you are clear as to what is included and what is extra when choosing a certification body.
Some certification bodies will offer a ‘fixed price’ plan which often means that everything is included, no surprises! Other certification bodies offer a balanced annual fee which means (apart from some inflatory increases) you pay the same every year.
It’s good to shop around! Click here to get a quote from Atlas Certification.
So how can you decide if a certification body is going to provide a good quality service for your organisation? The first thing to bear in mind is that certification bodies are ‘service providers’, they are not ‘regulators’. You can ask for references and even ask for KPIs to determine whether or not the certification body is right for your organisation.
As well as accreditation status and price (as mentioned above) here are a range of variables which you might consider when deliberating the quality of a certification body, including:
Perhaps you have sites in other regions or countries where the certification body may need to visit. It can push up the cost of certification if the certification body doesn’t have a local office.
Also, if the certification body charges extra for expenses, you might want to consider how far away they are and how much they’ll be charging in expenses.
Some certification bodies provide a dedicated account manager, not just an auditor. This can prove very important when you have questions and queries about your management system certification in between audits.
Management system and auditor training courses for your staff can prove to be expensive. If the certification body of your choice also offers training, it’s worthwhile negotiating the costs of courses at the same time as the cost of certification.
What should you expect from an auditor? First and foremost an auditor’s target should be to seek evidence of conformance and identify opportunities for improvement within your organisation.
Auditors should know about your type of business or sector and their questions focussed on your operational processes (as well as the clauses of the standard being audited).
Don’t be afraid to ask your prospective certification body about their procedure for selecting competent auditors. If you want an auditor to contribute to the improvement of your organisation, then he or she should understand the technical aspects of your business.
If your organisation has multiple sites (perhaps internationally), then your certification body auditor(s) should visit at least a sample of those sites (depending on the standard). When reviewing a quotation from a certification body, ensure that any sites are being considered in the quotation.
If your certification is provided by an accredited certification body (see Accreditation above) then you may choose to transfer your certification to another certification body.
The new certification body will handle the process of the transfer including communication with the existing certification body. Of course, please consider any terms and conditions which your organisation might have agreed with the existing certification body which might result in financial penalties or obligations. Your existing certification body will be able to advise you about this.
We have chosen UKAS to become our accreditation body.
We offer a fixed price plan. This means that there are no surprises and that all expenses are included.
Quality of service
We operate internationally so we can be competitive with geographical location audits.
We provide a dedicated account manager.
All of our certified clients are entitled to attend public training courses provide by us on an allocation basis.
We maintain a competence procedure which requires auditors to be competent for the standard and the technical area.
Our auditors receive stringent training to ensure that they are seeking objective evidence of conformity and opportunities for improvement during all audits.
We conform to accreditation requirements and therefore apply a recognised sampling approach depending on the standard.
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