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Assessment Focus: UKAS Accreditation

Posted by Altius on Nov 3, 2009 4:40:19 PM

After submitting the Altius ‘Quality’ questionnaire, a number of vendors are surprised when they receive feedback that regrettably informs them that they have not met the requirements for award of the Altius ‘Quality’ globe. Frequently this is because their Quality Management System has not been audited and certificated by a United Kingdom Accreditation Services (UKAS) accredited certification body.

Even though not gaining the Altius ‘Quality’ globe will not prevent achievement of ‘Altius Assured’ status, the news can give rise to incredulity, confusion, and sometimes even a little anger! Whilst all of this may be quite understandable in the circumstances, may we take the opportunity here to lay out exactly what the Altius stance on ISO 9001 certification is, and the reasons why.

Firstly, Altius do not, and have no wish to, perform any detailed audit of your ISO 9000 system. The standard is well established, well understood and widely implemented and all Altius wish to do as a third party assessment organisation is to ensure that companies are assessed fairly against consistent criteria – the ‘level playing field’ scenario. This sounds simple but it isn’t. ISO 9000 is a victim of its own success.

Because the standard is so widely implemented there are a plethora of certification bodies who will audit and ‘certificate’ your management systems; some good, some bad and some indifferent. If Altius is to do its job properly we have to try and avoid ‘bad’ and ‘indifferent’. The only way we know to do this efficiently is to look for certification from an organisation that has the only UK government approved accreditation – UKAS.

To quote from the UKAS website, “The United Kingdom Accreditation Service is the sole national accreditation body recognised by government to assess, against internationally agreed standards, organisations that provide certification, testing, inspection and calibration services. Accreditation by UKAS demonstrates the competence, impartiality and performance capability of these evaluators”. UKAS is a non-profit-distributing company, limited by guarantee, and operates under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government through the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills.

That’s why we insist on UKAS accreditation for your ISO 9001 certification body. We are not saying that your Quality Management System is no good if your certificate doesn’t contain the UKAS ‘tick and crown’. It may well be that it works for you, and some of your clients are more than happy with what you do. Our point is that to be fair and consistent the only certification we will recognise has to be from a UKAS accredited organisation.

For more info go to www.ukas.com

Topics: Assessment Focus