ISO 9001 Certification
Everything You Need To Know About
Selecting an ISO 9001 Certification Body (CB) or
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
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
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.
-----> 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
3. Is the CB
qualified to audit and certify organizations in your business
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
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
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
There may be some specific fees for administration and use of CB accreditation
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
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.
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