How valuable is accreditation?

4th of November 2016 Article by Lynn Webster
How valuable is accreditation?

What is the value of accreditation, asks ECJ’s UK correspondent Lynn Webster.

What is the Value of accreditation? Four years ago the International Accreditation Forum, IAF, commissioned a survey posing this very question, receiving responses from 4,000 managers, operating in a diverse range of organisations and across 40 global economies. Respondents were in the main responsible for quality issues within their organisation, but finance directors, marketing managers and other senior management figures also contributed.

More than 3,000 respondents reported a direct correlation between the achievement of accreditation and certification and increases in sales. This was in part attributed to the impact of customer perception. Respondents recognised that customer perception of the value of accreditation was important in determining how to proceed, and in which areas, with accreditations.

It could be argued that where clients are faced with a raft of potential suppliers - suppliers offering more or less the same service - where there is little or no price differential, and stating the ability to adhere to near identical KPI’s, then anything that is going to assist the purchase decision is a gift.

The reassurances that accreditations offer to customers, existing and potential, are difficult to quantify. Companies proclaiming their achievements can prompt existing customers to re-examine the services on offer. Where customer organisations have themselves experienced the accreditation process in one form or another they will understand how effective this rigorous process can be in facilitating improvements across systems and processes.

The IAF survey report cites improvement to internal systems and processes as a benefit of accreditation. Those in our cleaning world who have experienced accreditation in any areas where it is relevant, but particularly in relation to CIMS, (Cleaning Industry Management Standard) declare benefits include distinct business improvement including increased profits; decreases in employee turnover; gains in productivity; reduced operating expenses and opportunity for sales growth.

The examination of existing processes, even processes that are on the face of it working as expected, and examining these within an accreditation framework against a well-researched, industry-validated set of standards can provide a worthy benchmarking exercise. The beauty of this approach is that it is cost-effective and efficient, involving as it does those who both oversee these processes and apply them.

While the IAF survey was concerned with accreditation to international standards, in the fields of quality for example, the same benefits set out in the resulting report readily observe individual accreditation and certification too. Analysing one’s own performance against set standards, receiving credible education or training to address any shortfalls and working to improve accordingly, all within a supportive environment, cannot fail to assist the organisation as a whole.

Incorporate individual accreditation and development within the organisational context where accreditation is welcomed then the organisation will be several steps ahead of the competition.

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