After talks with hundreds of quality and safety managers, we saw a pattern emerge we weren’t really aware of. We started to notice that there is some kind of implicit impact certification bodies (CB) have on companies. This impact can be quite severe, and we don’t think all CB or external auditors are aware of this. It basically comes down to being afraid to change because of what the external auditor might think of it.
Implementing any kind of change in an organization is already hard to do. People have the natural ability to resist change with every fiber in their body. Finding a modus in which the company is willing to change can be quite challenging. You need very good reasons why this particular change moves the company forward. This is also where the continuous improvement in lots of the ISO standards gets challenging. They want the company to improve, and therefore change.
Impact of Certifying Body
Most external auditors have a great deal of impact on an organization, even though they are only there 3-5 days a year. They want companies to change or notice certain NCRs that need to be solved. This all can mean quite a workload for companies. Because the ISO certificate is a license to operate for many companies, they don’t really go against the auditor and simply implement what is required. This can lead to a non-functional management system because of so many different influences by all the external auditors. Even though this new management system isn’t really desired, some companies think it is the only way. The fact that the external auditors are able to force change is quite a good thing, even though we strongly believe you should never do something just for the auditor. Every change should always have value for the organization as well.
However, the external auditors also have a big negative impact on change, namely being afraid to change. Certain companies aren’t willing to change because they are afraid whether the external auditor accepts the new way of working. We get this question quite a lot ourselves, and luckily, have a big portfolio of companies to prove that the auditors are happy with it. The fact that these questions arise does show the big influence the certification body has on the choices the company makes, even though the external auditors are hardly there. Companies should be more willing to make their own decisions and be able to explain to the certification bodies why certain changes are made and that it is a net positive for the company.