Accredited and non-accredited certification

Up until quite recently I couldn’t get that excited about non-accredited certification bodies. For those of you that don’t know what that means, it’s a certification body that is not approved by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) or other national equivalent. They are effectively unregulated. A lot of people have a very strong bias against these non-accredited bodies, but I was never too bothered. My view was that there was nothing actually illegal in what they did, and if a company wanted to go with a (usually cheaper) non-accredited option, then that was their choice.

Recently, however, my opinions have been changing. Whilst I still believe there is nothing actually wrong with what non-accredited CBs do, and every company has a right to make a choice, I am coming across a number of companies who have clearly made that choice without either being made aware of their options or the limitations of the non-accredited certificate. Irrespective of what many non-accredited CBs may say on their websites, many customers simply do not accept non-accredited certificates at the PQQ stage, and in the past year I have come across 4 companies who have initially gone down the non-accredited route, only to have to start afresh after a period of time with an accredited CB when they have found that it has not helped them gain the access to contract opportunities that they had hoped. I would go so far as to say at least a couple had been deliberately misled in the process.

Often when a newish company decides that it needs to be certified in order to get access to bigger and better contracts, it does not fully understand either the certification process or its options. In most cases it does what the rest of us do at the first level of research – it googles. As I write, I have just googled “ISO 9001” (probably the most likely thing typed in by a bewildered person) and the TOP THREE sponsored ads are ALL non-accredited certification bodies. So what? You may be thinking, well I’ll tell you. Non-accredited CBs know fine well who their target market is – clueless people googling “ISO 9001” – so they make sure these people are captured at source and make sure they appear at the top of these searches. My guess is that these uninformed people are kept well and truly in the dark when it comes to the limitations of the non-accredited certificate and the existence of alternatives once the phone is picked up, and they only become informed when told “that’s no good – try again” when they try to use the certificate in a PQQ process.

These are my opinions, obviously, no companies are named or shamed specifically …

For a list of current UKAS accredited certification bodies, follow this link to the UKAS site

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