Administrative burden of certification

Posted on 16 June 2012 ยท Posted in Geen categorie @en

Many companies are interested to increase the certificates they possess. Having additional certificates may appeal to clients. Critical clients may appreciate a company having certificates for quality, environment, carbon sequestration, safety, health, product markings, technical systems, social responsibility, stakeholder management, and so forth. Highly qualified staff may be attracked to such companies since all these certificates indicate a level of professionalism.

The main benefit of certification systems is that they provide for independent assurance. Companies and organisations claiming that they are working in e.g. an environmental responsible manner are inspected by independent auditors and this process gives external stakeholders a level of assurance. Certification systems also provide a sense of urgency to improvement processes within organisations. Without such external drivers, good-intended measures may quickly run dry. Having said this though, the drawback of certification is an increase in paperwork. Together with internal procedures and paperwork, and abiding to all kinds of government regulations this may lead to an overload of administration.


Certification remains an important tool, also for sustainability, but not when the administrative burden expands heavily. There is considerable duplication in different certification schemes. Increased coherence between such systems and making more use of integrated audits will help to avoid duplication and reduce the burden and costs of certification. Many smaller companies are unable to meet heavy certification requirements eventhough they may have sound management systems. The current certification processes are therefore biased towards bigger companies.

Integrated audits may not lead to a reduction of external certification costs, but will mean a reduction of internal costs since the staff within an organisation does not have to participate in different audits on similar issues. Furthermore, managing quality systems from a more systemic and integrated manner will avoid adding more an more paperwork and procedures, but assist organisations to add on already existing procedures and systems instead of coming up with too many new, not needed, procedures, processes and systems.

Thanks to Tom Janssen for allowing me to use his cartoons. Please visit: