ISO 9001 Certification
Getting Your ISO 9001 Certificate
Many organizations have chosen to pursue ISO compliance in order to improve their general business condition, and to realize the benefits that come from promoting emphasis on customer satisfaction, compliance with requirements and continual improvement, That said however, there are other organizations that pursue ISO compliance solely in response to customer or market requirements, and/or to benefit from the market advantages that come with ISO 9001 certification. In many cases, ISO 9001 certification is a pre-requisite for consideration for contract award or order eligibility.
ISO 9001 certification (also known as “registration”), is a third-party activity, performed by an ISO registrar (or "certification body") who, upon verification that an organization is in compliance with the requirements of ISO 9001, will issue an ISO 9001 certificate. As a note on this subject, ISO is a developer and publisher of international standards, not a certifying body. There are many organizations that are willing to offer ISO 9001 certification; of these certifying organizations, they may either be accredited or non-accredited. ISO certificates issued by an accredited certifying body are considered to be recognized globally. A non-accredited certification may not have the same market recognition or transportability, and while they often look like a cheaper option, the end-user may find they have lesser value overall.
The ISO 9001 certification audit process is typically performed in two stages; a Stage 1 audit is used as a preliminary assessment, in order to determine if the organization is adequately prepared for the following Stage 2 audit; the Stage 2 audit would be a comprehensive assessment which would result in a certificate award. During the course of these audits, a thorough evaluation of the management system would take place, performed through a review of documentation, verification of records, observations of any work-in-process and interviews with affected personnel.
Upon completion of the audit, an audit report is issued, with the auditor's recommendation for certificate award. Should any nonconformances be noted during these audits, they are typically classified as either Minor or Major. in the case of a Minor audit nonconformance, a lapse has occurred; in the case of a Major nonconformance, there has been a breakdown in the management system. In the later case, a follow-up audit is typically required to revisit and verify the resolution of those specific issues. For minor findings, the presentation of a corrective action plan by the auditee to the registrar is typically sufficient, with follow-up performed at the next scheduled audit.
Once ISO 9001 certification is awarded, this certification is then maintained through regularly scheduled surveillance audits (typically performed annually) by the registrar, with re-certification of the program performed on a tri-annual basis (every three years).