Maximising the Benefit of Your Certification.

For most organisations there are a few compelling reasons why they set out on the path to certification. Chief amongst them is access to markets – a key customer requires it, or there’s a need to fulfil tender requirements. Or sometimes it’s recognised that there’s a need to manage risks and opportunities, or provide structure to a growing business, and a certified management system can provide the framework and discipline required.

But then other benefits can emerge as the system beds in. These could be reduced costs and increased efficiency, better relationships with customers and employees, added confidence in legal compliance, and the opportunity to shout about your commitment to continual improvement.

Make Your Certification Work for You.

If you’ve gone to the time, trouble and expense of achieving certification, then it makes sense to maximise the return on that investment. Real value can be added, through: aligning the management system so it focuses on what’s important, making sure it controls processes effectively and appropriately, demonstrating proper support, and utilising the information and insights provided to ensure that the right improvements are made.

To do this requires some thought – not only to how you meet the requirements of the standard, but to what is going to work well in your organisation. For example:

  • It’s worth taking time for planning. Get people involved in discussions about the context of the organisation, so that there’s an understanding of the external issues affecting it, and how well-placed you are to deal with them. In particular, think about your ‘interested parties’ and what they’re actually interested in, which may not only be the concerns of customers or employees.
  • Carefully consider your risks and opportunities, including compliance obligations (and environmental aspects or health and safety hazards, where appropriate) and make sure your management system, and the improvement objectives, are aligned with these.
  • Recognise the importance of leadership and commitment in making a management system really work. Top management need to show an active interest, provide necessary resources, and support those with day-to-day responsibilities. If top management aren’t interested in maximising the benefit of certification, why would anyone else?
  • Involve, engage and communicate with employees and others undertaking work on your behalf. They need to understand the requirements of the management system, and you need to know they’ve got the right competencies to do the job.
  • Make sure that your operational processes are clear and appropriate, and supported where necessary with useful documentation. This doesn’t mean there always has to be detailed procedures. But it can be helpful to have key processes mapped out, with perhaps more detailed references for complex or infrequent tasks.
  • Check that the management system is working well and delivering the results you want. Measure what’s important – use key performance indicators to track whether you’re maintaining or improving on desired results. Periodically examine the system through internal audit to identify any areas of weakness. Put things right, and prevent further problems, with a robust look at nonconformances and their causes. Don’t just wait for the external auditor to raise concerns.
  • Make the most of Management Review. This is the opportunity to take a step back, assess what is working well, target where improvements are needed, and reassess whether the focus of the management system is still where it needs to be. Thorough consideration, amongst those best placed to provide useful insight, helps to ensure continual improvement in the right direction.

Sell the Benefits.

Having earned certification, for a management system that helps you achieve your organisational goals, why wouldn’t you want your achievements to be recognised? Doing so can give confidence to your customers and differentiate you from the competition. As a certificate holder you’re entitled to use recognised logos on your communications – just remember that there are certain rules that must be followed.

Choose the Right Certification Body.

The first thing to understand when selecting a certification body, is that only those that are accredited (for example by UKAS or ASI) have been subject to rigorous, independent assessment against internationally recognised standards. This means that you, and your customers, can have confidence that the certificate has been awarded following a thorough, competent and impartial audit process.

Not surprisingly, we believe that Interface can help you maximise the benefit of your certification, and not just because we’re accredited. We pride ourselves on customer service, being there to help the audit process run smoothly from quote to certification and beyond. We’re keen to understand your business and take a thorough but pragmatic approach to auditing, with justifiable findings and useful feedback. And, as an employee-owned company, we’re committed to delivering this value year after year, for as long as you need us.

 

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