ISO Audit is Costly? 5 Ways to Cut Your ISO Audit Fees

An ISO audit is undoubtedly an additional cost to the organization that chooses to have an ISO recognition certificate. 

They are two types of ISO audit in an organization. 

  1. Internal audit, also knowns as internal quality audit (IQA) or internal QMS audit, and
  2. External audit, also knowns as ISO certification audit or surveillance audit.
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    Internal QMS Audit

    Any company certified in ISO 9001 must do an internal QMS audit at least once a year. It can be done by your staff or hire a qualified auditor (usually an ISO consultant) to do the audit for you.

    1. Train Your Staff to be Internal QMS Auditors

    Many companies in Malaysia hire ISO consultants to help them conduct an internal audit. And, it’s come with the price. It will be an additional cost for the company. 

    If looking for cost savings, you can train your employee to be Internal auditors. How to train? Send them for ISO 9001 Internal Audit Training. One-time training cost, instead of paying a consultant every year.

             Bonus tips:

    • Retrain your staff only when there is a new revision of the ISO 9001 standard.
    • Look for training with after training support provider. So the staff can refer if they facing any challenges when doing their internal audit in the office/ factory. 

    2. Change from "Maintenance Services" to "Review Services."

    ISO 9001 maintenance services by consultants usually include: 

    (i) help you update risk assessment,
    (ii) help you conduct an internal audit,
    (iii) help you prepare management review meeting minutes,
    (iv) help you update ISO procedures when necessary 

    There are many reasons why companies engage a consultant to support ISO maintenance activities. Factors include:

    (a) Worry can’t pass the audit
    (b) Newly certified to ISO
    (c) Staff don’t know how to do, not confident

    (d) Not enough employees, the team are busy

    If your company already got the ISO 9001 certificate, you do what you have written in the procedures. You wouldn’t have an issue with a, b and c.

    But, if you want to be sure, you can consider getting a consultant help you “review” what you have done. It will be your assurance before the external ISO audit. 

    For those company that hires consultant to do full ISO 9001 maintenance services, you can consider changing it to “review services” to reduce your cost. 

    If your company is in “d” conditions, sourcing for an alternate ISO consultant is an option. Please, don’t just compare prices; a consultant’s competency always is an important factor in providing you hassle-less ISO 9001 maintenance services.

    External ISO Audit

    When your organization apply for ISO 9001 certification thru the ISO certification body company, they will send an auditor to your office/factory to do an ISO audit.

    An external auditor will check whether your organization fulfils all the ISO 9001 Quality Management System Standard requirements. If yes, the ISO certification agency will issue the ISO 9001 certificate to your organization.

    There is a date of expiration in the ISO 9001 certificate. Usually, it is valid for 3 years from your certification date. However, the external auditors will still need to come to your office/ factory yearly for a surveillance audit. 

    So, what can you do to reduce external ISO audit fees?

    3. Review Your ISO 9001 Certificates

    First, take out all your valid ISO 9001 certificates, and check.

    —> CB, AB & IAF logos are printed on the certificate. 

    If you have more than one ISO 9001 certificate with a different AB logo, you can tell your CB you want to keep only ONE AB. By doing this, you can reduce your ISO accreditation fees.

    IAF promote “Certified One, Accepted Everywhere”. You don’t need to have many different AB certificates. 


    Your ISO 9001 certificate with the “UKAS” logo is recognized in Malaysia. You don’t need to have the “Standards Malaysia” logo to be recognized in Malaysia.
    Your ISO 9001certificate with the ‘Standards Malaysia’ logo is recognized in the UK. You don’t need to have the “UKAS” logo to be recognized in the UK.

    If you are going to get your first ISO 9001 certificate, don’t waste money applying for multiple AB certificates. 

    4. Combine audit

    This option only applies to the company that certifies more than one ISO management system standard. 

    Examples of a few common ISO management system certifications in Malaysia:

    • ISO 9001 QMS Quality Management System
    • ISO 14001 EMS Environmental Management System
    • ISO 45001 OHS Occupational Health and Safety

    Because there are few common clauses among the standards, you can request CB to combine your audit and ask to reduce the number of audit man-days

    Reducing external ISO audit man-days will save you some money in ISO audit. 

    5. Explore Others Certification Body (CB)

    ISO 9001 certificate issued by ANY accredited certification body is equal.

    The differences between CB are :

    (a) Well-known in the market
    You will only concern if your customer requests a preferable certification body.  

    (b) Services: response time, audit arrangement 
    Please pay attention to CB services. A late reply or tight auditors’ schedule will affect your ISO audit planning.  

    (c) Price: audit man-day, travelling charge
    When comparing the audit fees, don’t forget to include the travelling charge in your calculation. And sum the total certification fees for 3 years. Why 3 years? Because usually, the ISO 9001 certificate issued is 3 years validity period. 

    (d) Auditors: character, professionalism
    You only know after being audited. You may ask around friends who have used the CB service.

    You are allowed to change your certification body due to cost concerns. However, please take into consideration other factors mentioned above.

    In addition, if you want to change new CB, the best timing is during the next renewal certification audit.

    Final thoughts

    As you can see, there are many ways to costs saving in your internal ISO audit and external ISO audit. However, it depends on which situation you are in.

    Hopefully, I’ve given some ideas to consider if you plan to make cost reductions in the ISO audit.

    If you have reduced your ISO audit cost, don’t hesitate to share your experience with us in the comment section below. 

    Share this content with your friends and colleagues if you think it is useful. Sharing is Caring!

    About the Author
    SYChong is an ISO auditor and consultant here at She holds 20 years of experience in QAQC and implementing ISO 9001, ISO 14001, FSC CoC, and EICC/RBA in organizations.

    ISO 9001         ISO Audit

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