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We’re often asked about ISO Certification Costs. Wisdom has taught us to answer “that depends” until we find out more about corporate situation, and, more importantly, company culture. Does it all seem much too expensive, cumbersome, and full of duplicated processes? Well, maybe. However, there is hope.

A Tale From Olden Days

I worked for a telecommunications manufacturer back in the days when analogue was just becoming digital . It was large company with some products at the leading edge of technology. We had several teams: one developing new products, one for assessing feasibility of production. Finally, there was one that solely covered testing. One of the senior staff wryly observed that there were now more resources involved in testing a product than actually inventing it. The observation was a good one. ISO certification costs (including maintenance) can be significant.

Duplication – How to Generate ISO Certification Costs

A large-ish organisation will probably hold:

ISO Certification Costs ISO 9001

ISO 9001- Quality Management

Improving the consistency of your products, streamline processes, put more focus on what customers think of you and what they actually want. (A good idea, might have some positive gains for the business…)

ISO Certification Costs ISO 14001

ISO 14001 - Environmental Management

Preventing your company pouring nasty stuff down the drain and destroying the planet while you are making heaps of cash  (Quite possibly guilt-driven.)

ISO Certification Costs ISO 27001

ISO 27001 - Information Security Management

Keeping your information, and that of your customers, safe. (Customers will litigate you to extinction if you don’t do this.)

ISO Certification Costs ISO 45001

ISO 45001 - Health and Safety Management

It’s aim? Stay safe and out of the courts. (Corporate Responsibility now means keeping YOU out of court, so you better do that one.)

ISO Certification Costs - progress equal savings?

Progress Equals Savings?

Therefore, you are now carrying up to four standard approvals, all based on the same template and with many similar requirements. Have the visit duration and costs have gone down as the similarities between standards have increased and the market matured? No – sorry. The opposite has occurred, and though each standard has got more like the others, the time taken to complete the audits continues to increase. Your Certification Body seems to reinvent the wheel on every visit, and your overall ISO Certification Costs rise. My former colleague was absolutely right. Certification has become an industry in its own right. Hundreds of very well paid people are involved in writing the standards, running the certification bodies etc. They have a vested interest in duplication of tasks, hence keeping the industry going, and the costs high.

Any Good News?

Did I promise some good news in the title of this piece? Oh yes – I did!

Here it is:

Enter ISO 45001, the final guest to arrive at the party. It’s a vital new part of the ISO jigsaw, replacing OHSAS 18001. Finally, every key area of a business is now covered by a standard, which conforms to a common template (a standard of standards if you like).  The standards I listed earlier will cover 95% of companies for 95% of their needs. At last, they all share common structure and features. Imagine four previously separate circles being squeezed into a tight Venn Diagram; common aims, common structure, common processes, but differing activity focus.

Groundhog Day for You and Your Consultant

Formerly, following initial approval against one of these standards, each company would need to be checked annually to ensure they are maintaining their systems properly. Around 50% of the duration of such visits was spent looking at exactly the same issues, namely how you have maintained the system, irrespective of the standard concerned. Therefore, a typical company with a one day maintenance visit per year, per standard, would receive four days worth of maintenance visits, of which something like four half days (two days) would be spent assessing at exactly the same areas, how the systems are maintained. At 2018 prices, that’s probably about £2000 spent looking at the same things, without considering how much it costs you to have members of your staff supporting the visit and not adding value to your business. Thankfully, this duplication can now be avoided. How?

Integrate, Then Negotiate…

First, integrate the systems; have one single management system that meets all you certification needs. This reduces internal costs – fewer documents means less cost,therefore fewer people needed to maintain them.

Next, negotiate ISO certification cost with the certification bodies, and haggle hard! They will all say that UKAS (their controlling body) gives them guidelines which they need to stick too. However, UKAS does give significant leeway for integrated systems, substantial automation, multiple locations, etc. Unfortunately, just like turkeys not voting for Christmas, certification bodies will not be willing to reduce their costs. With a simple, well maintained integrated management system you can make it clear to them that they don’t NEED that amount of time to audit your business.

Questions or comments?

Integrated systems are a present reality. They can make a dramatic impact on ISO certification costs. Hopefully, I’ve made some sense via my explanation. However, if you need further help, please get in touch!

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