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Going down the ISO 9000 Route? – Buy wisely advises UKAS


QualityZoneToo many of Britain’s flourishing small companies run the risk of undermining their long term success by purchasing services that are not accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS). Certification of quality management systems (ISO 9000) is one of them.

About 80,000 ISO 9000 certificates have been issued in the UK. Of this number it is estimated that 20% are not UKAS accredited and the number is probably rising.

If a small company (SME) is going down the ISO 9000 route there are two key risks to be avoided – rejected tenders or goods and increased/unnecessary costs.

It is easy to avoid rejected tenders and goods. Checking that the customer accepts the certification body which issues ISO 9000 certificates can do this. However, as most organisations have a variety of customers so the simplest way of satisfying them all is to use an accredited certification body. A good example of this is the MoD, which has a policy of only accepting contractors who can demonstrate UKAS accredited certification. If the ISO 9000 certificate has not been issued by an UKAS accredited body the SME is not eligible to tender.

Given that most SMEs are “forced” to obtain an ISO 9000 certificate in order to have access to new markets, it is sensible to avoid the risk of not being able to access markets as anticipated, because of an unaccredited certificate.

The other danger of purchasing ISO 9000 from a non-UKAS accredited source is knowing whether it (the source) is competent. It often comes as a surprise to learn that anyone can set themselves up as certification body (or for that matter any other evaluator).

Anyone could go into any company and issue an ISO 9000 certificate. The danger of using a certification body that isn’t competent is that it could result in an SME being less, not more, effective by requiring it do things that are not necessary – just to get a certificate.

Lord Sainsbury, Minister for Science and Innovation, is quoted as saying:

"The Government wants the best for British business and for British business to be the best. That is why it is important that, when businesses purchase goods and services, need management systems to be certified or require testing or calibration facilities, they choose UKAS accredited organisations."

If you want to source from a UKAS accredited certification or inspection body please visit our website; if you require the use of a UKAS accredited testing or calibration laboratory please visit

The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) is the sole body recognised by Government for the assessment, against internationally recognised standards, of organisations that provide certification, testing, inspection and calibration services. Accreditation demonstrates the organisation’s impartiality, competence and performance capability. UKAS accredited organisations are identifiable by the Royal Crown in their accreditation marks.


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