World Wide Certification through IQNet

IQNet is an international network for Certification Bodies and Inspecta is one of its members. The association enables smooth co-operation between different certification bodies all over the world. How does this work in practice? Tony Di Palma from IQNet, Stefan Fagerström from Inspecta and Jarkko Korhonen from Salcomp tell us more.

IQNet is not only an option for global certification, it is even better: IQNet could be regarded as one big globally operating certification body, as the network ensures the same auditing approach in all countries operated. In many cases knowledge about local language, culture and laws are essential for effective and value-adding management system auditing.

Through IQNet it is possible to work with local auditors fully or partly all over the world. For example Inspecta can audit a customer company’s management system in Finland, while in Asia a local IQNet partner is used to audit the Asian operations.  The network uses uniform operating principles including peer assessments, which ensures that all networked companies work with similar procedures. For many international companies certification through IQNet has proved to be the best way to handle audits.

Network of number one players

IQNet Managing Director, Tony Di Palma tells: “IQNet has in total 37 partner certification bodies with over 200 subsidiaries worldwide. Approximately 25 % of all management system certifications issued globally have been delivered through IQNet partners. This means over 300 000Tony Di Palma, IQNet certificates in total”. Each partner in IQNet administers a range of certification and assessment schemes. These include for example quality management (ISO 9001) and environmental management (ISO 14001) systems and even more unique and specialist schemes like social accountability certification and supplier assessments or corporate governance assessments.

Wouldn’t it be easier to use one global player? According to Di Palma IQNet offers several advantages that are not available otherwise. “Many of the largest certification organizations offer certification schemes globally. Their reputation and recognition may however vary greatly throughout the countries. IQNet is different because the IQNet network is made up of premier national, regional and international certification bodies. In the majority of regions, IQNet partners are rated as the number one certification body in their country; being the largest and best performing provider of certification services”, he explains. Another big advantage is the knowledge and innovation sharing. “Partner collaboration allows each IQNet partner to rapidly access a wide range of specialist certification schemes without delay, at lower costs and without needing to re-invent the wheel”, Di Palma states.

Cost-effective and convenient

Stefan Fagerström, Inspecta

Stefan Fagerström, Inspecta’s Business Unit manager for system certification, summarizes the same pros as Tony Di Palma. “For InspectaIQNet means a certain quality level. Sometimes we need help outside of our home market. With IQNet we can count on support, and we can trust that the help is of good quality. Lately I for example visited one of our clients in China. We performed the first audit together with a local partner. That Chinese partner will carry on with the audits from now on, which is both cost-effective and convenient for all parties”, Fagerström says.

Operations expand, partners remain

Salcomp is one of the companies to have real-life experience of IQNet co-operation both sides of our globe. This Finland-based, world leading company develops and manufactures chargers for mobile phones and other electronic devices. Inspecta and Salcomp have co-operated since 1995, when the firstcertificate was issued in Finland. International co-work came into agenda in 2002 as Salcomp started to broaden its operations to China, India and Brazil.

“The operations have expanded, but the quality management system has been assessed by the same Finnish lead auditor in all our factories”, says Jarkko Korhonen, Vice President for Quality & Environment at Salcomp. “ItSalcomp, India is valuable to receive an outside view of the big picture: how we have managed to implement certain things in each country, which best practices should apply everywhere, how we have developed our systems and processes since the last audit. Long co-operation plays a significant role. That way the auditor learns to know the way we work.”

Environmental issues require 

local knowledge

Salcomp’s environment management systems have instead been audited by local IQNet partners. “There it is essential to have more focus on local legislation and standards. To be able to audit them, also knowledge of the local language is needed”, Korhonen points out a good example of IQNet co-operation in practice. “The audits have worked well like this. In the future I think even more attention will be paid to Health & Safety and to corporate responsibility. However it is still a bit unclear how these things can be assessed in common ways, which are the standards. As things developed I hope to see even deeper co-operation between Salcomp, Inspecta and the network in these issues”, says Korhonen.

Finnish audits in Finland for international companies

At the end Stefan Fagerström also reminds that IQNet partnership also applies vice versa: “In Finland Inspecta has knowledge of the language and legislation. IQNet partners know that we can do the audits here”. Fagerström belongs to IQNet harmonization team, which aims at exchanging experiences and best practices among the partner organizations. “We get the most recent knowledge of what is going on in the certification world, for example what new products are available. Inspecta’s membership in IQNet has never really been questioned as the pros are pretty obvious”, concludes Fagerström.

More information on IQNet can be found here.

Page created: 01 Mar 2011