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ISO management system FAQs

Frequently asked questions about ISO management systems

What are the benefits of a certified ISO management system?

It is widely recognised that companies with fully (UKAS) accredited systems see business benefits of:
• Lower operating costs
• Increased turnover
• Better employee performance, reduced absence and improved recruitment/retention.
• Improved relationships with regulators & stakeholders
To support this we can provide fact-sheets and case-studies on all of the standards we work with.  However, putting an ISO management system in place is an investment decision like any other. If you don’t aim for a reasonable payback from reduced operating costs, enhanced reputation or increased sales, then you’re potentially missing a trick.

What’s involved in putting a certified management system in?

Construction Certification uses a unique system that divides the standard into manageable sections and takes a systematic approach to putting in light-weight management systems capable of delivering the organisation’s objectives. A consultant works with a “Management Representative” nominated by the company to identify how the organisation already complies with the standard and where the gaps are. The consultant advises on how the gaps can be filled, project-manages the implementation stage and coaches the Management Representative on how the systems can be applied. At the end of the process the organisation has a fully functioning management system that is ready for certification and the Management Representative is trained and ready to take over.

How much time do we need to put in?

For a stand-alone ISO 9001, ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001 or CE-marking management system, up to 12 days for the Management Representative. For an integrated quality, environmental and safety management system, or ISO 20121, then 25 days should be enough. The actual time involved depends on how well the company’s existing processes and procedures conform to the standard(s) and this can usually be estimated during a free consultation.

Do we need to change the way we work/do we need to start from scratch?

Any well-run organisation is probably already doing 90% of what it takes to put an ISO management system in place. The approach we take is to identify these processes and show how they conform to the relevant standard, so new systems or processes are needed only where there are gaps. Construction Certification firmly believes that ISO management systems should support the business and be built around how people work already, making changes only where this creates benefits.

Can Construction Certification integrate the new ISO management system with our existing ISOs and does the management system need to be integrated with our existing ISOs?

All of our ISO management systems are designed to make them easy to integrate with existing systems, but they can stand alone if the organisation prefers. Integrated ISO management systems are usually preferred because they take less work to maintain and certification is cheaper to obtain and keep up.

Do I need to get my ISO management system independently certified?

That depends on your objectives. If you need certification to satisfy your clients or other stakeholders, then we would recommend certification by a body with UKAS accreditation, such as BSI, SGS, Lloyds Register & so on. There are over a hundred accredited bodies in the UK. On the other hand, if you are looking only for cost savings or staff involvement, these can be achieved without third-party certification and Construction Certification can confirm to your customers that you have an ISO management system that complies with the standard.

I want more than one ISO management system. Should I do them one by one, or all together?

ISO management systems have a common structure and many common elements, so it is usually quicker and more cost-effective to do them together. This means that an integrated quality, environmental and safety ISO management system, or full sustainability management system, can be delivered with 60 – 70% of the effort and cost needed to implement the separate elements.

Does Construction Certification do certification as well as systems consultancy?

UKAS, the governing body that ensures that ISO management systems are fit for purpose, doesn’t allow consultants to certify their own work. By the same token, the certifying bodies mustn’t provide consultancy for the implementation of a standard. This is for quality control purposes, so that organisations develop ISO management systems that provide real business benefits. There are companies that will put an ISO management system in and certify it for you as well, but these systems are simply cut & paste templates, which don’t have UKAS approval, aren’t accepted by knowledgeable buyers and don’t deliver any real benefits.  We would compare one of these “cookie cutter” systems to buying a degree certificate on line, it might look good on your wall but it’s meaningless in any other regard.

How long does it take to get ready for certification?

This depends on how much time a Management Representative can make available. Single ISO management systems can be ready for certification in three months, whilst a fully integrated or sustainability management system might take six months.  There is a balance to be struck between putting ISO management systems in too quickly, in which case they don’t become embedded in your organisation’s way of working, or too slowly, in which case the project loses momentum and can require more effort to finish.

How much do ISO management systems cost?

This depends on the size & complexity of the organisation and how much of the work can be done internally. Construction Certification offers a free consultation  and will then provide a fixed price quote and can spread the cost over the duration of the project.  Certification costs also vary depending on the size and complexity of the company and the number of standards included. Construction Certification can recommend UKAS accredited certification bodies and can also negotiate certification costs on your behalf.

What’s your success rate?

No client of Construction Certification has failed the certification process. Depending on the consultant’s level of involvement, we offer a no-quibble guarantee on our work.

Can you provide references?

We maintain a register of customer feed-back and make this available to prospective clients. With notice, we can also provide contacts with clients that we’ve worked with but, for obvious reasons, prefer not to do this too often.

We’ve already developed a ISO management system and we think it meets the standard, but we just haven’t got around to certifying it.  How can you help?

We frequently come across organisations that have developed their own systems and call us in to do last minute checks when they want to get certified. The benefit of our approach is that it is very systematic and this throws up issues that the client may have missed. Also, because we have worked with a large number of companies, across a range of industries, we can advise on best practise where we think a client would benefit.

Why should we make ISO management systems a business priority?

Do you know what your business needs are at the moment? If these involve cost reduction, resource efficiency, sales development, legal compliance etc., etc., an ISO standard provides a framework and project management tools that can deliver them.  Also, the latest standards, ISO 9001:2015 for quality & ISO 14001:2015 for environment & the soon to be released ISO 45001 for health & safety, work at a much more strategic level than the older versions and organisations that don’t have formal processes for business planning can find them very useful for this reason alone.

Are ISO management systems only for big organisations?

We have worked with organisations that range from micro companies that work from their homes, to multi-nationals. We develop ISO management systems that fit the size and scope of the organisation, so that they are easy to maintain.

Are ISO management systems complicated?

They don’t have to be have to be. The Construction Certification approach is to keep ISO management systems as simple and light-weight as possible, so that they are easy to maintain, but still able to deliver the business benefits that you need. We can demonstrate how this works during an initial consultation.

Are ISO management systems just a bureaucratic exercise that generates paper & red tape.

Again, they don’t have to be.  The early versions of quality & environmental management systems were very paper-heavy, but things have moved on. People who have had this experience may have worked with ISO management systems some years ago, or have employed a quality manager from a large aerospace or defence contractor, where every action needs a form.

My clients aren’t asking for it, so why would I want an ISO management system?

There are other benefits than supporting sales with existing clients; such as reduced operating costs, improved staff performance and lighter regulation. If it’s not yet a requirement of the market, the company could gain a competitive advantage by being an early adopter and showing market leadership.  If the company is considering expanding into new markets, they should consider the need for certification as part of their market research.

Isn’t this just a fad?

ISO 9001, the grand-daddy of ISO management system standards, is based on procurement experience from WW2. As such, it has stood the test of time and has been continually improved over the years.  There is an acute awareness amongst regulators that organisations need to raise their game on quality, environmental & safety management. Organisations with ISO 9001, ISO 14001 & OHSAS 18001 are recognised by regulators as having sound management practise in place and they are less likely to carry out site inspections.  Visitors and customers of the events, leisure & hospitality industries are becoming more concerned and educated about sustainability. This trend is expected to continue and ISO 20121 provides a framework to manage sustainability without reinventing the wheel.

Will it be worth the effort & expense.

If it’s done half-heartedly an ISO management system is a net drain on resources. But it shouldn’t be. We can provide case-studies to demonstrate the benefits that organisations have obtained.

What if we don’t have the resources in-house to do this?

We have worked with a number of companies who were concerned about this, but who were surprised how easy our approach made it for them. A consultant can provide as much time as the client needs to get them ready for certification and support them through the certification process as well.