In our global marketplace, certifications are often used to demonstrate an organisations capability and compliance. Without this it becomes challenging to ensure quality and consistency across industries, companies and nations. Many international standards, such as the ones published by ISO (International Organisation for Standardization), help to maintain a quality level within your supply chain. This becomes essential when on a global market as e.g. an organisation who is certified to ISO 9001 need to meet the same requirement, no matter within what country they are located.
UKAS is an acronym of the United Kingdom Accreditation Service. It is a national accreditation figure appointed by the British government to check the competence of organisation who provide certification to the ISO standards or testing/calibration services. UKAS issues certificates of accreditation for internationally recognized ISO standards.
Let’s start with having a look at what an ISO certification is. The International Organisation for Standardization (ISO) is a non-governmental and independent organisation. They maintain a huge range of standards, where ISO 9001 properly is one of the most known. ISO uses different accreditation bodies for accreditations as e.g. UKAS for UK.
Above the accreditation bodies is IAF (The International Accreditation Forum) who ensure that its accreditation body members only accredit bodies that are competent to do the work they undertake and are not subject to conflicts of interest.
When looking at UK, UKAS is accrediting a range of certification bodies who can certify individual organisation and businesses to the ISO standards they are accredited to.
Some of the benefits of an ISO 9001 certification is:
- An ISO 9001 certification add credibility to your service or product.
- It demonstrates your management system is centered around customer satisfaction.
- It ensures a robust quality management system and continual improvement within your organisation.
- An ISO certification helps organisations to win business and if often required to tender for certain projects.
The importance of a Certification with UKAS Accreditation
When looking for a certification body to certify you to a given ISO standard within UK, one of the first decisions to make is if they need to have a UKAS accreditation. Developing and implementing a management system takes a lot of time and resources, so when getting a certification at the end, you want to make sure it is seen as sufficient by all your potential customers and internationally where relevant.
The national and global recognition of your certificates is one of the reasons for choosing a certification body who has a UKAS accreditation.
This will ensure your certification to be acknowledged when you’re offering contracts in both the public and private segments. There are numerous certification bodies that you can choose from and their UKAS accreditation can be validated directly on the website of UKAS.
ISO Certification Without UKAS Accreditation
ISO certification done through a non UKAS accredited certification body may add the risk that your organisation is passing up significant contracts and business opportunities. A few customers may not accept your ISO certification, or you could experience additional audits and validation during the tender process for a project.
For many organisations there is a requirement that your certification has to be UKAS accredited as it ensured the quality of the certification. The main reason is that each UKAS accredited certification body is audited by UKAS to ensure compliance and has to follow the rules set by The International Accreditation Forum (IAF). One of the rules is related to impartiality, meaning the accredited certification body can’t provide both consulting and certification.
As a non UKAS accredited certification body don’t have to comply with any defined rules, the validity of the certification they provide cannot be ensured. However, this does not necessarily mean an non UKAS accredited certification body does a poor job, just that there can be a lot of variation in quality across them.
Reasons to Choose a UKAS Accredited Certification
Below are some of the reasons to choose a certification body with a UKAS accreditation.
- It increases your opportunities as a lot of tenders only consider organisations that have ISO certification that is UKAS accredited.
- UKAS accreditation is globally and universally recognized, opening up international opportunities in worldwide market places as well.
- If using a certification body which is UKAS accredited, confidentiality is a part of the requirements and prerequisites they have to comply with.
- There are no impartially prerequisites for a certification body that isn’t UKAS accredited. It implies they can give consultancy and afterward certify their own work, which is an conflicting situation.
- ISO certification bodies that does not have a UKAS accreditation are not required to work to a defined structure, framework or standard. Because of this, you can’t guarantee your clients that you have a compliant management system in place when using a non UKAS accredited certification body.
With that said, then there are scenarios as well where a non UKAS accredited certification is beneficial as well, especially as it often comes at a lower cost. However, you would need to vet your certification body well.
If you would like advise on what certification body to select or need additional support with developing your ISO 9001 Quality Management System, please feel free to contact us for a free consultation.