A document established by consensus and approved by a recognised organization, which provides rules, guidelines or specifications for activities or their outputs, ensuring an optimum level of order in a given context.
The Standards play a key role in raising quality, safety, efficiency, interoperability, as well as delivering all these benefits at a lower cost.
In general, the Standards are voluntary. They become mandatory if there is any legal document that determines their compliance.
Normally, the designation of the Standards is composed of an alphabetic prefix followed by a numerical code. European standards are prefixed with EN. EN ISO identifies the European standards that resulted from the adoption of a ISO standard, that is an international standard.
The rules facilitate trade in so far as, in addition to reducing costs, they reduce the asymmetries of information between supply and demand.
What is Standardization?
Standardization is the activity that allows for the elaboration of the Standards in an organized and consensual manner on the part of the interested parties.
It facilitates relations as well as the resolution or prevention of problems.
The Standardization process allows cost reduction for suppliers and customers and increases market transparency.
This helps to create new businesses and maintain existing ones as they are a means of guaranteeing to customers that the products/services have the appropriate degree of quality, safety and environmental consciousness. In an open economy, Standardization activities are of the most importance for the reinforcement and credibility of commercial transactions, whether carried out in the domestic market or across borders
What are the Technical Standardisation Committees (TSC’s)?
The technical committees are made up of a group of experts from the thematic area under evaluation, whose mission is the development of standards.
What is Accreditation?
Accreditation consists in the evaluation and recognition of the technical competence of entities to carry out specific conformity assessment activities (e.g., tests, calibrations, certifications and inspections).
The accreditation activity is subject to Community legislation which requires harmonised operation, verified through a peer review system.
As a consequence, each EU Member State (and EFTA) has designated a single national accreditation body.
Systematic, independent and documented process for obtaining evidence and the respective objective assessment, to determine the extent to which audit criteria are fulfilled.
FIRST PARTY AUDIT OR INTERNAL AUDIT An audit performed by the organisation itself, using internal or external auditors to it.
SECOND PARTY AUDIT OR A SUPPLIER AUDIT Audit performed by parties with direct interest in the organisation, such as their clients, according to a set of requirements defined by them.
THIRD PARTY AUDIT Audit performed by external, independent organizations, and in accordance with the defined standards framework (audits for certification purposes).
What is Certification?
Conformity assessment process, carried out by recognized entities, which aims to demonstrate that a given management system, product, process or service, complies with the requirements that apply to it.
In some cases the conformity assessment is legally required, usually related to the safety of that product or service.
The conformity assessment may also be a contractual requirement or a guarantee that a given product or service fits the intended use.
What are the main advantages of certification for an organisation?
Focus on customer satisfaction, constantly seeking to meet your needs and expectations;
Internal organisation, through a clear definition of roles and responsibilities, identification of operational and support processes, definition of objectives through processes and respective mechanisms of monitoring and measurement, and implementation of internal control methodologies;
Implementation of a culture of continuous improvement, always looking for the efficiency and effectiveness of the activities carried out;
Access to new markets and business opportunities;
Evaluation by external, independent and credible entity, with the objective of identifying areas for improvement.
How long can a certification process take?
The duration of a certification process depends on the degree of implementation of the Standard requirements and evidences.
The organization needs to have already defined at an earlier stage the necessary resources for the correct implementation of the selected Standard framework.
APCER further defines in its general certification regulation a set of mandatory requirements at the time of the audit.
Does Certification entail major changes in my organisation? How to get started?
The depth of the changes required for a certification process depend greatly on the organizational culture present in the organization.
In the initial phase, it is necessary to carry out an internal evaluation to identify all points of non-compliance with the standard to be implemented.
Subsequently, a plan of corrective actions should be defined with the identification of the causes of the situation, the actions to be implemented so that the situation does not recur, those responsible for its implementation, the execution deadlines and the necessary resources.
After the respective plan has been put in place, it is advisable that a new internal evaluation is carried out to verify the degree of implementation of the actions and their effectiveness.