In UKAS’ Annual Report for 2021, Strategic Director Jeff Ruddle outlines the updated strategy of the UK’s National Accreditation Body.
As experts in accreditation and assessment, UKAS is committed to providing information that evidences and illustrates it is fulfilling its role with diligence and ability. This ensures all stakeholders involved in supporting and working with UKAS as the sole National Accreditation Body are able to understand what it does, how it does it and the values involved in executing those activities. This information is mapped out on the UKAS website, via committees, through conferences and training sessions and within publications like this Annual Report.
Over the last year, UKAS not only focussed on what is necessary in terms of enhancing its position as a world leading provider of accreditation services, but also on the values that should underpin the implementation of all its activities. At UKAS we feel this is vital to fulfilling our purpose and this belief is the reason why, in early 2021 we re-launched our Purpose, Vision, Mission and Values and updated our strategic priorities to align. This created clear expectations of what working for and with UKAS is like and promises that UKAS is dedicated not only to delivering a world class accreditation service, but also in providing trust and confidence in the products and services we all rely on.
UKAS values are defined within the acronym ‘PRIDE’ which neatly encompasses characteristics we want everyone to associate with UKAS. The full details of our Purpose, Vision, Mission and Values are spelt out on the website, but to paraphrase here, it is to deliver the UK’s national accreditation service and to underpin quality infrastructure both at home and abroad. The manner in which our services will be delivered is with Professionalism, Respect, Integrity, Dedication and Excellence.
As the UK’s sole National Accreditation Body, UKAS has a unique responsibility to work independently of, but in collaboration with a wide number of stakeholders. This includes the UK government and our international peer organisations who scrutinise UKAS activity as part of the national and global quality infrastructure. It also includes those within the conformity assessment sector plus specific industry partners and specialists who all help set the standards that government, regulators or policy makers require. They all play a vital part in helping UKAS in fulfilling its purpose.
The measure of our success in fulfilling our purpose with the values we espouse can be seen through our response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. This has been especially apparent in the role UKAS played and continues to play a central role in supporting the nation’s COVID-19 laboratory testing activities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the government’s lead and working in conjunction with the relevant departments and organisations, UKAS created and carried out assessments as requested to reflect the new conditions. It had to adapt and innovate in order to meet an unprecedented change in the volume and speed at which laboratories needed to operate. Even as challenges arose with the testing to travel provision, all parties, from the providers to media; consumer representatives and government continued to agree on the importance of UKAS accreditation and what achieving accreditation should signify. Alongside this UKAS quickly adapted it assessment model to adopt remote assessment ensuring that confidence in products and services underpinned by accreditation was not diminished during the COVID-19 Pandemic even when UKAS and the organisations we accredit were operating in exceptionally challenging circumstances.
Throughout the challenges of the year and the delivery of these achievements, the ambition remained to make progress in a way that was recognisably ‘UKAS’. This involved ensuring our activities were delivered with transparency and consistency to demonstrate the integrity of our operations and that our communications, training and expertise continued to underpin our professionalism. At a time when change needed to be instigated quickly, often requiring more complex arrangements, it became more important than ever to ensure the value of respect was reflected across all our work. It has been very gratifying that so many of our customers and stakeholders have been open to the necessary changes and been flexible at the same time as sustaining quality outcomes. In terms of dedication, so many of our staff and their customers have been maintaining the highest levels of engagement despite having to work from home. The ultimate ambition of being excellent in all respects remains the standard we aspire to and we continue to welcome input and feedback from all parties, in respect of helping us to achieve excellence.