From our experience businesses pursuing ISO 9001, ISO 27001, ISO 14001 or OHSAS 18001 do it for one of 3 reasons: • To fulfil tender or customer requirements and win new work • To drive Business or Process improvement • Both of the above I would guestimate from our experience 20% of businesses pursue certification to solely fulfil tender or customer requirements and win new work. A similar percentage would use their certification project to focus mainly on driving Business or Process improvement. The bulk of businesses want the certification to win new work but engage with the process of attaining certification, to benefit from both Business & process improvements. For any Business considering implementing the standards we would always ask that they consider Return on Investment. Firstly obtain a costing for the certification route you think could best help you improve in your operations & best serve a positive outcome in gaining your chosen certification. See previous post for various methods of attaining certification. The main financial benefit will be the additional tenders it qualifies you for & the extra work it may bring in – ask your potential clients if it could give you a more favourable outcome when bidding for work. Benefits outside of this most obvious financial reward are normally found in the project phase & can be – ISO 9001 Project Phase • Enables you to examine your current operating processes & identify areas for improvement • Pushes you to rationalise & define systematic processes that ensures all are “singing off the same hymn sheet” within the business • Clearly defined business processes support company growth “before things get out of control” ISO 27001 Project Phase • Ensures you identify all information stored within the company & it’s importance to your business • Systematically guides you through risk assessing the threats & vulnerabilities to the information you hold • Ensures you put in adequate controls to protect your information and ultimately your business ISO 14001 Project Phase • Identifies any aspect of your business that can impact the environment • Makes you evaluate the impacts your business could have on the environment & identifies the controls needed to reduce the likelihood or prevent such impacts • Ensures an awareness of Environmental Legislation & avoids any unnecessary & “crippling” fines OHSAS 18001 Project Phase • Identifies any Hazards within your business that could impact Human Health or cause Accidents • Makes you evaluate the Risks associated with these Hazards & identifies the controls needed to reduce the likelihood of accidents or affects on Human Health • Ensures an awareness of Health and Safety Legislation, avoids any unnecessary “crippling” fines & most importantly protects both your employees and anybody else who can be affected by your work These are just a few bullet points on some of the ways certification can help your business, there are many more. So if you want any further info just get in touch. email@example.com
“Quality” being defined as the ability to deliver to pre-defined requirements – can an SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) company ever really deliver quality, with so many variables & the output being so unpredictable? At QM.UK we have tried 3 different SEO companies over the years; all at least guaranteeing they would improve our website positioning on the major search engines. Alas none delivered, but actually dropped our site in the ratings. So can an SEO Company ever achieve ISO 9001 Certification – YES, it can…. I often advise that ISO 9001 is certification of your Management System, not your product or service. Certification to the standard confirms your Management System has achieved a standard that can ensure consistency of process & quality of output. If the requirement is a Ford Fiesta you consistently deliver a Ford Fiesta, same if it is a Rolls Royce. Trouble with SEO is, even with a system in place, the output still varies! I therefore have had to change my view that ISO 9001 Certifies a company’s ability to deliver to pre-defined requirements – it can only “maximize likelihood” of a pre-defined output. For an SEO company to achieve ISO 9001 it would have to demonstrate consistency of processes and that it has the necessary tools in place to measure against planned results and make improvements where possible. It is similar for Telemarketing firms for whom we have delivered ISO 9001 UKAS Certifications. So personally I would still recommend selecting an SEO company that has ISO 9001 Certification, as it does demonstrate in a sector open to such change and variables – they at least have certified systems to measure & maximize performance, increasing the “Likelihood” of your desired outcome – ROI. Or just type SEO into Google and see how well they have optimized their own website 🙂 QM.UK
So just how much of a Benchmark is it – How Credible is ISO Certification? ISO 9001 ISO 9001 is the Quality Standard but as such the most open to controversy. This is because there is often confusion as to what “Quality” actually is. If one company produced a Ford Focus & another a Ferrari, most would regard the later as having produced the highest Quality Product. However “Quality” is defined as the ability to deliver to pre-defined requirements. Therefore if the requirements were a roomy car that did 40 mpg & could be retailed at less than £20k, the production of a Ferrari would be a very poor Quality Output. It should also be noted that ISO 9001 is certification of your Management System, not your product or service. Certification to the standard confirms your Management System has achieved a standard that can ensure consistency of product or service. What level a company sets itself to deliver is up to them and in fact Ford and Ferrari could operate to the very same Quality Management System – they just produce to different specifications. So before you right off an ISO 9001 company you have to ask, are they consistently delivering to their (or your) specification – not everybody can afford a Ferrari. ISO 27001 The Information Security Standard. This is the most current & in demand as Cyber Attacks become more frequent & companies become more aware of their vulnerabilities and the need to secure services from companies that can safeguard their information. This standard is the most reliable measure of a company’s credentials, as Information Security is more measurable and less subjective than Quality. There are 2 main parts to ISO 27001. A company has to identify all of its Information Assets, Risk Assess & Control. The other main part of ISO 27001 is a detailed list of “Control Objectives” (requirements) for which, if applicable – you must put a control in place. This makes 27001 the most measurable & auditable of standards, therefore Certification does ensure a high level of Information Security. ISO 14001 The Environmental Standard. This is a reliable measure that a company has systematic control over any possible environmental impact and has plans in place for continual improvement. A large part of this is similar to 27001 in that a company has to identify all of its Environmental Aspects rather than Information Assets, but still Risk Assesses & Controls. Environmental Objectives must also be established to where possible, continually improve environmental performance. If you feel a company claiming to be holding one of these standards is poorly performing, don’t take it on face value. Check it is a credible Certification, or that it is a certification at all. If it is a UKAS Approved Certification Body ask for their name or take it off a displayed logo and contact them asking if the company is actually ISO Registered with them. If it is in the UK and not a UKAS Certification, it’s best not taking it as verification of anything…… firstname.lastname@example.org
Time Scale varies greatly for the various ISO offerings in the Market Place, as does client requirements & expectations. The time to Certification depends on Internal Expertise, External Help, Management Commitment, Internal Resource & the Route you chose. As independent UKAS Certification is the only certification recognised by ISO & the British Government, if you choose any other route – pay your money and demand it right away. Don’t be surprised though if it costs business rather than creates. 3 main routes to UKAS Certification: 1. Internal Expertise If you have an internal member of your team who has been through the process before or is a relevant practising Quality, Information Security, Environmental or Health & Safety Mgr, he will probably be able to successfully guide you through the process. Timeframe will depend on how much experience they have of taking organisations through the process & how much commitment they get from their colleagues. Being internal the most frequent downfall is that chargeable work often tends to take priority & ISO is often put on the back burner – or seen as almost the sole responsibility of that Manager & is hard to integrate. 2. Training If you wish to proceed without an external consultant but do not have the full internal expertise to proceed, there are training courses available. We would recommend you seek UKAS Certification Bodies for these courses. The trouble is these courses are very generic & we would only recommend this route if you have a Manager or person who may just fall short. We would recommend them as refresher or top-up courses, rather than a one-stop shop to ISO Certification. Timeframe raises same concerns as previous route, only a less experienced person is likely to attract less internal commitment & their aptitude for training is less predictable. The less experienced the person is, the more likely they are to go “Belt & Braces” with their systems to ensure conformance to all the clauses. This often produces cumbersome systems costly & time consuming to maintain ongoing. 3. External Consultancy External Consultants who have several years experience of implementing systems & gaining ISO Certification should give a more predictable outcome. “Buyers Beware” – consultants can promise to meet your fast-track timeframes, but it is still less than predictable. To successfully implement a system & be able to demonstrate full integration into your working practices, there still requires internal commitment & resource. While an external consultant can produce a lean, dynamic system & guarantee a positive outcome – timeframe will still rely heavily on Internal Commitment. While at QM.UK we offer the third option, we recommend you explore all options before making a decision. QM.UK UKAS ISO 9001. ISO 27001, ISO 14001 & OHSAS 18001 Consultants
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organizations. Founded on 23 February 1947, the organization promotes worldwide proprietary, industrial and commercial standards. It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland and as of 2013 worked in 164 countries. There is only one National Standards Body recognised from each country and they in turn must be recognised by their Government. UKAS is the only ISO recognised Body in the UK. The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) is the national accreditation body for the United Kingdom, appointed by government, to assess organizations that provide certification, testing, inspection and calibration services. There are many UKAS Approved ISO Certification Bodies, the most commonly recognized being BSI & Lloyds, but there is a full list on their website Gaining UKAS Certification to an ISO Standard demonstrates a company or organization has achieved and operates to a certain standard, been verified by an independent & recognized body. Ongoing audits by the Certification Body evidences they consistently meet these standards. ISO 9001 is the internationally recognized Quality Standard. It defines the elements of organization required by a company to systematically deliver quality products, services or advice. ISO 9001 Certification is verification that you systematically deliver quality services or products. It is a benchmark for potential customers & helps you review and fine tune your own operations ongoing. ISO 27001 is the internationally recognized Information Security Management Standard. It defines the elements of control required by a company to protect all information it holds. In an ever increasing age of security awareness & media exposure of careless information handling, the protection of data is critical. Sectors such as finance, health, public and IT have become particularly sensitive. Hence, certification to the standard is increasingly winning both confidence & new contracts. ISO 14001 is the internationally recognized Environmental Standard. It defines the elements of organization required by a company to control the impact of their activities, products or services on the environment. 14001 Certification demonstrates to an increasingly aware public & business community – a commitment to minimize your impact on their environment. It gives confidence that customer’s environmental credentials & good names won’t be tarnished by their suppliers operations In general companies & organisations that can demonstrate their operational standards are UKAS certified, gain more confidence in the Market Place.
ISO 9001, ISO 14001 & ISO 27001 – UKAS ISO Assessors or ISO Consultants? There still seems to be general confusion between the Roles of the “Consultant” & the Assessor”. It is like sitting a GCSE. Teachers give you the tools and prepare you for the exam, independent & impartial examiners mark your papers. Achieve the correct mark you pass. The independent marking is key to assuring standards. For ISO 9001, ISO 27001 & ISO 14001 the consultant prepares you for a Certification Audit. This can involve documenting your compliant system, training, completing Internal Audits & general prep – The Assessor then independently & impartially performs the final audit to assess if you meet the particular standard. If so, you are certified. So Why The Confusion? Sometimes people like to maintain a Black Art in order to force you down a particular path. There are other clear reasons, these being just a few: • Non UKAS accredited Certification Bodies offer both the system & the certificate, so as a 1 Stop Shop there is no difference between Consultant & Assessor. This means there is no independent assessment & it certainly isn’t impartial – hence not recognised by the informed • Some UKAS Approved Certification Bodies offer training courses so will be unlikely to push you towards consultants as that could take away your need for a training course • Some UKAS Approved Certification Bodies advise they are “Friendly” or “Approachable” and do not advocate the use of a consultant – often because they fear a consultant would refer you to a cheaper UKAS Approved Certification Body & they would lose the work We would advise whatever route you chose get a few quotes & ensure they are quoting like for like. The 3 routes we would advise: • You already have the internal expertise to fully prepare for the UKAS Assessment – get at least 3 quotes from independent UKAS Approved Certification Bodies, listed on UKAS website • You think you are almost there but not 100% – either get a consultant to do a one-of Gap Analysis Audit, or select a training course (preferably from a UKAS Approved Cert Body, as it will give some comfort to the standard of the course). • You feel you need solid guidance as you are not familiar with the standards or have no experience in implementing them (or perhaps just don’t have the time) – select a consultant & be sure to take references. Get more than 1 quote but ensure they are quoting like for like (& don’t forget the cost of the UKAS fees or your consultants attendance on those days). If the final option is for you, you know where we are – email@example.com
ISO 9001, ISO 27001 & ISO 14001 (Based solely on the communications we receive) Currently ISO 27001 is still growing & by far the most popular of the standards. With the ever increasing publicity & awareness surrounding Cyber Attacks & now the potential of Terrorist Cyber Attacks it is no wonder. Add to this the much publicised information losses from Big Names such as Morissons, Home Depot, eBay, T Mobile, Experian etc & the trend looks to continue. ISO 9001 & ISO 14001 seem to be a little on hold as people hesitate over whether to go for the old or the newly released standards. As most UKAS Approved Cert Bodies will not be able to certify against the new standards until mid 2016 this is set to continue a little longer. For ISO 14001 it has been quiet for a while. Have our environmental consciences dampened as we concentrate on Information Security concerns? Or is the current 27001 more commercially attractive? Companies currently trending towards certification are from the IT, NHS, Banking & Insurance Sectors…. www.qmuk.co.uk
In 1994 BS 5750 was replaced by ISO 9001, not a huge leap – still a standard very much driven by procedures & many would say Bureaucracy. In 2000 the ISO 9001 standard had its biggest change, became less prescriptive & more Process Driven. This was seen by the majority as a breath of fresh air! For previous standards if you wrote a procedure & created a form for everything you did – you could easily be certified to the standards. This often made it bureaucratic, onerous, said little of how you actually managed your business & contributed even less to improving your exisisting systems. Along no doubt with many other consultancies, we have spent years convincing potential clients that the new 9001 process based systems need no longer by onerous & should not only be integral to normal good management practises, but provide a serious tool for improvement. It therefore came as a bit of a shock when I received the below email – “Do you have previous working experience of the BS5750 standards, assuming you would be the auditor, if we decided to go ahead? My manager has concerns about how slack ISO 9001 appears compared to BS5750. BS5750 is the level of standard he is looking for.” “Horses for Courses” – The difference with the new 9001 standard is that you can choose how ridged your processes need to be, the amount of procedural content that would benefit you & how much paperwork you need to generate. With BS 5750 bureaucracy was almost inevitable….current 9001 gives you both Choice & Flexibility. So although a surprise the email raised a valid point – ensure your Consultant or Quality Representative understands the level of control & flexibility your business requires.
Sometimes a good question prompts informative answers. Here are 2 I answered today regarding ISO 9001 & 27001 – Q Someone in the know recently described ISO Standards to me as “nothing more than shrink wrapped bureaucracy”. What do you think? A It depends how the systems are created. The standards are generic to cover all business types, this in itself leaves them wide open to interpretation paticularly 9001. A system made best fit for your business within the requirements will give a base for improvements, or at least the means to monitor your current performance, You have to produce evidence you meet the requirements, hence a poor consultant will produce that evidence in the form of additional “paperwork” producing “shrink wrapped bureaucracy”. Similarly an internal employee tasked with the project will as a novice, normally go “Belt and Braces” to ensure all requirements are evidenced – “shrink wrapped bureaucracy”. I’d advise select a good consultant by obtaining references. 14001 & 27001 are similar, but do not have the same impact on your business ongoing as they only address 2 specifics – Information Security & the Environment. Q In reference to Morrisons being sued by 2300 employees for losing their information – What a minefield this is! And its going to get worse – not better. What’s your take on it? A Businesses have for hundreds of years protected their information against physical theft or damage, but software has developed over a very short period of time catching many out. Most businesses have just got their heads around protecting against data loss or damage, hence the boom in Cloud Hosting. Living in an age of “Ambulance Chasers” & the impending publication of the new Data Protection Act however, businesses will soon become aware of the financial implications & hopefully get more rigorous systems & controls in place. Any questions you have ( ISO 9001 & ISO 27001, 14001 or OHSAS 18001) just email them to us, or myself – firstname.lastname@example.org
“Risk management is a new and welcome addition to ISO 9001.” I don’t think so, certainly for some companies but not as a requirement to achieve Certification of your Quality Management System. This has taken the standard back to pre 1994 and the days of BS5750. BS5750 was originally derived from the Military Standards & was based around manufacturing. As the decades have passed, UK manufacturing has dwindled while Service Companies have come to the fore. This is largely why the Process Model adopted for ISO 9001:2000 was introduced & embraced as a welcome change. ISO 9001 in my opinion should provide an adequate framework for a company to consistently deliver its services or goods. It should not enforce practices that add bureaucracy or paperwork while not necessarily impacting quality in any way. The bulk of our ISO9001 clients, as with the bulk of companies in the UK are non-manufacturers – this has therefore been written by dinosaurs for the few remaining bastions of manufacture & does not reflect the elements required to quality manage modern day services. QM.UK’s immediate task will be to address this element with minimalism for those where it serves little purpose…. Grant QM.UK