I wanted to highlight the fact that 3rd party certification often automatically renews around the beginning of the year and therefore now is the time for companies to review what they are getting. The turn of a year is a good time to review ongoing contracts anyway, to verify that you are getting a good deal and as with other products and services, it is important to not just review the headline price, but the overall service.
It is worth noting that the market for 3rd party certification has become very competitive over the past few years, particularly for schemes catering for Secured By Design requirements. Several new players have entered the market and the level of service offered by the different certification bodies can vary substantially. Allowing the renewal to go ahead unchecked may leave a company with an unnecessarily high bill, and a service level that is far worse than they could have achieved elsewhere.
Bluesky Certification has been talking to manufacturers and installers over the past few months, to determine what they consider to be important features of a certification scheme, so that these can be included within the service provided. Some of the key points that come up regularly are as follows:
- Customer service – it is important to be able to reach the right person for any queries regarding the certification.
- Speed of response – if a change is needed to the certification scope, this needs to be dealt with promptly. This is particularly important if the change is needed to comply with a tender – a slow response may lose a job, which could cost far more than the certification fees.
- Pragmatic approach – providing credible certification doesn’t necessarily prevent the certification body from being realistic about the demands placed on its customers. The balance between achieving credibility and understanding the commercial realities that customers face is tricky, and some bodies manage this better than others.
- Auditing approach – when your certification body comes to audit, does it feel like they are working with you to achieve compliance, or does it seem like a battle to find something that they can say is wrong? A good certification scheme will focus on the issues that make a difference, which will add value to your operation.
- Communication of updates regarding changes to standards and regulations is important, for example, manufacturers of doors and windows who need to transition from PAS 24:2012 to PAS 24:2016. The certification body will need to keep itself up to date, but how (or whether) they communicate this information to their customers is important.
- Value for money – certification is rarely cheap. However, if you feel that you have achieved value from the process, the cost won’t be a grudge purchase.
If someone is considering purchasing certification, or they are already involved in a scheme, they should determine what they require from the scheme. If their existing certification body doesn’t meet that requirement, they should shop around, as it may be that another body will.
Where the decision is that another certification body is likely to better serve their requirements, the transfer process may not be as difficult as they would think. Most UKAS accredited bodies will transfer certification from another UKAS accredited body as a desktop exercise, reviewing what has been done by the previous certification body. The transfer process is likely to be free, meaning that all that is needed to do is apply and then provide up to date paperwork to show that there are no issues with the existing certification.
Bluesky Certification would be happy to hear from companies who wish to review their certification requirements. We can be contacted on 01753 303828, firstname.lastname@example.org, or via our website www.blueskycert.com .