Don’t be put off by thinking it is too complex a thing to do. We aren’t saying it’s simple, but with us doing the bulk of the work for you, including managing the whole process, it is relatively straightforward.
Here are the following stages to becoming and staying certified to ISO 17020:
There is more detailed information below about the various stages you need to go through.
ISO 17020 is an accredited standard, which means that in the UK only UKAS can audit you and issue a certificate. Beware, they operate on long lead times, so
(1) The certificate is valid for 4 years. 6 months after being initially accredited, UKAS returns to complete the first surveillance audit.
For more detail visit UKAS accreditation guidance.
There is no escaping the fact that as they are accredited standards, UKAS is very thorough in their auditing of your system, and are usually very knowledgeable in your sector. You do have to be precise in everything you do and say. You must make sure documentation is complete and accurate, and that staff absolutely follow operational processes.
However, it can be done and Episode will make the journey as smooth as possible, based on our previous experience of helping clients through the process.
Done wrong, absolutely. Too many systems we see have a form or document to cover every aspect of the standard. That’s the easy way to build a system, and an equally easy way to cripple you operationally. You know when this is the case when you spend a month “updating” (i.e. creating false) records, etc. before the auditor next comes.
Done right, as we will make sure it is, the system should be at the core of how you work. Remember, we make ISO work for you, not the other way around.
It is difficult to give precise timescales, as it depends on a number of things such as how complex the business is, how close you are to complying with the standard already, and so on. We recommend planning for it taking at least 3 months.
For a fixed cost we will do as much of the work as possible, and guarantee certification. We do as much work as we can onsite with you, and we have several clients that have been through the UKAS accreditation process with us.
Episode has worked with over 40 clients, many of whom have more than one standard they comply with (one has 5). All have been successfully certified and many subsequently ask us to help them maintain certification, and get more out of the system.
There are the following costs that will arise
Episode always gives a fixed fee proposal for a project, and we include guaranteed certification. A typical ISO 17020 project is about £9,500, but this does depend on the size and complexity of your business.
UKAS costs are typically £10,000 plus. You can save money by not doing the (optional) pre-assessment visit (See comments in accreditation above).
This very much depends on what you do, and what needs to be done to comply (such as have equipment calibrated by a UKAS accredited lab, train staff to professional qualifications, etc.
ISO 17020:2012, Conformity assessment -- Requirements for the operation of various types of bodies performing inspection, is the quality management system specification for organisations that carry out any kind of inspection or testing. Typical sectors include asbestos management agencies (Such as Asbestos Management Consultancy, one of our clients) and destructive or non-destructive testing houses (such as TexTex UK Limited, another one of our clients).
ISO 17020:2012 is based on, and is intended to compliment, ISO 9001, the ISO standard for quality management systems for any organisation. ISO 17020 in simple terms says there are specific expectations and requirement for testing and inspection environments that are mandatory in an inspection body’s quality management system. As ISO 9001 is the general standard, testing or inspection houses which meet the requirements of ISO 17020 also operate in accordance with the requirements of ISO 9001 that are relevant to their activities.
It lays out the elements of your business management system that must be in place, such as impartiality and independence, structural and staff qualifications requirements, facilities and equipment ,and so on. There is special emphasis on inspector competency and the completeness/accuracy of inspection reports/records.
It was only by utilising the expert guidance and experience of ‘Episode Ltd.’ That Thurston Group was able to attain certification within an exceptionally challenging time frame. We therefore offer our thanks to Episode Ltd. For the diligent and professional services provided. We also look forward to working with them again soon and would not hesitate to recommend their services."
Peter Spieight, Senior Divisional Director, Thurston Group, Wakefield
Roger's support was invaluable in terms of gap analysis, recommendations for improvement, and facilitation of the certification process. I would strongly recommend Roger to any organisation wishing to develop or improve its management systems, in a way which minimizes bureaucracy, and focuses on best serving the needs of the organization.
Gary Evans, Flour Corporation, Abu Dhabi