The turn of a year is a good time to review your ongoing contracts, to verify that you are getting a good deal. In today’s market, 3rd party certification for doors, windows, glass and fire resistant products is increasingly becoming a requirement. If you already have certification, it is likely that your annual renewal is due to happen shortly, and therefore now is the time to review what you are getting. As with other products and services, it is important to not just review the headline price, but the overall service that you are receiving.

It is worth noting that the market for 3rd party certification has become very competitive over the past few years, particularly for schemes catering for Secured By Design requirements. Several new players have entered the market and the level of service offered by the different certification bodies can vary substantially. Allowing the renewal to go ahead unchecked may leave you with an unnecessarily high bill, and a service level that is far worse than you could have achieved elsewhere.

Bluesky Certification has been talking to manufacturers and installers over the past few months, to determine what they consider to be important features of a certification scheme, so that these can be included within the service provided. Some of the key points that come up regularly are as follows:

Customer service – it is important to be able to reach the right person for any queries regarding the certification.
Speed of response – if a change is needed to the certification scope, this needs to be dealt with promptly. This is particularly important if the change is needed to comply with a tender – a slow response could cost far more than the certification fees.
Pragmatic approach – providing credible certification doesn’t necessarily prevent the certification body from being realistic about the demands placed on its customers. The balance between achieving credibility and understanding the commercial realities that customers face is tricky, and some bodies manage this better than others.
Auditing approach – when your certification body comes to audit, does it feel like they are working with you to achieve compliance, or does it seem like a battle to find something that they can say is wrong? A good certification scheme will focus on the issues that make a difference, which will add value to your operation.
Communication of updates regarding changes to standards and regulations, for example, manufacturers of doors and windows needing to transition from PAS 24:2012 to PAS 24:2016. The certification body will need to keep itself up to date, but how (or whether) they communicate this information to their customers is important.
Value for money – certification is rarely cheap. However, if you feel that you have achieved value from the process, the expense won’t be a grudge purchase.
If you are considering purchasing certification, or are already involved in a scheme, you should determine what you require from the scheme. If your existing certification body doesn’t meet that requirement, shop around, as it may be that another body will.

If you do decide that another certification body is likely to better serve your requirement, the transfer process may not be as difficult as you think. Most UKAS accredited bodies will transfer your certification from another UKAS accredited body as a desktop exercise, reviewing what has been done by the previous certification body. The transfer process is likely to be free, meaning that all you need to do is apply and then provide up to date paperwork to show that there are no issues with your certification.

It is worth looking at your certification to ensure that it is still suitable for your business and the perfect time to do it is before your annual renewal. There are real differences in terms of service, response speed and approach, so finding the most appropriate certification body will benefit you financially and allow you to achieve a better service.