Cybersecurity is a minefield of complicated acronyms, codes and names, so it’s important to understand the basics to make sure that your business is fully compliant with the security regulations set out internationally. ISO certification is by no means enforced by law, however, non-compliance can be a costly prospect in terms of losing customers for organisations in a number of specific industries.
If you work in engineering, construction, hospitality, technology or healthcare, you may already be aware of some common regulations, however, why you need them and how to get them isn’t always so clear.
So, first things first:
What Is ISO?
The ISO, or International Organisation for Standardisation, is an independent company that sets global standards across several different industries to ensure the health and safety and low environmental impact of different companies across the globe. While there is no legal requirement to meet any of these standards, many organisations across the world have received certificates to prove they meet ISO standards in order to show to their customer base and industry rivals that their business understands the importance of innovation and creative solutions to global problems.
ISO set out a number of regulations after interacting with industry leaders and experts to decide on the best international standard for working practices in specific areas, such as the standards for assuring the quality of customer products and services, the ISO 9000s, or ISO 27001, the standard for keeping online data secure.
Despite ISO creating the standards and regulations, they don’t award certificates to compliant businesses; that role is taken on by other organisations.
What Is UKAS?
The United Kingdom Accreditation Service, or UKAS for short, is the organisation in the UK that is responsible for awarding certificates to ISO-compliant companies and those who work on its behalf i.e. other British and Northern Irish organisations who award compliance certificates.
Although not an official governmental department, UKAS is licensed to work on behalf of the UK government to assure standards checkers in the UK are awarding ISO compliance certification appropriately, as well as award their own certification to the businesses and organisations that are appropriate.
Put simply, when an organisation in the UK understands the importance of ISO compliance and wishes to be awarded official certification to prove their compliance, they have to invest in a UKAS-accredited organisation to assess the workings of their organisation and verify their systems before awarding a compliance certificate.
You can only receive certificates from UKAS-accredited organisations as UKAS themselves have seen these organisations demonstrate the necessary abilities and impartiality to fairly award ISO compliance certificates to other businesses. This ability to assess, audit and certify that UKAS is responsible for checking is the ISO 17021 standard.
What Is QMS?
Our third important acronym regarding international standards is QMS, which stands for Quality Management System. While many businesses will be familiar with a CMS to help stay on top of all of their content, a QMS is a system that keeps a record of processes and objectives regarding customer satisfaction that organisations must adhere to in order to meet certain regulatory standards, so that they can be improved and optimised.
Like a CMS, a QMS is a helpful tool for businesses following the inbound methodology, which strives for business growth as a result of satisfied customers. However, customer satisfaction is not the only international standard, so a QMS might not be enough for your business to shine in its industry.
What Is ISO 9001?
ISO 9001, is part of the ISO 9000 standard group and is the only one that can be certified. It can take anywhere from 3 to 18 months to receive the ISO 9001 accreditation, depending on the size of your business. The ISO 9001 standard is incredibly important because it sets the requirements for Quality Management Systems to ensure that customers consistently receive high-quality products and services from the businesses they frequent, regardless of their industry.
Essentially, ISO 9001 ensures QMSs work well to serve customers to the highest standards, which is audited and certified by UKAS-accredited businesses, who themselves meet ISO 17021, which is certified by UKAS. We can see why you might be confused…
The difference between UKAS and QMS is that QMS refers to the ISO 9001 standard, which is set by the ISO and regulated in the UK by UKAS and the organisations that UKAS deem responsible and impartial enough. UKAS is simply the British organisation that oversees the proper auditing and ISO certification of other UK organisations.
Why Is Working With a UKAS-Accredited Business Beneficial?
UKAS is the only British organisation that can approve other British organisations to audit and award ISO certification to other businesses, so if you want to receive certification that states your business meets ISO standards, you need to work with a UKAS-accredited business. The equivalent of UKAS in Europe would be the EA, European co-operation for Accreditation.
Industries such as engineering, construction, hospitality, technology and healthcare benefit from ISO certificates, especially ISO 9001, as they need to be more open about their processes, have a low environmental impact and have high standards of customer service to meet modern consumer standards. However, these days, all businesses, big and small, across all industries, can benefit from working with a UKAS-accredited business.
Two of the main benefits of working with a UKAS-accredited business are:
- Assurance of meeting global standards
- Better reputation in your industry
By working with a UKAS-accredited business, you’re proving to your customers that you’re striving to make your company the best it can be by adhering to global standards of quality, safety, security and working practices. Customers in the modern day want to know more about a company they give their business to, from its stance on global affairs and human rights, to how it creates the best quality product with the lowest possible environmental impact, as well as knowing that they will be treated fairly and their private data will be handled securely.
The ISO was set up to ensure that while some companies are held accountable for their failings, others are supported in becoming the best business they can be, and customers are able to receive the best products and services internationally.
UKAS-accredited businesses are here to help those businesses receive their ISO certificates, so they can reap the benefits of meeting globally recognised standards.
ISO certification itself has the following benefits:
- Proving the safety of products
- Proving high-quality service or product
- Showing consistency of product or service
- Establishing authority in the industry
This, in turn, leads to increased business and increased customer satisfaction, turning your funnel-style sales process into a spinning flywheel where more customers produce more customers.
How Long Is UKAS Certification Valid?
UKAS certification is given to organisations that meet the ISO 17021 standard and can go on to audit other businesses and award ISO certificates. Both UKAS and ISO certificates have expiration dates.
UKAS certification is valid for four years and organisations must be reassessed before another certificate is awarded, while ISO certificates are valid for three years.
Why Work with Creative Networks?
Creative Networks understands the importance of ISO certification for many businesses across a range of industries, to prove their reliability to their customers and out-perform competitors, which is why we provide services to help keep your organisation compliant with cybersecurity regulations and international standards, so you can achieve the most important ISO certificates, like ISO 27001 and ISO 9001. With our team of experts and working relations with UKAS auditors, we’ll help you grow your business.