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SQS experience in hosting IQNet HO for more than 10 years

Management system certification - a young business on its path for global recognition Assessing and certifying of management systems by independent and neutral conformity assessment bodies exists only for about 30 years. It is a relatively young service branch.
Already at the foundation of SQS in the year 1983 (together with BSI, SQS is the worldwide oldest organization in this field of conformity assessment), it was clear right from the beginning that for all of its certification customers an indispensable precondition would mean consistent and globally recognized practices for the purpose of high confidence in certificates and audits. This counts especially for those client segments who would be increasingly subject to the global competition.
Therefore, SQS together with the other 7 founding partner was right the beginning initiator to establish a future oriented international certification network in fulfilling its mission effectively.  This network has been founded in 1990 in Switzerland (Berne). At first, it was established as European EQNet and later in 1997, as the global IQNet.
The mission of the network throughout its start-up and growth phases was to enforce high quality standards and internationally recognized certifications. In order to implement this mission in a period of dynamic growth of certification and within an expanding network with new certification partners, the establishment of professional head office structures and the appropriate provision of resources within IQNet was an indispensable success factor. Thereby appropriate support should be provided to the each IQNet partner organizations and their commitment mobilized to generate respective value.
The previously mentioned mission has been efficiently and directly practiced by the managing directors of the 8 founder members. With the change from EQNet to IQNet, - so the actual globalization step – SQS was initiating a significant moment allowing better qualitative and quantitative growth of the network. To be mentioned are the following 3 measures:
1.     Application to establish an independent IQNet Association secretariat with full time general secretary including assistant.
2.     At the same time to provide by SQS to IQNet the first general secretary including assistant as well as premises and operating infrastructure.
3.     The entire financing for the first 3 years which has been completely taken over by SQS. The condition was that IQNet should succeed in establishing its organization as a financially self-supported global organization within this 3-year period and to be recognizes as such accordingly. So it was a job, for better or for worse. SQS was interested to either be committed to a strong network or otherwise to let it remain.
The president at the time, Prof. Dr. H.D. Seghezzi, was a crucial factor for this advance to future within IQNet and he also was a generous investor. The first secretary general, Mr. Armin Girschweiler, with his distinctive competence and his unforgettable winning ways was as well a guarantor of healthy climate and growth within IQNet.
During the first years, IQNet was located in the same building as SQS. This facilitated the support and the exchange and of course also the performance review. In the year 2004, that means shortly after the conversion into an association under Swiss law, SQS was again launching the separation of the office facilities. The time had come that IQNet could completely and also symbolically be detached from the proximity to SQS.
Henceforth, the address and location of IQNet was now amid the Swiss federal capital Berne, almost within sight of the government and parliament buildings of the Swiss Confederation.
Also today, transparency, competence, neutrality and independence are the indispensable values which are com-posing credibility and confidence for auditing and certification activities. The international network is providing many benefits for customers such as recognition of certificates, the specialized collaboration in audits or in general, the innovative product range. This caused that more and more partners joined IQNet and its stringent entry criteria and that they are cooperating for its customers very effectively, with high motivation and providing additional value on a worldwide level.
The SQS commitment to IQNet has ever been continued in a distinctive way and in this sense, it went noticeably beyond the establishment of the IQNet secretariat. Since the foundation of the association in the year 2000 and the appointment of the Board of Directors, SQS always delegated a board member, either as a member, as a director, as a vice president (SCPM 2002 – 2006) or as president (2006 – 2010).
SQS is proud of the successful development of IQNet and all achievements of the past 25 years and is ready to further support this path.

René Wasmer

Deputy CEO
SQS Delegate to IQNet
Director of the IQNet BoD

SQS - Swiss Association for Quality and Management Systems
Bernstrasse 103, P.O. Box
3052 Zollikofen