IAF Members' news

Accredited Certification for Business Improvement

Marcus Long
Chief Executive, IIOC

At its foundational level, accredited certification is the assessment of conformity against a standard, such as those published by ISO. Certification delivers many things for organisations: a ‘ticket-to-trade’, a ‘licence-to-operate’, and demonstration of compliance, as just three. Maybe the most important – and yet often frequently overlooked – is the business improvement that the certification process delivers.

At the heart of driving business improvement through accredited certification are three key elements:

  • Firstly, the audit and certification starts with a core document, from an international standard such as those provided by ISO, through sector schemes dealing with a specific focus, to internal company documents.
  • Secondly, the preparation for the audit and certification process sees businesses taking the standard or other document and implementing it within their organisation. Given the depth of expertise, knowledge and understanding which goes into standards such as those produced by ISO, its thorough implementation will see the business upping its game.
  • Thirdly, the audit and certification process carried out by accredited certification bodies sees an impartial, 3rd-party process whereby the business is examined against the standard. During this, issues such as non-compliances and observations are raised which enables a business to better understand how it can improve.

When these three key elements are together in the process, it becomes clearer how a business will improve as it moves through the elements. Added to this, so many of the standards have continuous improvement as a vital element that is checked in the audit and certification process. This means that improvement is not simply a historical check of what has been achieved, but looks to check that the business is set with systems which enable them to continue this improvement.

Very simply, with these core elements, businesses have a significant system to improve. Using the standard, implementing and being checked against it, business improvement becomes more embedded and the organisation better.

The IIOC ‘Certification for Business Improvement’ paper highlights the business improvement from certification in greater depth. Each of the IIOC members explains how they see the audit and certification process leading to business improvement. The paper also gives illustrations of how businesses have improved from the process.

The publication of ‘Certification for Business Improvement’ fits hand-in-hand with the World Accreditation Day 2022 theme of ‘Sustainability in Economic Growth and the Environment’ promoted by IAF alongside ILAC. With accreditation adding additional layers of trust to the system by providing independent assurance of certification bodies’ work, business improvement can be achieved with confidence from the conformity assessment system.

Whether it is organisations improving their quality performance, their sustainability performance, their health & safety performance or numerous other ways, the auditing and certification process offered by accredited certification bodies drives business improvement.

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