ISO Group and Multi-site certification: smarter with Comm'ant

The cost of an ISO certification such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 45001, and ISO 27001 can be substantial.

To illustrate, companies spend an average of € 40,000 on an initial ISO 27001 certification, after which another €10,000 will need to be set aside annually for recertification. 

And if your organization fails to achieve certification immediately, the costs will be even higher. Especially larger companies with multiple sites (whether in different countries or not) are at risk of audit failure. 

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The soaring costs and unnecessary complexity for multi-site companies has created the need to look for viable solutions for ISO certifications. Therefore, "Multi-site certification" allows you to certify multiple sites of a company with one certificate. 

In this blog, we explain all about Multi-site certification and how you can use Comm'ant's management software to successfully get started with this. 

What is Multi-site certification for ISO? 

With an ISO certification, your organization demonstrates its compliance with the relevant standard. This applies to the entire organization or the defined scope of activities for which the certificate has been issued. If your company has multiple branches (sites), perhaps in multiple countries, each branch must achieve ISO certification separately each year. This is quite a redundant process and the costs can be substantial. Then the choice of Multi-site certification quickly becomes interesting.  

Multi-site certification requires you to have a centrally coordinated management system used by all your sites and headquarters. In addition, you map the deviating business processes of each site. 

Because your management system with the standard processes and records is organized centrally, the auditor does not have to visit each site. A random audit takes place. The size of this sample is fixed in a formula that is laid down globally in the MD1 document (see section 6.1.2). 

How to qualify for Multi-site certification: the requirements 

It is important to note that several criteria have been established to qualify for Multi-site certification, among others (see the MD1 document for the official list):

  • All participating sites must have the same owner
  • The company has a team of people who plan and control the processes at the sites top-down ("Central Function")
  • The management system must be used by all sites
  • Documentation within the management system is managed centrally
  • There is a central mechanism for continuous improvement of all sites 

Benefits of ISO group certification

We discussed the requirements for choosing certification at multiple sites. These are not always easy to implement. But the many benefits these provide make this method of certification very interesting. 

Benefit 1: Cost savings 

The most obvious benefit, of course, is the economic one. Multi-site certification helps reduce unnecessary and redundant duplication of effort. Audit costs are reduced because only a limited number of sites need be audited each year. Especially if your company is located in multiple countries, the price tag as a result of Multi-site certification will become significantly more favorable. 

Benefit 2: Harmonized operations 

Harmonized operations is a by-product of Multi-site certification that should certainly not be overlooked. 

What do we mean by that? For Multi-site certification, you create a central system where you draw out the standard business operations, called the Central Function. As a result, all sites basically work according to the same processes and procedures. 

By using such a central system, you improve the communication and working agreements within the entire company. After all, you all now speak the same language! Communication lines are shortened because all employees can fall back on the central system in case of doubt. This creates space to learn and improve together. 

Benefit 3: Better management 

When you deploy a central management system, you map out the complete business operations of all sites in one system, and centrally arrange the necessary registrations and reports, especially for internal audits, continuous improvement and management review. As a result, you will quickly discover in which sites and processes improvements are needed and can implement them immediately. With Comm'ant's management software for efficient process description, document control and registrations, you identify deficiencies and opportunities in real time.  Experience the possibilities of Comm'ant »

Benefit 4: Improved customer satisfaction.  

A central management system leads to better communication and shorter decision-making lines. As a result, you can respond much faster to customer requests and complaints. In addition, customers experience more consistency in the quality of your products or services because all branches work according to the same processes and procedures. 

Benefit 5: Increased employee satisfaction 

The central management system required for Multi-site certification also has many advantages for your colleagues. Because all procedures are clearly mapped out, they know exactly what is expected of them. Moreover, thanks to the continuous improvement system, you can implement their change proposals quickly. This not only ensures increased quality, but also one for improved morale on the shop floor. 

Multi-site certification is thus not only interesting from an economic point of view, but also provides your company with many other (qualitative) benefits. Nevertheless, it also comes with a number of challenges that you need to be aware of. 

Challenges in Multi-site certification 

Multi-site certification requires you to have a central management system. Currently, if each site organizes operations in its own way, you will have to create a system in which you direct this centrally. This involves challenges that you have to pay attention to. 

Challenge 1: Capacity and efficiency

Many companies struggle to establish and sustain multi-site certification. They lack the capacity and proper tools to create and manage:

  • Process descriptions and any translations
  • Content and documents, and monitoring
  • Data collection (bottom-up)
  • Data analysis and reporting

The business case for multi-site certification is definitely profitable when you oversee the process and work with a smart "centrally driven - decentrally applied" management system like Comm'ant. This makes the work effective and efficient.

Challenge 2: Long trajectory 

Multi-site certification requires a well thought out and step-by-step program. You will need to establish a company-wide standard. This means engaging with the management of each site. 

Together with them - and the relevant process owners - you will map out the business processes and lay the foundation for acceptance and successful implementation. Comm'ant's management software comes in handy here. It helps you keep an overview and take control. With a common language and local refinement. 

To help you prepare properly, Comm'ant has a practical roadmap that will get you off to a flying start when implementing multi-site certification. 

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Challenge 3: (Business) cultural differences 

When you start working with multi-site certification, you will undoubtedly be confronted with cultural differences. Each company has its own DNA. 

Implementation in all sites is crucial to meet Multi-site certification. If the corporate culture at a site differs from the "standard," acceptance can become difficult. This is especially challenging when international sites are also involved. 

Reserve enough time and attention for the differences and, above all, look for the connection in the similarities. Keep an eye for your own identity, involve all stakeholders and thus create support and acceptance for the (new) developments. After all, the degree of acceptance determines to a disproportionate extent the effectiveness of the system. 

Want to read more? We previously wrote a blog about creating support for quality management within your organization. 

Successful certification? Smarter and easier with Comm'ant! 

Now that you know what Multi-site certification is and its benefits and challenges, you can get started for your organization. Following are some tips that can help you successfully achieve certification. 

Utilize specialized software tools for your management system

Setting up a management system is often very complex and has many requirements. 

Some organizations try to do this with separate Word, Excel documents and Visio drawings. This often leads to unnecessary chaos - it takes time to get it out every time, and managing and maintaining these documents is labor-intensive. 

When you apply smart management software, you can capture, access and maintain the information at a central point. The information is always up-to-date and instantly available to all branches, in their own language if desired, in one online platform.  

With Comm'ant's software, you set up an effective and accessible central management system.

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Choose the right certification agency

If you plan to apply for Multi-site certification, it is important to choose the right certification body.  

If your company is located in multiple countries, the price tag can be significant to send an auditor to the different sites. Certification fees vary considerably from country to country. It is important to do good research to find a certification body that can provide a good quote on an international level.  

By using management software from Comm'ant in the cloud, you give the auditor the ability to do part of the audit remotely. The auditor can remotely look into the system and thus efficiently perform much of his work. 

There are quite a few options you will have to weigh. Comm'ant is not a certification body, but our multi-site specialists are happy to share their experiences with you in this area. 

In conclusion 

Comm'ant has a solution to put Multi-site certification on the agenda and make it feasible. This is going to save you a lot of costs annually. Moreover, using our management software helps improve productivity and engagement across all sites. So you can't start early enough! 

Getting started with Multi-site certification? Comm'ant is happy to help you set up a management system that makes it easier to achieve certification. 

When it comes to Multi-site certification, we work a lot with our consulting partner

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