Certification is where an independent third party such as Alliance International visits an organization and conducts an audit of their management system through a process that involves comparing the organization's system against the requirements of the applicable standard. Once the audit is complete and the organization meets the requirements of the standard, Alliance International issues a certificate.
Once a company has been certified, Alliance International periodically visits the organization on a regular basis (Surveillance Audits) to assess whether they continue to meet the requirements of the standard. Approximately every three years, a re-assessment takes place to make sure that the management system is still in place.
The requirements of ISO 9001 are generic in nature, and intended to apply to all organizations. The changes to the new standard were made to: reduce the number of standards; create a more logical structure; provide ease of use by service-sector organizations and small businesses, and provide requirements for achieving customer satisfaction and continuous improvement. The new edition will attract new users from less traditional fields.
There is no exact answer for this question. How much your certification costs depends on a number of factors, i.e. the size of your organization and its complexity, and whether or not your specific organization has fairly up-to-date documents and procedures. On average, the entire implementation process could take anywhere from 6 to 18 months. Costs of implementation are recovered when the organization uses the standard as it was intended - a tool for continuous improvement and waste reduction.
ISO 9001 focuses on "quality management". This means what the organization does to enhance customer satisfaction by meeting customer and applicable regulatory requirements and continually to improve its performance.
ISO 14001 focuses on "environmental management". This means what the organization does to minimize harmful effects on the environment caused by its activities, and continually to improve its environmental performance.
Consultants can fill a number of needs. They can conduct a thorough, unbiased evaluation and assess the current state of affairs in your organization. They can provide specialized expertise in a new procedure, technique or way of thinking that is unknown to your organization without being affected by internal company politics.