ForeFront Certification provides training and certification services to a wide range of sectors, including Construction, Manufacturing, Recycling, Waste Management, Transport, Education, Communications.
ForeFront was first accredited by UKAS in 2017 to ISO 17021, enabling them to certify to ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and, most recently, ISO 45001.
An unforeseen interruption
During the assessment process for ForeFront Certification in March 2020, the witnessed assessment was interrupted by the first national lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was a period of uncertainty for ForeFront, prompting concerns around when the timing of the assessment process would be resumed. However, UKAS rapidly implemented its remote assessment programme, ForeFront was happy to be one of the first Certification Bodies to test.
Rapid and robust remote assessment
John Duncan, Lead Auditor at ForeFront Certification explains that rather than slow things down, the remote approach highlighted several efficiencies. “I was impressed by the entire process; we tested the I.T. platform with UKAS Assessment Manager, Cary Randall, and it appeared to work well.
The onsite audit was witnessed remotely by Gerry Norman. ForeFront planned the audit, considering the necessary COVID-19 risk management and resource requirements. The Auditor arranged to attend the client’s premises with an additional team member present to support the I.T. requirements, while the UKAS Technical Assessor witnessed the entire process via Microsoft Teams. Within a month we received our grant of accreditation, which given the fact that the Assessment Manager was on holiday for two weeks of this, seems exceptional!”.
For many of ForeFront’s customers, for quality, environmental and health & safety purposes, it is necessary certain standards remain active in the market. John highlights the importance of achieving this: “Purchasing authorities simply won’t deal with you if you can’t demonstrate meeting the necessary standards, so the pandemic could have been an even greater cause of business interruption without the implementation of an effective remote assessment programme.”
Underpinning strategy for growth
When asked how accreditation supports ForeFront Certification’s strategy for growth, John was clear that it was a vital element for success. “Reaching new overseas markets is a key ambition for ForeFront. Achieving accreditation is a foundational step to breaking into these new markets and the UKAS name is an additional plus-point because in areas such as the USA, Asia and India, UKAS is viewed as a mark of quality and high standards. While the recent pandemic has added to the challenge of growth, UKAS accreditation will certainly help us get there faster.”
Having achieved their recent accreditation, John explains there are exciting plans on the horizon for ForeFront. “As well as attracting new clients we have plans to reinvest significantly to reach new industries and recruit new auditors. We are also deeply committed to maintaining the high standards in terms of service to existing customers, helping them in turn to continuously improve quality and grow their own businesses.”
Bal Gill, MD and Lead Auditor also added, “the UKAS response received over the period to achieve our accreditation was exemplary in all areas. As restrictions continue due to the Coronavirus pandemic, UKAS has ensured business continuity, allowing ForeFront to continue moving forward expanding our client base.”