The Cost Of ISO 9001 Certification and Accreditation in the UK
When an organisation is considering its ISO 9001 cost commitments and embarking on an ISO 9001 project, one of the initial management considerations explored before committing to such a project is the likely cost of ISO 9001 quality standard implementation. However, it is not possible to make an accurate judgement in this respect without considering the overall requirements of the project.
You see, there are a multitude of factors that contribute to the ISO 9001 certification cost UK organisations need to weigh up. This can be difficult for organisations without experience of ISO 9001 implementation.
That’s why using the expertise of a professional ISO 9001 consultant can minimise the cost burden of implementing new processes and ensure that they can realise the benefits of this quality management standard as soon as possible.
There is no such thing as an ISO 9001 certification cost because the ISO 9001 cost UK organisations achieve is dependent on a wide range of factors.
Principal ISO 9001 Cost Drivers
No ISO certification service provider can provide an ISO 9001 price list because implementation costs are relative to an organisation’s size and complexity.
As you can see from the table below, the ISO 9001 accreditation cost firms will have to bear are directly dependent on the extent of the existing quality management systems in place, the extent of management processes required, the size and relative complexity of operational structures and the optimal ISO 9001 accreditation cost UK organisations require.
|Cost Parameter||Lowest Cost £||Highest Cost £|
|Number Of Employees||Up to 100||500 and above|
|Annual Turnover||Up to £500,000||Above £5,000,000|
|Number of Locations||1||Over 10|
|Existing Quality System||Extensive procedures exist||No procedures exist|
|Accreditation||Simple audits||Complex audits|
So, what factors help establish the ISO 9001 cost for an organisation? Let’s take a look.
A. Implementation Costs
1. Employee Costs
Quite often this aspect is not measured by organisations and hidden “opportunity costs” almost always prevail with QMS project implementations. You see more often than not, staff will be spending a fair amount of time implementing the QMS rather than their core duties. This can be quite expensive if say a highly paid line manager or senior engineer is involved in creating processes and documentation for ISO 9001.
2. Acquisition of Skills and Knowledge
Knowledge of implementing ISO 9001 will naturally be gained during implementation. However, there is an additional ISO 9001 certification cost arising from the need to maintain the quality management system by ensuring that employee possess the skills required to do so via training. Training costs can be high if formal off site courses are undertaken or more modest if skills are acquired by online training and use of relevant books on the subject.
3. Using External Resource
Depending on the size and skill base of your organisation, an organisation may require additional resource to ensure smooth running of the QMS implementation project. If an organisation has limited knowledge of ISO 9001 accreditation cost impacts, insufficient staff numbers or staff who lack experience in ISO 9001 projects, then additional external resource to develop and assist with the implementation of ISO 9001 will be required.
Expert outside consultants will ensure that implantation projects keep moving forward and ensure that the organisation is not wasting time and resources on tasks like production of unnecessary documentation.
B. ISO Accreditation Cost
Once an organisation has devised its ISO 9001:2015 compliant CMS, it will then be required to have its QMS audited. In other words, inspected by an independent third party who determines if the QMS is compliant with the standard.
After a successful ISO 9001 audit, a certificate is awarded by the certification body to confirm compliance. This is an additional ISO 9001 certification cost UK organisations are required to pay. The cost of this certification is determined by the number of operational sites and employees an organisation has. It is important to note that globally recognised certification bodies often charge higher fees than country specific competitors.
C. Post Implementation Audit Costs
There is an ongoing requirement for annual “surveillance” audits in the 3 years after the initial certification audit has been completed. After the 3 year period is up, then the organisation will need to be subjected to a “re-certification” audit. It is important identify the likely costs of this activity and budget accordingly.
Implementation Methods & UK ISO 9001 Certification Costs
When considering the cost of ISO 9001 and how to become ISO certified, there is no such thing as an ISO 9001 price list. However, organisations have 3 different implementation options available to them.
Here are the 4 ways an organisation can utilise to carry out their implementation in descending order of cost effectiveness.
1. Use Specialist ISO 9001 Consultants with Online QMS Support Systems
2. Employ a General ISO Consultant
3. In House Project Team Implementation
4. Utilise Proprietary Templates
Use Specialist ISO 9001 Consultants with Online QMS Support Systems
The goal of implementing ISO 9001:2015 is not just to obtain a certificate of accreditation. It’s also about bringing about improvements to an organisation’s systems and processes in order to reduce costs, improve productivity, and provide better products and services.
Utilisation of a specialist ISO 9001 consultant like RKMS that provide complementary online support systems can deliver a lot of advantages.
ISO 9001 consultants bring unparalleled expertise to the planning and organisation of ISO 9001 implementation projects. They act as a catalyst for effective planning and “fast track” the implementation process by securing management commitment for adequate project funding.
Online Support Systems Can Reduce ISO 9001 Implementation Costs
Moreover, deployment of online support systems reduce the workload on staff, speed up implementation times and provide support continuity with the consultant after the implementation phase has finished.
A competent consultant should be able to organise as well as plan QMS project actions, assist with identification and documentation of all processes, suggest process improvements, recommend appropriate benchmarking practices, provide training customised for all relevant functions in an organisation and conduct thorough audits on restructured procedures and processes.
In this way, they can add a lot of value to an organisation’s processes based on the skill, knowledge and experience they have built up over time from working with many different types of organisations.
Get a Quicker Pay Back on Your QMS investment
When you consider the ultimate benefits that a QMS to ISO 9001 will bring to an organisation, it makes a great deal of sense from a cost benefit perspective, to utilise specialist external consultants because organisations will save time and money by getting a quicker pay back on its quality management system investment.
Employ a General ISO Consultant
Hiring a general ISO Consultant is a sound approach to adopt. ISO consultants work faster because they are not distracted by other “internal” priorities. Furthermore, they can deploy technical skills which may not exist in house or be in short supply.
ISO consultants can provide unique QMS systems tailored to the specific needs of a particular organisation and ensure that the resulting quality management system is efficient, fit for purpose and delivers real improvements in productivity. Unlike the “template” approaches described below, utilisation of ISO consultants significantly lowers the risk of “getting it wrong”.
On the other hand, ISO consultants do not publish any form of ISO 9001 price list organisations can use to glean the costs of implementing ISO 9001. The location, staffing levels, qualifications and expertise of general ISO consultants govern the relative fees of employing their services which might not prove to be the kind of affordable ISO 9001 certification cost UK organisations can justify when they can be quite high if they need to deploy significant resources to deliver a project.
There are a few other downsides to using general ISO consultants as well including limited control over their activity and the fact that they cannot provide the continuity that an employee would and their knowledge and expertise disappears when the project is finished. ISO consultants may bring fresh ideas and perspectives, but their lack of knowledge about what works and doesn’t work in your organisation as well as the nature of challenges the organisation has had to overcome in the past may compromise the cost of ISO 9001 implementation with them.
In House Project Team Implementation
Adopting a “do it yourself” approach involves assimilation of data relating to the ISO 9001 quality management standard among responsible employees. Once sufficient knowledge of the quality management system (QMS) standard is attained, the responsible employees must translate that knowledge into a meaningful interpretation of the standard for their organisation. This includes the formulation of processes, procedures, measures and management controls etc.
In addition, in depth training must then be organised to ensure efficient and effective implementation of the standard throughout the organisation’s processes.
The benefit of this approach is the knowledge held within the organisation about its processes and their documentation and perhaps minimise the ISO certification cost UK organisations may have to incur. However, the significant downside is the significant amount of time and resource required to create the required documentation, the need do the staff training afterwards and a longer implementation time required compared with other methods.
Utilise Proprietary Templates
In theory, the utilisation of ISO 9001 documentation templates can provide an acceptable method of establishing a QMS. Used wisely and intuitively by knowledgeable employees, templates can make it easier to implement the 9001 standard and reduce the ISO 9001 registrar cost.
On the other hand, used inappropriately the template approach to minimise their ISO 9001 cost can be problematical. For instance, can a prospective template system be customised to suit an organisations needs and implemented effectively and efficiently? Does the template system come with stage by stage instructions which provide a detailed explanation of how to adapt them to an organisation’s circumstances?
Remember, it is vital that the requirements of ISO 9001:2015 are applied to your organisations processes rather than concentrating on ISO 9001 certification cost alone.
Organisations using templates to create their ISO 9001 system need be to be mindful of their application. Good templates, applied with knowledge of the 9001 standard and an organisation’s procedures, might result in a good ISO 9001 QMS that will improve an organisation’s operations, make them more efficient and productive to justify the additional ISO 9001 cost UK organisations have to bear.
However, there is a major risk factor with the template approach – incorrect application.
No matter how professional an ISO template system is, it will always need customising. The key issue in this case arises when templates are “blindly” adopted without proper adaptation to an organisation’s processes. That’s because a poor ISO 9001 QMS will lead to inefficient operations and prove burdensome to the organisations operations and productivity.
This could result in wasted implementation costs, ISO accreditation costs and worst of all, increased operating costs from the organisation’s perspective.
It goes without saying that good forward planning is the key to success with any QMS implementation project.
Costs that are hidden can compromise any project. Therefore, it is extremely important to carry out a thorough assessment of all likely internal and external costs, provision for them and add a provident contingency cost on top.
A project manager should be appointed, all internal staff who need to be involved in the project identified and a tem established with clear roles and responsibilities. Once the team is up and running the scope of the quality management project should be well defined after ensuring that implementation staff have acquired the necessary skills via training and mentoring.