ISO Certification: Frequently Asked Questions
What is ISO certification?
ISO certification is a certificate given by a certification body which shows that an organisation has implemented and is using an internationally recognised management system.
ISO certification tells a businesses clients and senior management that the organisation wishes to maintain a structured framework in order meet goals. Being ISO certified ensures that a business is following best practices, operating efficiently, and functions as excellent business tender – giving clients clear confidence in who they are working with.
Whichever ISO standard is chosen – whether it be Information Security Management (ISO 27001), Quality Management (ISO 9001), or any ISO standards – by implementing a standard, a business will be enabled to improve efficiency, effectiveness, and will look more attractive to existing and prospective clients.
How long does certification take?
The speed of implementation is driven by…
1. The client’s commitment and available resources.
2. The size and complexity of the organisation.
3. The policies and procedures already in place.
Many certification bodies require at least 3 months for the management system to have been running, in order to have enough genuine records to audit.
The date of the final certification audit can depend on the availability of the external auditors, so it is an advantage to start talking to the certification body in advance.
What happens after certification?
Your business and a certification body will agree on a “certification cycle”. This involves a re-certification and interim surveillance audits.
For example, an ISO 27001 Information Security Management system is usually re-certified every 3 years, with interim surveillance audits every 6 months from certification.
What is UKAS?
“The United Kingdom Accreditation Service is the sole national accreditation body recognised by government to assess (against internationally agreed standards) organisations that provide certification, testing, inspection and calibration services.”
For more information, visit: https://www.ukas.com/accreditation/about/
Why choose a UKAS accredited certification body?
UKAS Accreditation offers the assurance of operating to recognised standards, at a consistent quality.
Using UKAS accredited certification bodies ensures your certification will be internationally recognised and accepted.
Is Assent a certification body?
Assent are a team of consultants who provide you with the guidance, knowledge, and materials needed to achieve your certification – we are not a certification body. We do, however, assist you with choosing a certification body for your certification.
What if we have an accident, incident or complaint?
Risk can not be eliminated, only reduced and an audit is a sampling process.
Auditors understand this and if they do come across an inconsistency, they may extend their sampling to establish if it is a “major break down of the management system” or a rare occurrence.
Don’t forget, auditors will be watching what is happening in your organisation while they are there, so it’s important that you deal with any day to day issues appropriately.
Could we fail the Audit?
Yes – companies can and have failed their certification audit. However, if you have utilised a consultant to help implement the system, and followed their advice – this is very unlikely.
Remember it’s in no-ones interest for a company to fail an audit, so listen to your consultant and the external auditors.
What is the Difference between Major and Minor non-conformance?
Auditors can raise non-conformances against the standard or the process/procedures of your organisation.
A minor non-conformance will be noted if a deficiency has been found, providing it hasn’t shown a serious break down in the system.
The auditor will set a deadline for any minor non-conformances to be corrected – and may require some evidence of this before awarding a certificate.
A major non-conformance is more serious and will certainly lead to the application for certification to be refused. These usually occur when an aspect required by the standard has not been implemented, or it has not been implemented to the extent required by the standard.
How can an ISO consultant help me?
Our ISO consultants bring the following benefits:
- Intimate knowledge of the standard.
- Experience of how other organisations have implemented the standard.
- Experience of non-compliances raised at other audits.
- Knowledge of how the certification bodies work.