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Businesses facing Unaccredited ISO Certificates being Rejected

UK based Certification Body, the British Assessment Bureau, are warning eager small businesses to check the small print before starting the journey towards ISO certification, due to a large number of certificates being rejected due to them not being backed by UKAS accreditation.

Last year, the Government pledged to spend £1 in every £3 on SMEs. Encouraged by the news, smaller businesses all over the UK are applying for up to £14bn worth of Government contracts which tend to follow a similar pre-qualification and tender process.

With competition strong, it’s important for small businesses to deliver across all requirements in order to make the final cut, as tender specialist Anne Grady of Chameleon Marketing explains;

“It’s typical for Pre-Qualification Questionnaires to request detailed information on a potential supplier’s quality management processes. Whilst scoring varies, opting for a UKAS certified ISO certification not only saves time filling out these questions, it tends to mean an automatic maximum score for that section of the Questionnaire.”

With many tenders having demanding deadlines for applications, businesses understandably find quick and easy solutions being advertised for achieving ISO certification very appealing.

Despite there being a Government-recognised National Accreditation Body – UKAS – in place to oversee ISO Certification Bodies, the demand for certification has seen an increase in the amount of Certification Bodies surfacing claiming ‘alternative’ forms of accreditation, despite this being banned through European law. Trevor Nash, Chief Executive of ABCB – a trade body representing UKAS accredited certification bodies – expanded on this, saying;

There is a European Regulation, EC765:2008, which requires each member state to appoint a single National Accreditation Body. In the UK this body is UKAS. The Regulation also requires that Certification Bodies seeking accreditation shall do so from their National Accreditation Body. Therefore, it follows that any UK Certification Body claiming to be accredited by an organisation other than UKAS is therefore contravening the Regulation. The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills states that UKAS is the only accreditation in the UK that has public authority status. As such, any organisation suggesting it is accredited in the sense of the Regulation when they are not is likely to be guilty of an offence under the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations (SI 2008/127,) and that these cases should be reported to Trading Standards or the Office of Fair Trading.

All too often, it’s only after they have paid for their ISO 9001 certificate that some businesses are finding it’s not being accepted, as it hasn’t been issued by a UKAS accredited Certification Body. Robert Fenn, Marketing Director at the British Assessment Bureau, often deals with this scenario, commenting;

“Virtually every day we hear from a small businesses who, out of haste, has opted for what they believed was recognised certification only to find it’s been rejected. Not only have they missed out on the tender, but we have to give them the news that they’ll need to start the certification process again, from scratch, to get that UKAS accredited certificate they need.”

Anne Grady shares a similar story, saying;

“Given the nature of what we do at Chameleon, we get to see what’s within hundreds of tender documents every year. With the frequency that UKAS backed certification is specified, we can only recommend this as the right route for obtaining ISO 9001.”

ISO 9001’s purpose is to help organisations develop a Quality Management System. This helps to facilitate an ethos of continual improvement by first establishing a set of robust processes, followed by ongoing review to ensure both your people and procedures are in the best shape to deliver great service.

These are views we support here at Assent Risk Management, with our Director Robert Clements commenting;

“As providers of consultancy services for ISO 9001, ISO 27001 and others, our job is to help businesses recognise and benefit from developing Management Systems that really work for them. This simply can’t be achieved through the unaccredited route, where templates are often cobbled together with no real meaning. We believe we can only help businesses achieve their goals to be more secure, more efficient and more customer-focused in combination with a UKAS accredited Certification Body.”

Certified grunge stampWith the British Assessment Bureau’s most recent Client Satisfaction Survey showing that 67% of their clients found ISO 9001 certification either helped them qualify for or directly win work, the quality standard is set to continue to be a popular choice for small businesses hoping to win Government tenders. However, the old adage “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” rings true when it comes to choosing a Certification Body; the risk-free approach comes with UKAS backed certification.


Original Author:  Assent Risk Management & British Assessment Bureau

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