INetQI, the global community association for quality infrastructure, is very active in disseminating information. One of the most recent initiatives is the Business Benefits website, https://business-benefits.org, where case studies inform about the benefits of accredited quality infrastructure services.
Conformity assessment refers to a set of processes that demonstrate that a product, service or management system meets the requirements of a standard. Conformity assessment, i.e. testing, inspection, certification and verification, covers several aspects, all of which contribute to giving people confidence and safety when using and buying products and services.
The website presents case studies, research and supporting material uploaded by members of the global quality infrastructure. Companies themselves and other interested parties are invited to contribute to the website with their positive experiences of the global quality infrastructure. The examples published on the site present tangible data to evidence the cost savings achieved whether through resource efficiency or meeting regulation at a lower cost, the value of accessing new markets, savings achieved through recognition from organisations such as insurers, regulators or buyers or evidence of environmental protection.
The website offers various search options by (1) standard, (2) economy, (3) sector and (4) benefit.
So far there are search possibilities for thirteen of the most well-known internationally used ISO and IEC standards (ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 20000, ISO 22301, ISO 24803, ISO 50001, ISO 55001, ISO/IEC 17020, ISO/IEC 17021-1, ISO/IEC 17024, ISO/IEC17025 and OHSAS 18001). Other important standards, such as for product certification ISO/IEC 17065 and information security management systems ISO/IEC 27001 are still missing. However, this can certainly be addressed in the course of further development of the website. It would be also important to refer to the ISO 45001 on occupational health and safety, which replaces the OHSAS 18001.
It is also possible to search by country. So far, thirty-two countries are listed. However, the accreditation community refers to economies rather than countries.
It is not yet possible to search by sector. Here too, we assume that this possibility of a targeted search will be available in the future.
The main search category refers to the various benefits of using accredited conformity assessment services. There are many cases where standards and accredited conformity assessment help companies of all sizes and in all sectors to reduce costs, increase productivity and enter new markets. The website summerizes six benefits of accreditation for companies:
- Delivering cost savings: Standards and accredited conformity assessment services can help achieve cost savings in all areas of business from purchasing, production, sales, R&D, quality assurance, environmental protection and occupational health & safety. They can also generate internal efficiencies through lower energy use, reduced waste, and greater resilience.
- Enhancing environmental performance: The need to measure environmental performance or limit ecological impact is a crucial focus for many organisations. Accredited testing, calibration, inspection and certification provide consumers, suppliers, purchasers and specifiers with assurance about environmental-related claims made. These services also offer Government and Regulators with reliable evidence of compliance. These case studies show how businesses are using fewer resources, cutting waste, increasing recycling and reducing energy costs.
- Expanding market opportunities: The use of standards and accredited conformity assessment are increasingly being required in the supply chain and are appearing in a growing number of tender documents. They provide purchasers with confidence that products are safe, reliable and meet specification. As a result, they provide access to new markets and opportunities. International standards and mutual recognition accreditation agreements facilitate trade through the removal of technical barriers to trade and the reduction in potential transactional costs.
- Gaining quality improvement: Organisations that use standards and accredited conformity assessment have higher levels of satisfied customers, more efficient ways of working, better control of their costs, and greater control over their internal processes and competence of staff. Case studies refer, for example, to how firms increase the resilience of their IT systems, manage assets better, and improve the attractiveness of their products and services in the market.
- Improving company performance: Standards, certification, testing, inspection and accreditation, help businesses to reduce costs, increase productivity and access new markets. The examples evidence the cost savings achieved whether through resource efficiency or meeting regulation at a lower cost, the value of accessing new markets, or savings achieved through recognition from insurers, regulators or purchasers.
- Marketing message: Using standards and accredited conformity assessment can offer a set of powerful marketing tools for organisations of all sizes and across all sectors. Standards and accredited services are a useful tool in the marketing of products and services. They are used to enable businesses to play on a level playing field with larger rivals and to leverage the competitive position of a product by reducing customer uncertainty.
Standards, certification, testing, calibration, inspection and accreditation (as central elements of the Quality Infrastructure) help businesses of all sizes and sectors to reduce costs, limit their environmental impact, improve quality, access new market opportunities, and differentiate themselves from competitors.
Besides the business case stories, the website also contains research publications, which describe the benefits of using accredited conformity assessment bodies. The strength of the website is that the abstract benefits of conformity assessment and accreditation are illustrated with hands-on examples. However, it should be kept in mind that a website is primarily a marketing tool. The reader will not find any information about problems and challenges in conformity assessment and accreditation here. INetQI believes the examples will provide ideas and new routes which can be followed by other economic actors in the market.
Nevertheless, the Business Benefits is an essential contribution to the dissemination of knowledge on quality infrastructure worldwide, and its particular advantage lies in the fact that case studies from all over the world can be found in one place.
Further information on the platform can be found on the Business Benefits website. Contact persons are Merih Malmquist Nilsson, Chair of INetQI and Etty Feller, Chair of ILAC, who have kindly edited this blog post.