If you have implemented your quality management system (QMS) per the requirements of ISO 9001, and are getting ready to certify your QMS, you may wonder if there is really a difference between the many certification bodies that are out there. It may surprise you that there is. To find out more about certification, see this helpful link: ISO 9001 Certification.

Certification bodies, often called registrars, are not all created equal. There are many things to think about when making sure that the certification body, and the auditors who will represent it, are a good match for your company. Here are a few things to consider when making this critical decision.

Not every certification body is accredited

It surprises many people when they find that some certification bodies are not necessarily accredited to issue ISO 9001 certifications. Different countries around the world have accreditation bodies that act as oversight on certification bodies, and issue them accreditation when they have shown that their practices meet the requirements set out to issue ISO 9001 certifications. Some examples of these organizations are UKAS in the UK and ANAB in the USA.

If you are going to use your ISO 9001 certification as a marketing tool, it is wise to check that the registrar you are using is accredited, because this may be the difference between your ISO 9001 certification being recognized as legitimate by your customers – or not. If your certification is not seen as justifiable to your customers, then your certification is not much more than a waste of money.

Not every certification body is recognized globally

Another consideration that might affect your choice of registrar is how recognized your certification body is. Even among the accredited certification bodies, some are only recognized within the country in which they issue certifications, rather than having a global recognition. This may not matter to you if all of your customers are within your country, but if they are not, it is important to ensure they will recognize your certification if you are using it as a marketing tool. If your certification is for your own purposes, this may not be a concern for you.

Does the certification body have experience in your industry?

While each certification body will hire auditors with experience in ISO 9001, and these auditors will need to be certified as lead auditors for the ISO 9001 standard, this does not mean that all ISO 9001 experience is equally applicable to your company or industry. If the auditors that will be performing the audits of your QMS do not have experience in your industry, they may very well need to learn the industry as well as your QMS before they can audit your processes. This may cause delays and potential misunderstanding in interpreting your process documentation.

Additionally, audit experience with companies the same size as your own is beneficial, because audit experience with large companies can be difficult to apply to smaller, leaner companies. Most registrars will supply you with the resumes of the auditors who will be assigned to your company, so take advantage of this and find out a bit more about the people you will be trusting to fairly interpret your processes and records. In fact, if the registrar will not supply this information, that may be a red flag that something is not right with the relationship.

A little careful consideration can lead to a great relationship

Remember, what you are trying to do with your registration is to obtain helpful feedback on your quality management system so that you can improve. If you do not get this feedback from your registrar, then the money you spend for their services is not going to be well spent. However, if you take the time to ensure that you choose a registrar with auditors who are the right fit for your company, you will find that the benefits obtained in the feedback will help your QMS grow and improve.

In the long run, you will be happy you did.

Original Post: How should you pick an ISO 9001 certification body?