Frequently Asked Questions
Some of our most frequently asked questions have been listed below.
If you have a question that has not been listed, please do get in touch and we will endeavour to answer your question as promptly and clearly as possible.
- What is ISO?
ISO is the acronym for The International Organisation for Standardisation.
‘Because “International Organisation for Standardisation” would have different acronyms in different languages (“IOS” in English, “OIN” in French for Organisation Internationale de Normalisation), its founders decided to give it also a short, all-purpose name. They chose “ISO”, derived from the Greek isos, meaning “equal”. Whatever the country, whatever the language, the short form of the organisation’s name is always ISO.
Based in Geneva Switzerland, ISO is the world’s largest developer of International Management Standards and is made up of a network of 163 national standards institutes from around the world with one member from each participating country. The UK member is the British Standards Institute (BSI).
ISO is a non-governmental organisation and acts as an impartial link between the public and private sectors. This ensures ISO is able to reach a rounded consensus on most out-comes that meet both the needs of business and the wider requirements of society.
Please note that ISO do not offer Certification, nor do they get involved in implementation of standards in any way.
Certification Bodies provide Certification to verify that an organisations systems and processes have been independently and impartially assessed and audited and meet the defined requirements of the chosen ISO Standards.
More information can be found at www.iso.org
- Why do Standards Matter?
ISO’s official description of itself includes the following extracts:
If there were no standards, we would soon notice. Standards make an enormous contribution to most aspects of our lives – although very often, that contribution is invisible. It is when there is an absence of standards that their importance is brought home.
The International Standards which ISO develops are very useful. They are useful to industrial and business organisations of all types, to governments and other regulatory bodies, to trade officials, to conformity assessment professionals, to suppliers and customers of products and services in both public and private sectors, and, ultimately, to people in general in their roles as consumers and end users.
ISO standards contribute to making the development, manufacturing and supply of products and services more efficient, safer and cleaner. They make trade between countries easier and fairer. They provide governments with a technical base for health, safety and environmental legislation. They aid in transferring technology to developing countries. ISO standards also serve to safeguard consumers, and users in general, of products and services – as well as to make their lives simpler.
For example, as purchasers or users of products, we soon notice when they turn out to be of poor quality, do not fit, are incompatible with equipment we already have, are unreliable or dangerous. When products meet our expectations, we tend to take this for granted. We are usually unaware of the role played by standards in raising levels of quality, safety, reliability, efficiency and interchangeability – as well as in providing such benefits at an economical cost.
Although ISO’s principal activity is the development of technical standards, ISO standards also have important economic and social repercussions. ISO standards make a positive difference, not just to engineers and manufacturers for whom they solve basic problems in production and distribution, but to society as a whole.
When things go well – for example, when systems, machinery and devices work well and safely – then it is because they conform to standards. And the organisation responsible for many thousands of the standards which benefit society worldwide is ISO.
- Are ISO Standards Compulsory?
ISO Management Standards such as ISO 9001 are generic management standards and as such they are not compulsory. However, it is proven ‘best practice’ for any business or organisation that wants to consistently and successfully manage important business processes, thereby providing high quality products and services to their customers.
- What is Certification?
ISO is a publisher of Management Standards and does not issue, or recognise any type of certification. An ISO Certificate is produced by an Independent Qualified Third Party. The Certificate will state that your ‘ISO Systems’ have been independently audited by a Qualified Auditor and have met the requirements of the particular ISO Standards.
Certification Bodies fall into two categories, Accredited and Independent. For more information on Accreditation please click here (Faqs/What is Accreditation) Where an Independent Certification body is preferred clients are assured that all Auditors are fully qualified members of the International Register of Certified Auditors (IRCA)
- What is Accreditation?
As far as ISO is concerned there is no such term as ‘ISO Accreditation’ What is usually meant is ‘ISO Certification’.
In certain circumstances clients might request that Certification is provided by an Accredited Certification Body which has been independently audited, certified and accredited by a recognised Accreditation Body, the main one in the UK being UKAS or for North America ANAB.
Accreditation Bodies are essentially self-regulating companies financed by member (Certification Body) subscriptions for the purpose of promoting their own interests.
This ‘Accreditation’ is achieved when the Certification Body is able to demonstrate by means of External and Impartial audit by the Accreditation Body that they work to the requirements of ISO 17021:2011, which is the International Standard for ‘Accredited Certification Bodies’.
ISOCert UK works with both Accredited and Independent Certification Bodies dependent on client choice. Advice on this is provided from the outset.
For more information on whether you would qualify please get in touch
- How much does ISO certification cost?
ISO Certification is a valuable asset for any company or organisation. Costs vary depending on the size of the organisation and the amount of work involved. As Independents in this field ISOCert UK is uniquely placed to offer clients a highly competitive fee structure along with our commitment to helping clients achieve Certification efficiently and affordably.
- Do ISO Standards require regular Internal and External Audits?
Yes, this is what gives an ISO Management Standard it’s strenght and integrity. It is a requirement of ISO Certification Bodies that organisations have their Management Systems externally audited each year. To minimise any risk of non-conformance Organisations are also required to undertake Internal Audits and Management Reviews.
- How long does the Registration Certificate last?
This can vary between different Certification Bodies, some provide a 3-5 or even 10 year Certificate, in these circumstances and Annual Audit or Surveillance Visit will be required. Others prefer an annual Certificate. Eiher way the Audit should be undertaken by an Independent qualified ‘Lead Auditor’.
Your ISO Cert Consultant will fully explain the ISO certification process with you.
- How long does it take to gain ISO certification?
This is really dependent on the Client company as much of the process involves implementation of some key processes. Whilst we provide continuous guidance, help and support throughout the actual implementation is down to the company. Different standards will also require timeframes, however, with the help of ISOCert UK your organisation can achieve certification efficiently and with minimum disruption to your organisations day to day activities and management time will be kept to a minimum wher possible.
For more information on the application process please click here for Applying ISO
- Are there any grants to help towards the cost?
ISOCert UK will advise on what grants might be available to help with the cost of implementing an ISO Standard.
Currently, for those businesses involved in the manufacturing sector, either in production or manufacturing processes, the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS), funded by BIS (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) offer grants to help and this could represent up to 50% of the cost.
For more information on whether you would qualify please get in touch