In recent times, a growing number of ISO certification agencies are offering consultancy services to organizations for increasing revenues, such as ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, and so on. Certifying bodies may try to convince you by making statements of “one-stop-shop”, “more experience” or “cheaper”, but organizations should always beware of such practices before entering an engagement.
5 REASONS: WHY AN ISO CERTIFICATION SERVICE PROVIDER SHOULD NOT DISPENSE CONSULTANCY SERVICES TO ORGANIZATIONS
Non-conformance to ISO 17021:
The ISO Certifying bodies should not be your consultant because it is prohibited under ISO 17021, compliance Assessment Requirements for organizations responsible for certification of Management Systems. The agency must ISO 17021 to further understand what they are and what they are not intended to do. ISO 17021 standard provides requirements for ISO certifying agencies. Few requirements are listed below:
- For a body to issue certifications that inspire confidence, it has to be impartial.
- Verification of a client’s management system to which the body has provided consultancy services on the management system would be a threat to the client.
- The threats come from the agency that acts in its own financial interest.
- The threats come from the body that examines the work it does.
- ISO certifying agencies or any part of the same legal entity must not offer internal audits to their certified clients.
- They cannot claim that ISO certification services would be simpler, easier, quicker, or cheaper if their certification body or specific consultancy firm were used.
- They shall not offer any management system consulting services.
- When training is performed, certifying bodies are only allowed to provide general training and should not provide company-specific solutions for the organization they certify.
Offer no objectivity
As a consulting firm, when we work with our customers to provide consulting services for their management system, that is completely aim. We work solely for the benefit of our clients. A body that provides ISO consulting services is not motivated to aim. There is a reason for them to certify your organization, either directly or indirectly, through their funnel company. A consultant acts as an advocate for their clients in the selection of the certifying body that best fits the culture and working style of their clients. Not all service providers are the same, therefore it is important to determine from the outset whether the body is suitable for your organization.
For instance, some bodies work better with large companies, but less well with small and medium-sized companies. Some certifying agencies understand better and will work with you more than others. Some act like dictators and kill you to justify additional visits and accusations. There are even other firms that are not certified, so your certification may not be recognized by your customers or industry.
The body that offers you consulting or verification services will not be aim and will provide you with additional quotes from its competitors. They often ask for up to 5 quotations from their clients and go through them and offer the clients their best options. Some bodies may appear to be less expensive, but they have other administrative costs that you must pay annually. This leads to a higher total cost of services. If this is not taken into consideration, you may end up spending more money on your certification services unnecessarily.
An ISO consultant has over 20 years of experience serving your organization to avoid common mistakes that companies make on their way to services. These mistakes result in an increase in the revenues of the certification bodies, so the more mistakes you make, the more they can take advantage of those mistakes.
It is important to understand that certificate providers are accredited by accreditation bodies to issue their certificates, not by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). These bodies are also expected to ensure ISO certifying agencies have to “pay to play”. The cost that the bodies have to pay is reflected in the cost they charge you for your certificate.
Organizations must also know whether their consultation undertaking is too closely aligned with a specific certifying body. Some consultants align with specific ISO certification bodies due to back-end transactions, which does not allow them to think only about their client’s best interest. For instance, a certifying body refers clients who need consulting services to a consulting firm, if the consulting agency refers the client back to the same certifying body or is certified by the same body. This type of arrangement puts the consulting firm in a very compromising situation, as the certifying body now has an influence on the certification of the consulting firm. In order for a consulting firm to be a truly aim part of its client’s certification process, it must always be an “independent” body. Thus, a consulting agency should never be associated with such bodies.
In conclusion, it is not good practice for certifying bodies to also provide consultation or audit services. Besides not being a good practice, it is not compliant with ISO 17021, which is the standard for certifying organizations.