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Top 6 steps to achieving certification - FocusIMS

Top 6 steps to achieving certification

ISO certification is a prestigious reward for a business meeting requirements of the standards and continual improvement. It is a sign of accomplishment and know how, it puts your business at a level higher than your competitors without certification. In spite of this, many companies start the journey towards certification with confidence, but along the way, abandon the process and revert to old ways of operations. What causes some to have it “easy” while others struggle all the way there?

We will show you 6 steps that you can use to get that certification!

  1. Know what the certification means

Decide on which standards you are looking to get certified for the most common are

  • ISO9001 Quality Management system,
  • ISO45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management systems and
  • ISO14001 Environmental Management Systems.

The next decision to make is regarding the scope you want to get certified for ie what your organisation does.

Certification takes work! This is the reality that must be faced at first, before any other. It takes time, commitment, effort and money. The choice to certify is a clear indication that your organization is not merely satisfied with basic compliance but excels with continual improvement.

What we find is when companies take on certification they find varied and significant benefits for their business that more than covers the costs associated with getting certified.

2. Get  top management and people involved

One you have considered the scope and standards for the certification process,  approach your top management and present the idea. State the benefits that come with ISO certification, the cost and the time frame it takes to earn the certification. Once top management have committed to it, break the plan down to assigning tasks, create job descriptions and appoint managers over the various functions within the certification framework.

 Talk to the employees in general and brief them on the changes that will take place as a result of the certification process. Show them the breakdown of the certification executive team and let them gain buy in in  the project.

 Just like the top management, other employees must understand that some changes will be required, outline the risks and opportunities and be prepared to answer questions that arise. This will also be a good time to agree on the frequency of update meetings about progress of the certification.

3. Choose a reliable Champion

The Champion ensures that all of the tasks and processes required for certification are monitored and achieved this can be an internal employee or an external consultant. Often a consultant will work with an Internal Champion to bring a good balance of knowledge of the certification processes as well as progress. They are likely to see pitfalls, delays, successes and other components of the process more readily than someone with less experience in the certification process. Together they will ensure the process has the best chance of success and continual progress.

4. Perform a Gap Analysis

This is the starting point to work out what needs to be done. Often this will be completed by a consultant. The consultant will do a pre audit of the policy and procedures you have and identify any gaps to the requirements of the standards.  

Ideally done by the ISO consultant, it helps an organization to see where they are, and the work that should be done to the processes and systems, to get them to certification. The results of this step modify the entire project plan and may create more tasks depending on the gap itself.

The gap analysis is the precursor to change that is much needed to certify.

5. Internal then external audit

Once processes and procedures have been put in place in line with the specific standards, an internal audit is carried out. This is an iterative step because an honest audit will bring out discrepancies between the current system and the desired one. With each iteration, the gap closes and finally the business is ready for an external audit.

An external audit is mostly carried out by the certifier or an independent team. They will audit with reference to all the standards within the desired certification. This final compliance audit, if successful, will confirm your organization for certification.

6. Certification

Certification is achieved once any major non conformances are addressed. All the stakeholders in the process have reason for a well deserved pat on the back once certification is achieved. The team now commits to maintaining the standards of their certification. From here your organisation would normally have at least an annual internal audit and an external surveillance audit by the certification body and then a recertification audit every 3 years.

If you would like to organise a gap analysis for your business get in contact through:


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If you would like to get certified quickly with our cloud based solution with documents that already cover off the requirements of the standards why not have a look at our FREE 14 Day Trial of FocusIMS

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