What Does It Cost to Become ISO 9001:2015 Certified?

Consider Cost of ISO 9001:2015 Certification as a Business InvestmentIn this article, we summarize the costs for implementing a quality management system and achieving ISO 9001:2015 certification.

The costs and time needed to upgrade your operations to meet the standard’s criteria and to achieve registration depend on many things, so actual estimates are not possible here.

Improving Your Operations to Become ISO 9001:2015 Compliant

Things to consider and budget for:

  • Learning the standard: During implementation it’s important to gain the knowledge necessary not only to implement (or upgrade) your quality management system but also to maintain it following certification. This will require employees to read the standard and attend training.
  • Company Time: This is one of the hidden costs of ISO 9001 implementation. One of the main points of the standard is to include a focus on management processes such as planning, risk management, engagement of people, and more. Company leader involvement is more critical than might normally be expected when improving operations to meet an industry standard.

    Employees also have only so much time. It needs to be balanced between doing their jobs to keep the business running and participating in only those QMS implementation tasks that only they can do and have high value in building and managing the QMS. For example, using them to determine which documents are mandatory for the standard is not a good use of their time.

  • External help: It’s likely the employee training won’t be enough. If you don’t have employees with experience in ISO 9001 implementation, you’ll need someone who does have such knowledge. Such help can be critical in making sure no time is spent on activities that won’t move the implementation forward or on developing documentation not needed by your company nor the standard. This help can come from consultants and other sources.

Choosing an ISO 9001-Accredited Registrar

When you are ready to pursue certification, the next steps are:

  • Research and select accredited registrars (at least 3) from whom to obtain quotes.
  • Complete their questionnaires.
  • Receive their proposals and select one.

The above steps don’t have fees associated with them, but the involved employees will need to spend time to select the best registrar to meet your needs.

ISO 9001 Certification / Registration

When you have chosen a registrar, you will enter into a three-year contract with them. The contract outlines the obligations, liability, confidentiality and access rights. The registrar will perform the Initial Certification Audit in Year 1 and then additional surveillance audits at the agreed-upon frequency for the remainder of the 3-year cycle.

Pricing for registrar services should include:

  • The number of audit days. This is the biggest portion of the cost. Standard IAF MD5 defines audit days.
  • Administrative and accreditation fees for the registrar’s services. For example, Cavendish Scott, a quality and environmental consulting firm, surveyed accredited ISO 9001 registrars on behalf of a client seeking certification. The article clearly define’s the client’s circumstances on which these estimates were based, so please keep those in mind when comparing this information with your own needs.
  • Travel/accommodation costs. These could include mileage, airfare, cab/rental car, parking/tolls, hotel, and meals. Be sure your contract with the registrar clearly states estimates and who pays for what.

The Initial Certification Audit

The Initial Certification Audit involves two stages on-site at the relevant facility(s).

  • Stage 1 confirms the readiness of the company for a full audit.
  • Stage 2 confirms that the quality management system fully conforms to the requirements of ISO 9001:2015 in practice. The auditor’s assessment will reveal whether there are any non-conformances with the standard. If so, corrective action will be required. Depending on the severity of the non-conformance, certification may proceed or it may be delayed until the non-conformance is remedied.

Interim Audits as an ISO 9001:2015-Certified Company

As the final step of the initial certification, the registrar will recommend a surveillance audit program. Your organization decides how often that will be done.

  • The total surveillance days each year will be about one-third the duration of the stage 2 certification audit.
  • Each visit will always assess certain key elements of the system, for example, internal audit, management review, customer satisfaction, and corrective action.
  • A sample of the other areas of the system will be examined during the visits, with all the areas being assessed over the three-year life of the certificate.

ISO 9001 Re-Certification Audit

Every three years, the QMS will be assessed again. The recertification audit duration will be about two-thirds as long as the stage 2 audit.

As with the initial certification audit, pricing for this step is based on the number of audit days.

Assuming the assessment doesn’t find any major non-conformances, the audit team can recommend the organization for continued certification. After receipt of an acceptable corrective plan for any minor non-conformances, the certification body will reissue the ISO 9001 certificate.

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