ISO Certification
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ISO Certification costs: what you need to know

Everyone tells you about the benefits of ISO certification (improvement of your processes, access to new markets, customer loyalty, cost reduction, participation in tenders and contracts). Still, no one ever tells you the cost of ISO certification. Let’s try to clarify things a little.

ISO certification is only one of the phases (among other things, not always mandatory) of a management system implementation project.

ISO certification is only one of the phases (among other things, not always mandatory) of a management system implementation project.

  • The phases of a management system implementation and certification project
  • ISO 9001 certification costs of ISO certification consultancy
  • Costs of ISO certification
  • Internal costs of implementing ISO certification
  • Expenses to bring unmanaged legal aspects back into compliance
  • Annual maintenance costs
  • Let’s summarize

The 14 benefits of a certification

The phases of a management system implementation and certification project

The phases you need to consider are (in all these phases the consultant can accompany and support you):

Analysis of existing processes;

  • Alignment of existing processes to ISO requirements and system construction.
  • Training of staff working for the company.
  • Internal audit (verification of correct alignment and implementation of established procedures).
  • Initiation and management of corrective actions following internal audit.
  • Management review and definition of system improvement objectives.
  • Certification (audit by a certification body):
    • Stage 1 (documentary verification)
    • Stage 2 (field and operational verification).

The ISO certification costs you need to consider are:

  • Costs of any consultancy that will support you.
  • Certification costs (related to certification body audits).
  • Internal implementation costs (the provision of resources and personnel to build, launch, and operate the system).
  • Costs to bring unmanaged legal aspects back into compliance (for example, in the environmental or safety field, the absence of a fire prevention certificate will be critical, and you will have to remedy it).

As you can see, it is not easy to give an immediate answer to the question in the title. We will analyze the various costs together to give you clear indications.

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ISO 9001 certification consultancy costs

It is not mandatory to use a ISO Certification 9001 consultancy service, an employee experienced in management systems can conduct the process without further costs.

However, should you need it, the cost of a day of consultancy can vary greatly depending on numerous factors:

  • Geographic area.
  • A person who provides the consultancy (the freelancer with a VAT number will give significantly lower estimates than important consultancy companies with well-positioned brands).
  • Type of system to be implemented (an ISO 9001 does not require the same expertise as an ISO 14001).

An ISO consultancy project for a single system for a medium-small company and a single location can vary from 5 to 10/12 days (also, in this case, it depends on the size, system to be implemented, and processes).

You can do the math quickly too, but for simplicity’s sake I’ll give you the cost range of a consultancy project:

  • MINIMUM: ISO 9001 project for small craftsman conducted by a freelancer with a few years of experience with VAT number: 1,250 Pound excluding VAT (online you can find those who declare even less “starting from”);
  • MAXIMUM: ISO 14001 project for a medium-small company with a prestigious consultancy firm: 12,000 Pound excluding VAT.

For micro and small businesses, it is possible to reduce costs thanks to online mentoring paths in optimized steps, which allow the implementation of the system with the continuous guided support of a consultant.

The latter, by reducing travel costs and ineffective times that may arise from the customer, also allows the company to save significantly. A path like this guarantees numerous other advantages in terms of system effectiveness, real change in the company, and environmental sustainability.

Costs of ISO certification

The cost of the ISO certification phase varies greatly depending on numerous factors:

  • Company size.
  • Number of sites to check.
  • Number of processes to verify.
  • Number and type of systems to be verified.
  • Travel costs.
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An ISO 9001 project for a small craftsman could involve a certification audit of 1 or 2 man-days, while an audit for an ISO 14001 or an ISO 45001 can take 5 or 6 man-days, even more, for a medium-sized company.

Internal costs of implementing ISO certification

The management system cannot be delegated to a function that takes charge of making it work, the management system is the company in its entirety, and everyone must conduct their processes, let’s be clear.

However, you will have to appoint one of your internal resources to follow the implementation and certification project and ensure internal training for all staff.

Usually, one person is selected, however many companies prefer a team of 2 or 3, possibly including the consultant. You can consider a commitment of around 1/4 days per month, for the entire period which is usually between 4 and 12 months, it depends on the case and how fast you want to be.

Costs to bring unmanaged legal aspects back into compliance

It frequently happens that during a system implementation project, especially environment and safety, non-compliant mandatory situations emerge.

For example, the fire prevention certificate has not been renewed, the emissions or discharge authorization is no longer in force, the legal maintenance has not been carried out on the machinery, and the DVR is not updated.

All these non-conformities necessarily involve resolutions that have a cost. I can’t make estimates, but you’ll get the idea.

Annual maintenance costs

All the costs we have analyzed so far are valid for the first certification.

Maintaining the certificate has subsequent annual costs, estimated at approximately half of what was spent in the first year. To guarantee internal audits, maintenance audits of the certification body, further training, management of processes, etc.

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Let’s summarize

I think the interesting question is not how much a certification costs, but whether it is a suitable investment for your business.

ISO certification is a path of continuous improvement, which has a beginning, but not an end.

A good start is to carefully choose the partners you will use (consultants, certification bodies, internal staff), partners who can give you added value and allow you to embark on a path to raise the standards of your processes, satisfy the market, and stakeholders, and protect the environment.

Ultimately you need to choose partners who will offer you support to build a better approach to managing the business and maintain thriving long-term success.

It depends on the advantages it brings.

The 14 benefits of a certification

A well-designed and functioning Management System can help you in many ways:

  • Supports in the definition of a strategy and improvement objectives;
  • Reduces risks for years to come;
  • Defines automatic and measurable processes, to monitor the progress of your business at every moment;
  • Increases the chances of staying on the market for a long time;
  • Decreases production or service costs;
  • Improves productivity, reduces waste, reduces sanctions for mismanagement of legal aspects;
  • Attracts more qualified and motivated people;
  • Has positive effects on the brand and its reputation, credibility, and loyalty;
  • Has positive effects on the internal (employee) and external (stakeholder) relationship system;
  • Allows access to regulated markets and increases profits (in some sectors certification is mandatory or provides greater business opportunities);
  • Provides a reliable tool to implement a continuous improvement strategy;
  • Raises the culture and competence of management and staff in managing the company;
  • Allows product/service differentiation;
  • Provides greater possibilities for radical innovations

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