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This article gives an insiders’ guide to the BCC’s global accreditation programme and shows the lengths that both UK and Overseas Chamber and Business Group go to in order to gain the valued BCC Accredited status. Currently BCC has 15 Accredited Overseas British Chambers and Business Groups and a further two with accreditation pending. The process is tough, but for a reason, as BCC has a hard won and established reputation to protect.

So how does the accreditation process start? 

  1. Contact the BCC Accreditation team

Well the first stage is a call to the BCC Accreditation team to discuss the process and order an Accreditation Welcome Pack (an online resource designed to de-mystify “all things accreditation”). Within this pack, a model chamber template can be accessed which demonstrates examples of best practice, processes, procedures, policies and ways of working gleaned from already accredited organisations around the world. Contact the BCC team here.

  1. Online Self-Assessment form

Organisations then fill  out a comprehensive  online self-assessment form that allows them to drive their own assessment, understanding where work and effort needs to be invested to come up to the required standard. Throughout the process, every organisation under the spotlight is in regular touch with the BCC Accreditation team in order to ensure that they are fully supported on each step of their accreditation journey.

The self assessment lays the foundation for both the preparation activity and formal assessment and is designed to capture all of the key information required for accreditation. It spans areas ranging from mission statements and business plans, through to business continuity plans, effective HR practices and sound financial management.  In addition, information is required on an organisation’s approach to letting contracts and engaging with suppliers, information management processes as well as a full and frank appraisal of their service offerings (i.e. export documentation, member events, participation in the promotion and support of international trade etc).  The requirements are split into three categories – Governance; Resources and Services.

Once the self assessment has been fully completed it is returned to BCC’s Accreditation Team with supporting evidence which is reviewed in detail by the appointed assessor.  As part of the self assessment process, each organisation reviews each standard and determines how well it meets each one – giving itself a Red, Amber or Green rating. This rating is reviewed by the assessor as part of their assessment preparation.

  1. Formal Assessment

The formal assessment is then scheduled and, dependent on the stage in the process, will either be virtual (conducted using modern conferencing tools) or on site. The assessor engages with all areas including Board members, senior management and team members. The areas of governance, resources and services are individually addressed with the assessor reviewing how well the organisation’s processes and procedures (which were submitted as part of the evidence) actually work in practice.  This is not a simple tick box exercise; it is designed to deliver business value to each organisation and to drive improvements. Where standards are not fully met, issues will be raised and discussed in detail, they are then tracked to ensure that the improvements are realised.  Following the formal assessments, assessors will produce a recommendation, which is shared with the organisation. The recommendation and supporting evidence is then submitted to a BCC Accreditation Board. This is the governance body that makes the accreditation decisions.

The Boards are comprised of very experienced senior Chamber or business people. They examine the Assessor’s recommendation and supporting evidence and decide if the valued BCC Accredited status should be awarded. 

  1. Then what…?

If it is, then the BCC Accredited logo can be used across all marketing material giving confidence to all members of the network, and UK Exporters, who wish to use their services.

This is not the end of the story as accreditation is an ongoing process and is only valid for a defined period of time, currently 2 years, after which the organisation would be re-assessed in the same manner to ensure that they have continued to meet the accreditation standard.  This is only to be expected from one of the world’s most trusted business networks that is dedicated to delivering what organisations need to succeed internationally.

Who is the driving force behind this important process? 

Joy Shewring is BCC’s Director of Accreditation and, as a skilled international assessor, has significant experience in team management; standards and process development as well as having conducted a body of global assessments. She is passionate and committed to the delivery of an assessment function that is renowned for being professional; objective; fair and one that delivers business value to all organisations.

Before coming to the BCC she had spent 7 years working in an international accreditation context with responsibility for  overseeing the management and delivery of an international assessment service via a team of 50 + assessors. The team was responsible for assessing an organisation’s ability to deliver training and consultancy services in approx 35+ products across 20+ languages.  Currently leading on the British Chambers of Commerce Accreditation Programme, she ensures that the Chambers and Overseas Business Groups who represent the BCC brand are up to scratch and capable of delivering a professional service.  Her skill set is backed up by an impressive range of qualifications too, that include being qualified in ISO9001; project and IT Service Management.

She states:

“If following an assessment an organisation cannot see any business benefit in going through the accreditation process then I would consider that a failure on my part. Accreditation should not be viewed as a “tick in the box exercise”, merely being undertaken because an organisation needs the accreditation stamp; but as a tool to support continuous improvement.  It is also a business improvement instrument that allows an organisation’s team to get off the ground, away from the operational duties of daily business and gain a helicopter view of the organisation’s performance allowing impactful future strategy and planning.  ”

With verified and trusted competences the Accredited Overseas British Chambers and Business Groups network is a great way to explore overseas opportunities, why not reach out to them today and get trading the world, increasing your chances of export success, and of course, profitability.  

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