Frequently asked questions

Why do organisations want ISO certification?

We are fully aware that many companies want ISO certification for commercial reasons. Many tenders require companies to have ISO certification and companies without the right certifications may be disqualified from the process at an early stage or may be required to complete many pages of additional questions.

Having the right level of certification removes this burden from your business.

ISO certification is a statement to your customers and employees that you are committed to the highest standards.  Third party certification shows that you have proved to an independent assessor that your systems run to a consistently high standard. This gives other businesses the confidence to deal with you.

For example a certified Quality Management System will give your customers and potential customers confidence that you run your business in the right way and that, if anything does go wrong , you will move quickly to put things right. That you will put in additional corrective measures to ensure that the same mistakes do not occur again.

What standards do I need?

That of course depends entirely on you and the requirements of your business and customers.  By far the most widely used ISO standard is ISO 9001 -Quality Management.  This provides a framework for your business to show that you operate to consistently high standards of quality.  However, there are other popular ISO standards such as ISO 14001 – Environmental Management, ISO 27001 – Information Security Management and ISO 45001 – Occupational Health and Safety Management.

At MQF we are happy to give you a free initial consultation to discuss and hone your requirements.  Please contact us for the initial consultation.

Who or what is ISO?

ISO is an independent, non-governmental international organization with a membership of 164 national standards bodies.

Through its members, it brings together experts to share knowledge and develop voluntary, consensus-based, market relevant International Standards that support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges.

ISO publishes many standards across a variety of sectors, although the most recognised standards are ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 27001 and ISO 45001.

What is ISO Certification?

ISO certification is obtained by having your system (For ISO 9001, for example, your Quality Management System) audited by an independent UKAS accredited Certification body to certify that you have met the requirements of the standard. This certification is a statement to your customers, staff and other stakeholders that you are serious about quality, the environment, information security and Health and Safety (depending on which standard you go for).

Why would I want a UKAS accredited certification body?

If your certification body is not UKAS accredited, then your customers may not regard your ISO certification as being valid.

At MQF we only work with UKAS accredited certification bodies.

UKAS is the UK’s national accreditation body and operates under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government, through the Secretary of State for Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

It is BEIS’s policy to recommend the use of UKAS accredited conformity assessment services whenever this is an option.

UKAS is a signatory to international accreditation agreements which provide for mutual recognition. This reduces the need for multiple assessments of suppliers, and as a consequence helps to reduce barriers to trade for organisations who have UKAS accreditation.

What does ISO Certification Cost?

The cost will depend entirely on the size and complexity of your business and operations. At MQF we offer a fixed fee for certifications, which means that you know up front how much it will cost.  We price each job individually and give a complete hands-on service and ensure that you gain your certification. We adhere to our quotes, there are no hidden extras.

How long does it take to achieve ISO certification?

This depends on a number of factors, such as the size and complexity of your business, how urgently you need certification, which standard you are implementing (for example ISO 27001 is a more complex and prescriptive standard compared with ISO 9001).  and how much time you are able to put into the project.

We will endeavour to work to whatever timeframe you require, but we will tell you up front if you are being unrealistic. Once we have agreed a timeframe, we will keep to this to minimise any disruption to your business.

If you are aiming for ISO 9001 certification and do not have a pressing deadline, it is sensible to assume that it will take approximately 6 months from starting the project to gaining certification.

What is the process for me to get ISO certification?

We will work with you to manage the whole certification process according to your requirements.

This will involve a review of your existing systems to identify what needs to be added or changed, and then working through these changes with you to achieve a practical and streamlined system that works for you.

We will always design the system so that it is relevant for your business, avoid unnecessary paperwork, and keep things simple.

You will need to engage with an external certification body and we will help you select the right certification body for you and be with you at all stages of the process, including attending your third-party certification audits. These audits will be in two stages:

  • Stage 1where the certification body assesses whether you have a system that complies with the requirements of your chosen standard
  • Stage 2where the certification body looks for evidence that your system is working as it should – i.e. that you actually are doing what you say you are going to

What is the difference between ISO accreditation and certification?

All organisations that have ISO certification are issued with a certificate.  The organisation that does this will therefore be a certification body, i.e. they will audit your system and if they are happy that it complies with the standard and is working as it should, they will issue you with a certificate that confirms that you are in compliance with the relevant standard.

The certification body itself is regulated and accredited by UKAS.  If UKAS approves of the certification body, the body has accredited status.

UKAS is the UK’s national accreditation body and operates under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government, through the Secretary of State for Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

It is BEIS’s policy to recommend the use of UKAS accredited conformity assessment services whenever this is an option.

Customers like to see that your certification body is accredited by UKAS.

What is an audit?

An audit is the process by which an independent person or company checks that you are really meeting the requirements of whatever ISO standard you are operating under.

Audits are can be  internal– where you check that your own system is working properly, or external – where a third party, often a certification body or on occasion a customer or potential customer comes to your company to check that your systems comply with the relevant standard.

At MQF we provide a complete internal audit service for many of our clients which gives that them the confidence that their systems stand up to detailed scrutiny. We will also attend your third-party audit days to make sure that things run smoothly.