Achieving ISO accreditation 

Many early stage businesses are pushed into seeking ISO accreditation simply because it is a prerequisite for winning orders with large clients. The amount of work required to achieve accreditation largely depends on the complexity of the products or services you supply (i.e. the Scope). In addition, if you have a "Design and development" requirement then this most certainly adds to the work you have to do.

Some of the benefits of achieving accreditation can be found here. Irrespective of the complexity of the scope, in most cases, one of the team will have to be assigned responsibility for implementation. There are many quick fixes, tool boxes, fixed fee implementations that may work well for your business. These are all well advertised online and it is certainly worth considering the options.

The downside of quick implementations are many with the major one being that the installed system is not implemented into day-to day operations and effectively sits on the shelf and the other being that a lack of maintenance can make the recertification process quick difficult, especially if the audit can see no evidence of further implementation or it adding value to business performance. The auditors I have worked with have been very clear that gaining the certificate is the early part and that the next audit will be far more intensive.

 

Some advisory notes

  • If you're going to spend the cash to implement, think hard about relying on a quick win and think about the possible missed opportunity of improving your management system. If you're starting from scratch you are going to have to create the system, you may as well do it so that it is implemented correctly and crucially gains traction with the workforce.

  • Bringing in a consultant is a good option but once implemented, you still need someone to be responsible for maintaining the system (i.e. internal auditing and addressing non conformances etc.) 

 

  • Use the management system across the business to improve performance and be wary of a separate 'QHSE' system that has littler to no involvement in technology, sales etc., and at worse has the reputation of simply looking after the signage, fire drills etc. Ensure that your KPI's cover the entire business. 

 

  • Ensure that the QHSE 'Management representative' has both the respect and clear line of communication to senior management.

  • If your going to implement internally, ensure that those responsible are given the support, time and resources to train and learn the terminology etc. The auditors will be very supportive to those implementing the system if they can demonstrate they are committed, irrespective of their experience. They will take a dim view of a poorly implemented system with an implementer who is both uninterested and clueless.

  • The most popular standard is ISO 9001:2015. As 14001:2015 and 45001:2018 now have a common structure, it is worth considering all three at the same time to create an Integrated Management System

  • Clients can ask to see the report compiled by the auditors. Some Non Conformances are OK and to be expected. A damming report will reflect very badly on your reputation. remember, you must ensure that a client is confident that you will deliver on time, to the specification agreed and not expose their company or their employees to undue risk. In many cases, you run the risk of not winning work irrespective of any aggressive pricing strategy.

 

Free resources

There are ample free resources available online. Some really useful information can be found at:

I don't have any affiliation with either of these organisations but I'm very grateful for the knowledge I've acquired by through them.

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