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25 TH ANNIVERSARY

Why is IQNet an asset in fast developing conformity assessment markets

In the modern world confirmation of conformity and certification is the most important tool for ensuring the international trade, reduction of foreign trade and sector barriers. For businesses which represent developing economies and economies being only in the course of integration into the global trade, confirmation of product/service conformity, including certification, can be a rather serious challenge. This may have, for example, the following reasons:
  • Inconsistency between product requirements determined at a national level and products requirements determined at the international level
  • Obsolete equipment which prevents fulfilment of modern international requirements for products
  • Absence or insufficient amount of laboratories able to perform testing of products on a required level
  • Impossibility to undergo internationally recognized confirmation of conformity/certification in its own country (for example, due to lack of harmonization of certification requirements/procedures, rarity of this service on the market etc.)
  • Difficulty to understand foreign and sector requirements, language barriers (companies which are not yet active on the international market, do not have sufficient number of competent English-speaking personnel)
  • etc.
When facing such requirements and assessing possible risks and costs, companies often make a decision not to introduce their products into international markets and settle with traditional markets, volumes of which normally do not allow attracting sufficient resources, knowledge, investments and experience for further development and improvement within the framework of global trends. Ultimately if such attitude of business community to its ability to meet the necessary requirements in the scope of certification and conformity assessment prevails in economics, generally the economics itself loses its world compatibility and slows down progress. In the current situation when development of technologies, business processes, in particular on the level of global supply chains, happens very quickly, even the slightest underrun on the market can grow into a permanent underrun harmful for an entire national economy.
The most important role in provision of business with convenient, accessible and economically viable tools for confirmation of conformity must be performed by a government through integration of a national conformity confirmation system into the international one, conclusion of multilateral agreements on recognition of certification/conformity confirmation results, investing into programs on development of a transparent certification service market and other mechanisms.
At the same time the market of certification and conformity confirmation itself is able to significantly facilitate business in overcoming the above mentioned barriers. First of all, it is related to certification bodies. Their success directly depends on the extent to which companies with which CBs work are involved into international processes of conformity confirmation. In addition, big certification bodies, whose business are significantly integrated and dependent on national economies, cannot but feel their social responsibility in respect of providing their clients with such certification services which will facilitate extension of their market outlets, enlargement of a market share, increase of plough-back etc. It should be noted that, according to the author’s experience, sometimes “international” certification bodies actively operating on various markets and in various countries far not always recognize this “social” factor, without feeling, if you like, the “roots” and running their business worldwide with the only regard to financial objectives and goals.
In such conditions establishment of IQNet – the international association uniting the certification bodies leading markets of their countries and regions – provides companies at these markets with various opportunities in the scope of internationally recognized confirmation of conformity, yet preserving the possibility to cooperate on the national level. Considering the reasons stated above, for markets with developing systems of conformity confirmation this approach may be found optimal. A national certification body well informed about a system of conformity confirmation operated on its market, this system’s capabilities and problems, and at the same time, through IQNet membership, having access to the almost unlimited resource in the scope of conformity confirmation, can always offer companies the most suitable variant to confirm conformity. This allows the following:
  • Promptly receive competent credible information about conformity confirmation requirements on a certain level
  • Cooperate on the issues of certification through your own certification body
  • Undergo certification in your certification body and obtain Certificates of conformity from all IQNet member certification bodies without additional audits
  • Undergo the conformity confirmation procedure and pay an adequate price (thus reducing risks to receive overpriced quotations caused by the desire to take advantage of “inexperience” of a company from a developing market, concerns of a foreign certification body to operate on such market etc.)
  • Where necessary, be audited by a foreign certification body with participation of auditors, technical experts, translators representing “their” certification body
  • etc.
  •  
It is safe to say that there is no other organization on the international certification market which would offer such amount of services and opportunities in the scope of certification. In addition to the above described advantages, IQNet membership of a certification body provides companies operating on the market with access to the services which currently could not be offered by separate certification bodies due to expenses on their development and insufficient market capacity. For example, we can take the set of IQNet services in the scope of social responsibility certification, which includes such services as certification against SA 8000 and IQNet SR 10, confirmation of conformity to BSCI, SMETA SEDEX codes, and a number of other services. For Russian Register being IQNet partner and the biggest certification body in Russia and former USSR countries development of such services would be economically inadvisable (e.g. in CIS countries there are no valid certificates of conformity to SA 8000, and certification in the scope of social responsibility, in general, is in very little demand). At the same time businesses advancement towards realizing the need to manage social responsibility aspects can be traced even in spite of economic crisis circumstances. In absence of IQNet and governmental support in such issues, the only practicable option for the companies would be to invite auditors from abroad, what would imply relevant costs and a number of challenges due to the need to understand mentality and specific character of social aspects in a certain region. As a result, cost and risk assessment leads to the decision not to go through such conformity assessment. And this means that another opportunity to demonstrate their sustainability to partners and customers is lost. Thank to existence of IQNet Russian Register can offer this service on the market still maintaining its financial stability, and companies interested in this kind of conformity confirmation can have this service in the most convenient and accessible way. This, I could hope, can give an adequate impulse to development of this field. This is just one example of a variety to demonstrate that the cooperation model provided for in the International certification body network IQNet which has reached a quarter-century age, is attractive for the management system certification market, in particular, in the countries where integration into the international certification and conformity assessment system is not yet completed. It should be noted here that despite a great number of challenges and contradictions interest for certification is growing. The latest ISO Survey on management system certification market in 2014 shows that the amount of certified organizations keeps increasing worldwide – both “traditional” management standards and relatively new ones – ISO 50001, ISO 22301 etc. are gaining their ground. This shows that the role of certification and confirmation of conformity as an international tool for improvement of sustainable development and compatibility is still high, and work of IQNet will bring benefit to the business society in all countries in which it is presented.

Dr. Pavel Nikanorov

Ph.D. Head of Marketing and International Activity
Division of Certification Association “Russian Register"

RR Russian Register
101, office 1, Rimskogo-Korsakova prospect
190121 Saint Petersburg
Russia
www.rusregister.ru/en