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Should customers influence a supplier's registrar selection?

Should customers influence a supplier's registrar selection?

  • Yes, customers should influence the supplier decision.

  • No, customers should allow the supplier to select whatever registrar they want.

Results are only viewable after voting.

Reg Morrison


It makes sense for suppliers to short-list registrars that are respected by current and prospective customers.

...other selection criteria may also be used of course.

I agree, John. But I am not sure what this comment has to do with my previous post, which was meant to indicate that we have an alleged case where an organization is telling their suppliers that they have to be certified by a specific (unnamed) registrar. In other words, supplier to that organization have no choice other than being certified by the registrar selected by their customer.

John Broomfield

Staff member
Super Moderator

It's a pity we cannot see the evidence of this.

Did they say what benefit the customer was seeking by specifying a certain register for all or some of their suppliers?

If a supplier isn't well informed on such things, how would they know NOT to use someone accredited by these folks?

I see no problem in a customer telling a supplier to use a specific CB. It's difficult enough to compare CBs - even if an ISO 9001 audit duration should be roughly similar. CBs use "hired guns" at the lowest day rate they can get and agreements are often riddled with hidden fees. What's the use of standing by, after telling a supplier they must be registered, and let them try to muddle through finding one. There are terrible sales people out there who tell lies, cut prices to win work, only to have the LA jack the days up - all kinds of things could go badly, and the customer ultimately runs the risk of passivity in the issue.

If a customer has (good) experience with a CB, I'd classify telling a supplier whom to use as "mutually beneficial supplier relationships". But then, those who have a Chicken Little viewpoint of the CB industry will never see anything good in it...:rolleyes:

Reg Morrison

Let me offer some counter points, if I may.

In principle, if done for the right reasons, I would agree with you that, if an organization has huge confidence on a specific registrar, there would be nothing wrong with them mandating that registrar onto their supplier base, HOWEVER, in the LinkedIn case, so far, names of the corporation and the registrar are being kept under secret. Why? If there was NOTHING shady about the deal, the registrar should boast about the feat and the customer should publicly disclose their choice. After all, they are doing it for the right reasons, right?

Your argument that suppliers don’t know how to select registrars does not appeal to me, because the customer could, IN ADDITION to telling the suppliers that they need to attain certification, they also need to choose a registrar accredited by an IAF recognized accreditation body and any other relevant criteria that the customer sees fit. If suppliers are too dumb to make the right choices when it comes to registrar selection, should we trust them to select their own hardware and service suppliers? Why should we limit the questioning of the supplier’s ability to make the right choices when it comes to their own sub suppliers to registrar only.

As I mentioned in one of my LinkedIn responses, the devil for this arrangement is in the details. If the customer in question likes this specific registrar so much, do they use them to certify their own QMS? Because, if they do, and the customer uses the suppliers certificates as part of their supplier monitoring process, it would constitute a violation against ISO 17021, as I explained in LinkedIn and supported by an ANAB Heads up document.

On the other hand, we could conjecture, what if, as part of this deal, the customer in question is now enforcing an arrangement whereby the registrar has to focus on that specific customer’s orders and contracts during the audit of the suppliers? While that might work well for that specific customer, once the suppliers find out that the registrar auditors will not look into other products, orders, projects, etc., they might not be as disciplined as they should, with the other customers orders. So, the concept of third party auditing is not really being applied in terms of sampling the system, because the auditors are, by design, focusing specifically on only one customer, which should put the validity of the certificate in question, UNLESS the registrar limits the scope of certification to products/orders of that specific customer.

While there is nothing wrong for an organization to like a specific registrar so much that it mandates them to their suppliers, what does that say about the state of the third party certification sector? With over 70 ANAB accredited registrars in the USA, could it be that ONLY ONE IS RELIABLE? And, if the answer is yes, why not hire that registrar to perform second party audits, without disguising it as third party? The answer is very simple: Mandating a registrar to your suppliers has the benefit that you (the customer) does not have to pay for it. The supplier pays the bills, while, if you contracted a registrar to perform second party QMS audits on your behalf, you pay for it.

So, all in all, the alleged arrangement leaves many unanswered questions, in my estimation.
In review of the Linkedin poster's comments, he didn't give us any information about anything, really, other than the question. Since some have forgotten the primary purpose of certification, which was to replace the (expensive) multiple supplier audits going on, then if a customer has good experience with a CB, why shouldn't they use that CB to manage their supply chain audits (in effect)?

Rather than have multiple CBs with different levels of service, it seem to me to be perfectly legitimate to use one CB. After all, there can't be a (reasonable) suspicion of anything because the customer isn't paying for the audits! There's a lot of large multiple site clients who use a number of CBs and it's very common to consolidate with one CB to leverage all manner of controls. Why is doing the same thing in the supply chain any different?

Of course, those who are cynical and have a negative attitude about 3rd party certification will never see anything but "guilty" CBs, of course. Who knows why?

Reg Morrison

then if a customer has good experience with a CB, why shouldn't they use that CB to manage their supply chain audits (in effect)?
As I said before, if an organization has a very good experience with a registrar and want to use them to perform second party audits of their suppliers, DO SO, but don't disguise second party audits as third party ones, because they are distinct and serve different purposes. Not mentioning the fact that depending on the role of the registrar with that customer organization, they could be violating ISO 17021, a standard that should be used to guide the work of accredited registrars.

Of course, those who are cynical and have a negative attitude about 3rd party certification will never see anything but "guilty" CBs, of course. Who knows why?
You might not realize, but you yourself constantly provide advice here at The Cove such as "fire the auditor", "fire the registrar", complain to the CB. If things were going well in the 3rd party certification world, we should not been hearing that advice so many times, isn't it?

John Martinez

ISO 9001 - supplier selection and re-evaluation is part of an organization's management system. Supplier audits are in fact either part of the selection or re-evaluation process.

An accredited third party CB who audits that organization's management system then performs some of the management system on behalf of that same organization in this case performing that organization's second party audit has established a conflict of interest.

That said, if the organization's supplier chooses the same CB on their own, then no conflict of interest.

Any organization may have a list of acceptable CB's that the supplier can choose from.

What if the person who established the policy of suppliers must choose a certain CB moves to another company and is replaced by another person who prefers another. It can be expensive to change CB's especially for TS and AS audits.


Involved In Discussions
Two things strike me in this discussion.

First, if a customer can dictate a registrar, it seems to me that it leaves the system open to some major abuse. In other words, the possibility that kickbacks may be involved. Sure, the vast majority of quality professionals I have met are honest people, but in every crowd there are a few bad apples.

Second, through forums and other quality contacts, I feel pretty certain I (and many, if not most of my fellow Covers) have a good idea of which registrars I would look at a little sideways. If one of our suppliers were to show me a certificate from one of those registrars, I would want to go and audit them myself, certificate or not.

Just my 2 centavos.

Sidney Vianna

Post Responsibly
Staff member
Just decided to edit the poll and give another 12 months for people to vote (binary choice). The IAF Certsearch database currently shows 855 Certification Bodies around the World. All of them under the IAF umbrella. Could it be that all 855 CB's are ethical, competent, trustworthy, etc? :naughty:
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