What does it mean to be ISO Certified?
Even if you’re relatively new to the quality business, you might have heard of “ISO” being frequently namedropped especially in the context of quality management. Far from a simple buzzword, it’s quite a big deal in the marketplace and as an aspiring new business, a business person looking to grow your business, or even an entrepreneur looking to set your business up for long-term success, you need to be informed about ISO Standards and standardization.
ISO is the International Organization for Standardization – It’s an independent, international organization that produces various standards spanning throughout the business sector that help improve and ensure quality, efficiency, consistency, and safety of operations and their consequent products and services.
Relevant business sectors include health and safety, information security, energy management, environmental management, aerospace and defense, medical devices, and many more. The standards are deliberately made to be both comprehensive yet generic enough to be incorporated into any business regardless of size, sector or context.
It is important to note here that ISO cannot certify you themselves. ISO develops the standards, but the certification process is performed by external certification bodies and ISO cannot certify a company or organization directly. Despite this, their committee on conformity assessment (CASCO) has produced a set of guidelines and standards that these external certification bodies are expected to use as a reference to help adequately measure conformance and quality during the certification process.
ISO 9001 is an internationally recognized and trusted quality management system that has been adopted by companies all over the world to help achieve standardization and quality assurance. The first step to ISO 9001 Certification is to understand the standard. You will want to download the standard document first to get familiar with the requirements of certification. The ISO 9001 standard is basically a rule book stating what you need to have or do. The standard is generic in nature, allowing any organization in any industry to benefit from it. ISO 9001:2015 is currently the most recent version of the standard and is the version you should be using to develop your quality management system.
By following these requirements you are “compliant with the ISO 9001 Standard and therefore can be recommended for certification by your Certification Body.
When choosing a Certification Body (CB) to provide certification and auditing services to your company, verify that they are accredited. This simply means the CB is compliant with their own set of standards for being a CB, specifically ISO 17021. Check out our video on “requirements for certification bodies” to learn more.
Complying to ISO 17021 means the demands of the standard are assessed by an external agency called an Accreditation Body that is a member of the IAF-MLA in the CB’s region. Consider this a license to issue certificates or a degree to do a certain job, without which you are not qualified. To issue a certification of compliance to ISO 9001:2015, your CB should be accredited to ISO 17021.
What does it mean to be ISO Certified?
Being ISO 9001 Certified means your organization has a quality management system in place that utilizes international best practices to standardize your processes and system using the ISO 9001:2015 standard to ensure you consistently produce products and services that meet and exceed your customer’s expectations.
Since the guidelines of ISO 9001 are quite comprehensive and the process of implementing a system, having multiple audits, and maintaining compliance is quite stringent, achieving certification is recognized as an impressive feat and speaks volumes about your company’s commitment to providing your customers with high-quality service.
If you are considering ISO 9001 certification, but do not have relevant experience, check out these resources to help you get started:
Tips for Implementing the Standard
- Developing an Implementation Plan for your New ISO 9001 QMS
- Thinking about ISO Certification, but don’t know where to start? 5 Steps to begin the process
- Consider getting the help of a professional – How to choose the right ISO Consultant
Choosing a Certification Body – Choosing the best Certification Body for your Business
Tips for Audits:
- How to Survive the Audit process
- 4 Steps to an Effective Internal Audit
- Outsourcing Internal Audits: What You Need To Know
To the novice quality manager, ISO jargon can be extremely overwhelming. What is an NCR? What do you mean by OFI? Are we certified or accredited? But before you go and pull out your hair, let’s take a moment to go over some of the most frequently used terms and their definitions with regards to ISO and Management System Certification.