Top Tips For Picking A Certification Body

Auditor Tips: Preparing for ISO Certification
10/04/2018

Top Tips For Picking A Certification Body

 

Did you know that there are more than 30 certification bodies in Australia?

When picking a certification provider, it goes unspoken that your organisation should compare apples with apples to ensure a fair deal, however (from our experience) this is not always easily achieved due to the vast number of varying providers in the market.

To help you make an informed decision, CertificationCollective have identified 7 areas for you to take note of when picking a certification provider - click the areas that interest you most:


 
1

Accreditation

If you require certification to meet the requirements of a tender / client request, the certification body certifying you will most likely need a form of accreditation to the standards you are looking to achieve.

*The 3 main (but not limited to) Accreditation Bodies in Australia are: JAS-ANZ, UKAS and ANAB.

2

Locality

Certification bodies vary in size from global organisations to small businesses. This means their office/s (and more importantly) their resources (the auditors) may or may not be located near your business.

Note: certification bodies can charge extra for travel & accomodation. We’ll cover this more in the costs section.

3

Experience

Certification body experience and Auditor experience is key. Depending on your reason for certification, the experience of the certification body and the auditor allocated to your business will have an impact on your certification journey.

How?
An auditor has the ability to add value to your business beyond a certificate on the wall. Although they are not consultants, they are empowered to make ‘observations’ and note ‘areas for improvement’ that are not requirements but potentially beneficial to your business growth (depending on their experience with your industry and what is practical - these insights could be priceless).

4

Availability

Most certification bodies have an existing pool of clients and will book audits months in advance (if possible).
Although they are always happy to accommodate for new clients, if time is of the essence and there is a deadline for certification - make sure you plan in advance and / or find a certification body that can promise dates before accepting contracts.

5

Price

We’re assuming your business will seek more than 1 quote (we recommend 3). To ensure you are comparing certification bodies pricing fairly, we suggest calculating the total cost for certification over the 3 years - this should be your benchmark.

Pricing elements to look for:

  • Application fees - these vary from company to company - some charge them, some don’t.
  • 1st year (initial) Certification audit fees - these costs should include your Stage 1 & 2 audit. Some certification bodies will highlight a ‘day rate’ and the number of days required to complete the audit - others quote you a lump sum. We recommend you do not compare solely on “daily rates” as these can be misleading.
  • Continual certification fees (2nd & 3rd year) - These costs cover the continual obligation to have audits conducted (minimally) every 12 months.
    Note: These costs are normally indicative but should not change if your business does not significantly change (grow or shrink). See below section ‘Contracts’ for details on price increases.
  • Annual Fees - Some certification bodies charge additional fees annually, these include:
      Certificate levies - these cover the cost of registering your certificate with an accreditation body.
      Management Fees - these cover administration and back-office staff
  • Incidentals (travel expenses) - Although not listed items, there are certification bodies that charge travel and expenses for local audits and in most cases charge for interstate travel.
    Keep these in mind when comparing costs, especially if you have remote offices / operation sites.
6

Value Adds & Extras

Every certification body has their ‘value add’. These can vary from free engagement certificates (states you are undergoing certification), to free training and or software inclusions.
Look into these and see if your certification body is offering something that meets your needs (now and in the future).

7

Contracts (T&Cs)

Undoubtedly these will need to be reviewed and accepted by your company, however here are some clauses to look for and note when comparing:

  • Payment terms:
    Certification bodies vary with their payment terms, some upfront, some pay after, some 30 days others 14 days. There is no “industry average”.
  • Fee increases:
    Some certification bodies increase their fees annually and others irregularly. Keep this in mind as quotes may or may not include the increased cost.
  • No lock-in contracts:
    Most importantly you should never be locked into a contract with a certification body.
    There is a mandatory document (IAF MD2*) that protects you from this, should you want and are eligible, you are able to transfer your certification to a new certification body when desired.

    *IAF MD2 is a mandatory document for certification bodies to follow setting the principles surrounding the ‘Transfer of Accredited Certification of Management Systems’

    Ref: IAF MD2:2017 - Clause 0. Introduction - paragraph 3: “This document provides minimum criteria for the transfer of accredited certification. Certification bodies may implement procedures or actions which are more stringent than those contained herein provided that a client organization's freedom to choose a certification body is not unduly or unfairly constrained.”


 

When it comes to choosing a certification body, it is clear there is no one right question to ask however empowered with the right information, you’ll be one step closer to finding your ideal certification provider.


If you have any questions or would like to connect with suitable certification providers, contact our free help desk, CC-Connect.

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