Terminology...and costs....and Other ISO 9000 Registration Questions


Oriole Adams

Well, I'm back and I'm still confused. :confused:

First of all, to catch up a bit, I spoke with our consultant (Michelle) and she said the $2000 fee is for the Policy Manual only. She also said it would probably be best for us to write our own Policy and Procedure Manuals and have her review them (guess that costs less) ;)

In the meantime, my boss had been getting quotes from a few registrars, which brings me to my first terminology question: is the Registrar the person(s) who actually audit you? And hopefully approve you? Or are auditors a whole separate thing? Sometimes, in reading the literature, it seems like auditors come in and review all your manuals, procedures, etc, and present their findings to a registrar, who then either approves or disapproves you. I'm trying to figure out how many levels of humans are involved in this whole process.

Cost-wise, what a variety.....one registrar quoted a price of $9800.00, which includes an Executive Overview, Procedures flows, interviews, and outlines, Internal auditor training, Implementation assistance (forms, etc), and writing and delivering level two procedures and forms and quality manual.

This other place wants $625 for a document review, $2500 for a registration assessment, and $250 for adminstrative costs, whatever those might be. Am I interpreting this correctly - this second firm won't be writing any manuals for us?

I saw a site somewhere on the web where they were estimating costs for ISO certification, and mentioned that the cost of the actual certificate was $700. Is there such a cost? So far none of the registrars mentioned it.

Lastly (for now :) ), is there a directory somewhere online (or in this forum, perhaps) of registrars and their fees? I've seen a few snarky comments about some registrars, so I'm curious as to which firms would be considered "good" registrars to work with. (My boss's interpretation of a good registrar is one that knows our consultant, likes her, and will "rubber stamp" us a certificate.)

OK.....sorry to be long-winded, and thanks for reading this far!
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Jim Biz


Lets see if I can sort all of this out .....

1) 2000 for a "policy manual" written for you??? define Policy Manual.....

In general a Policy manual ends up being a - rewrite of the standard itself - with "(enter company name) shall" inserted everywhere the standard says "the Company Shall"

If you want to send me the standard you are registering to - I can send you a "Policy Manual" in --- Ohh say a couple of hours.

Remember "Procedure Manuals" ( a book on how we do things) and "Policy manuals" (a book listing what things we SHALL do)can be interpreted to be the same THING...

2) A REGISTRAR - is the company you hire to do site visits and Audit your documentation and internal practices..... they issue the certificate...

An auditor is a person that works for the Registrar and actually comes in contact with you. -- The auditor has the authority to recommend ( or not) your acceptance for certificate to the Registrar they work for.... THEN - (I believe) the decision needs to be approved of - or at least reported to the the RAB (registrar Accreditation Board)

Cost wise - Yes - do your homework - there are a variety of costs & charges that some will apply and some wont.... IMHO Stay away from any registrar that tells you "they can do it all for you at a price" -- Rubber stamping is not always the best practice for any company especially for continious improvement aspects.

We pay about 9500 - 9800 for each three year certificate period Plus about 2500 every 6 months for onsite "visits" Plus auditors personal expenses.

700 separate fee for a certificate seems a bit much - Ours was not listed as a separate payment item - but the RAB logo stamp was/is identified at 150.00 per year

Is there a "directory online" that includes cost per registrar ?? not that I have run acrossed --- the variables are many --- negotiation is the key... I did an excel spreadsheet comparison of all the costs that were listed by 4 registrars and compared them from that viewpoint -- BUT cost alone should never be the resaon you pick a particular company.... Breeze through the Registrars/Registration section here at the cove -- and check in on the Auditing section as well for more on the issues...

As for building a Policy or Procedure manual - the fee Marc charges for membership is weeeeellllllll worth the time you can save if/when you do your own writeup ( which you will eventualy do anyway - because no one else can fathom what actually happens in your company any better than you can.

Now having said all that ..... If others that view this have differing info -- feel free !!!
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Oriole Adams

Michele definitely distinguished between the Policy manual and Procedure manual....in her conversation, anyway. I had the same interpretation of Policy as your explanation....go through the Standard and say "we shall do this", etc, so I'm not sure what all her $2000 fee encompasses. Sometimes, though, her conversation gets bogged down in terminology and buzz words, and I probably lose something in the translation.

By the way, I'm curious....she works for PJ Registrars, but she's doing this consulting work free-lance. Is this common? If we use PJ as our registrar, is that a conflict of interest?

As a consultant, I must say….never let a consultant use words you do not understand. Also, never let them bill you for something you don’t understand! If a consultant cannot speak in simple language that you can understand, then find another consultant. It is the consultant’s job to communicate clearly. Years ago, a college professor defined noise as: “anything the receiver doesn’t understand”. Never let a consultant sell you “noise”.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. That is what you pay the consultant for. Also, don’t be afraid to keep asking for clarification until the consultant satisfies your need. I don’t know the situation, and based on your questions, I am assuming you are not an expert. My intent is not to cut Michelle down. I know I hate it when consultants do that to each other. She might just be talking the language thinking you understand.

Ask, if she cannot give you answers in a plain language, then you might want to find someone who can.

Dave B (the other Dave)


Quite Involved in Discussions
Go to www.rabnet.com they have a list of accredited registrars with a lot of contact info. This is where I started in my search for a registrar in January,00. I have no idea of your companies reason for registration of their QMS. Find out why they really want to be registered, how everyone feels about it, culture of the company, future plans of operation and current maturity of your QMS. Depending on your job function, this info will aid in choosing a registrar. In our instance, myself and the Quality Manager picked our registrar.

The registrar is the accredited body, the auditors in a few instances work for the registrar, but in most cases are subcontracted. The auditors will come in and audit for so many mandays and make a reccomendation for registration of your QMS as being consistant with the standard to which are applying.

Read the fine print and make sure you compare apples to apples. Most of the quotes vary from registrar to registrar and competition is very tough and some are willing to deal if cost is a big issue. As far as cost, do not forget about other cost involved. At my last job it cost our company over $125,000 to get registered and that figure is not for labor.


> I have no idea of your companies reason for registration
> of their QMS. Find out why they really want to be
> registered, how everyone feels about it, culture of the
> company, future plans of operation and current maturity of
> your QMS. Depending on your job function, this info will
> aid in choosing a registrar.

My boss wants to get certified for all the wrong reasons, actually. Our biggest customer is certified, and they're eventually going to make it a requirement that all their suppliers are certified as well.

He has made it clear that he doesn't want to spend a lot of time or money on the certification process, he wants to get it done as cheaply and quickly as possible. He is not going to change anything about the way he does business; he wants me to write some manuals that say we've got these policies and procedures in place, when we really don't and most likely never will. He's asked me more than once what registrar our consultant recommends, nudge-nudge, wink-wink, who is she "in" with that will pass us?

So that's what I'm up against, a disinterested, impatient and pinch-penny boss who wants everything for nothing.


Fully vaccinated are you?
Staff member
Originally posted by Unregistered
Sorry, don't know what I did to make that last post come out italicized.
No big deal - I fixed it. This board software parsed the post and the post started out with two characters which are the same as the start of the html italicize tag. It didn't see a close to the tag so it interpreted the whole post as italics.


$2000 for a policy manual seems kind of high. I normally write a policy manual that matches the ISO standard, but references the procedures. Usually ends up being around 10 to 15 pages. Easy to do if the procedures are in place. Others have different methods though that may take longer.

Consulting costs and billing structures can vary all over the map. I am part of a consulting group that is part of a larger accounting firm. We tend to follow a billable hours approach - every person in the company has a billable rate attached to them that the client pays. If an ISO client is also an accounting client, they usually go this route. Some clients want a fixed price, so we estimate the number of hours it will take and multiply by our bill rate. The advantage to the client is that they will pay exactly this amount, unless they don't live up to the contract (not being available when we show up, missing meetings, not completing their tasks, etc.) and we have to charge more. We normally split this into monthly payments, but I have one client that wanted to pay half up front and the other half after Jan 1, due to budget cycles. Sometimes this works to the clients advantage if it takes the consultant longer than planned (not good for us). If we finish under the expected cost, we may split the difference with the client, depending on the contract.

Consulting costs will greatly depend on the size and complexity of your company, in addition to how committed management is.

Registration cost will also depend on the size of your company. Lately our clients have been paying $1100 to $1200 per auditor day. There may also be administrative fees and certificate fees. We can usually get the registrars we work with to waive some of these since we refer business back and forth. We usually have three registrars quote each client to keep them all honest. There are also optional pre-assessments that can add additional charges. The route I usually go is:

1 day - document review (rarely will be 1/2 day)
1 day - On-site readiness review (counts towards audit days)
1+ days - Registration audit

The on-site readiness review is actually and audit day, if you do well. If not they turn it into a pre-assessment and it does not count. Audit days depends on company size. Off the top of my head, as a reference I believe a 50 person company would require 3 on site days, but would have to look it up to be sure. The registrars you have quote should all be the same on on-site days. I have seen the maintenance, certificate and admin fees result in $3000 difference per year between registrars.

Probably more important than the registrar is the auditor that works for them. I have had good and bad auditors from the same registrar. Some contract with more than one registrar. Make sure the auditor is someone your consultant has worked with before, or get a list of previous companies the audior has audited and call to get references. Since I see you are in Detroit, send me an e-mail I and can give you a list of registrars and auditors I have worked with around here (note you also have to watch for travel expenses if there is no local auditor - usually not a problem in Detroit with the amount of manufacturing around). Some I really liked, some I would never allow into my company or a client again.

Hope this helps,

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