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ISO 9001 Certification

Everything You Need To Know About Selecting an ISO 9001 Certification Body (CB) or Registrar

Auditing is an art that is subject to variation among auditors and Certification Bodies (CB’s). Auditor interpretation of requirements and their consistency may have a significant impact on your organization. You need to understand their position on issues important to your business. You want auditors that are objective, ethical and pragmatic and a CB with a reputation for providing a high standard of expertise, support and flexibility to their clients. The basis of any long-term relationship with a CB will certainly hinge on the degree of understanding and comfort level you have with your CB.

Partnering for management system certification with a technically competent service-oriented CB will help your organization realize tangible benefits such as:

· Becoming more cost-effective and efficient
· Enhancing customer satisfaction
· Improving internal communications
· Improving product and process quality 
· Becoming more competitive on the national and global market

Therefore, due care and diligence must be taken in selecting a CB.  Your selection process should consider the following factors:

1. What is a Certification Body?
A certification body (CB), also known as a registrar, is a third-party organization contracted to evaluate the conformance of your organization's management system to the requirements of the appropriate standard(s) and issue a certificate of conformance when warranted.

2. Is the CB accredited?
Accreditation refers to the formal recognition of the CB by an Accreditation Body (AB) that the CB is competent to perform management system (e.g., ISO 9001:2000) certifications of organizations in specified business sectors. In simple terms, accreditation is certification of the CB itself. CB’s are indeed ‘certified’  conforming to an ISO standard (ISO Guide 62) very similar to ISO 9001. Such certification provides assurance to your organization that the CB is following necessary protocols and adhering to sound business practice. Make sure your CB is accredited!

In the United States, the national AB is the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB). It is an independent non-profit private organization. The ANAB and other credible AB’s (in other countries) are signatories to the IAF (International Accreditation Forum), which provides oversight of AB’s.

The IAF itself is an international and voluntary association of AB’s whose purpose is to enhance AB competency and promote the recognition of accredited certificates internationally, thereby reducing business risk and adding value to organizations, certified by accredted CB’s.
The ISO organization has no authority to control such accreditation and certification activities. It does, however, facilitate the development of standards and guidelines covering various aspects of accreditation/certification/conformity assessment activities, for AB’s and CB’s. Certificates issued by accredited CB’s are known as “accredited certificates”,  and are perceived on the market as having increased credibility and recognition. This chain of oversight is detailed in the figure below.


IAF -----> AC ------> CB ------> Registered Organizations

Most organizations simply need to know if the CB they're considering is accredited by ANAB. ANAB's Web site (www.anab.org) shows the accreditation status of CB’s, including whether the CB’s accreditation has been suspended or withdrawn.

3. Is the CB qualified to audit and certify organizations in your business category?
CB’s must define the scope of their certification activity in order to be accredited by ANAB. ANAB provides a list of 40 recognized IAF scope (areas of economic activity) categories on their Web site under the "Advisories" header. If the CB isn't qualified for your organization's category of business, there's no sense in evaluating them any further.

If a CB doesn't have specific competency related to a recognized scope, they aren't allowed to grant certification against it. This ensures that accredited CB’s understand the technologies, processes and industries of the organizations they audit.
Ask the accredited CB to provide you with a copy of their accreditation ‘scope statement’ to quickly determine what industry categories their accreditation allows them to audit.

4. Have you checked the CB’s reputation and references?
Make sure your registrar is well-established and its name is known and recognized in the marketplace. Be sure the registrar has made a significant investment in its management system through accreditations and that it continues to invest in its technical expertise. Useful sources for such research include ANAB; Quality Digest and Quality Systems Update.

You'll also want to obtain references from selected CB’s and check them out. What are they saying about the CB? Real customers will be able to provide some of the best information about a registrar. When you interview the customers, ask them what they like about the registrar as well as what they don't like. Also ask if they ever had a problem of any sort and, if so, what was done about it.

5. What are the CB fees for the entire certification program?
The cost of the CB’s services will depend on the size and complexity of your organization; the scope of QMS registration and the number of locations to be included.

You need to clarify and obtain a detailed breakdown of the typical 3 year registration term. The best way to do this is on a spreadsheet that subjects all CB’s to the same criteria. Ask CB’s to provide details of application fees; administration fees; accreditation mark fee; fees for documentation review, pre-assessment audit, certification audit; all surveillance audits during the three-year cycle and any travel and related expenses. Clarify what are essential and optional services.

Travel expenses, such as airfare and hotels could amount to a significant portion of a registrar's costs. These can be cut dramatically if the registrar has qualified auditors available locally. A local auditor may also allow more flexibility in scheduling. Make sure of local availability and negotiate for no travel expense.
Basically, you are billed for CB audit team’s time in performing audit and reporting services. The rates may range from US $1,000 to $2000 per day, depending upon whether travel and other expenses are included.
There may be some specific fees for administration and use of CB accreditation marks.

While the number of audit days is determined by IAF guidelines, review how the CB has determined the number of audit days needed for your organization. The calculation is based on the size of your organization; complexity of products and processes and headcount within the scope of your QMS. Make sure you communicate organization details relevant to the scope of your QMS, otherwise your certification program costs may be overstated.

The key is to evaluate all CB’s against the same pricing criteria and eliminate any surprises. Uncover potential hidden costs. Ask about: frequency of visits; any penalty fees to change audit dates; costs for travel time and/or administrative costs to be added to incurred expenses; fees for the registrar's use of the marks; and fees to terminate the contract. Make sure quotes address your questions. Learn about the registrars' payment terms. Some require payment in advance of the services.

Keep in mind that while pricing is important, it should best be used as a tie-breaker, if all other factors are equal among the CB’s under evaluation.

 Call us today at 905-593-8867 or email us at artjlewis@gmail.com for a no obligation review of your specific needs      

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ISO 9001 Certification

Understanding ISO 9001:2008