International Standards Organization (ISO) is an independent, non-government body that lays down standards to ensure the quality, efficiency, and safety of products and services. The ISO promotes common – proprietary, industrial, and commercial standards worldwide and also facilitates world trade.
When a business has obtained an ISO standard certification, the stakeholders can be assured that the business is well-run and is ready for growth and expansion. It also adds credibility and assures the customers that the product or service meets the required standards. For some industries, certification is a legal or contractual requirement.
Please Note: ISO doesn’t provide certification or conformity assessment. They draft the standards alone. An external certification body needs to be consulted for the certification process.
In this article, we will elaborate on the:
- ISO 9000 FAMILY – QUALITY MANAGEMENT
- ISO/IEC 27001 – INFORMATION SECURITY MANAGEMENT
- ISO 3166 – COUNTRY CODES
- ISO 6 – CAMERA FILM SPEED
- ISO 639 – LANGUAGE CODES
- ISO 4217 – CURRENCY CODES
- ISO 8601 – DATE AND TIME FORMAT
- ISO 9660 – ISO IMAGES FOR COMPUTER FILES
- ISO 13216 – ISOFIX CHILD SEATS FOR CARS
- ISO 13485 – MEDICAL DEVICES
- ISO 14000 FAMILY – ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT
- ISO/IEC 17025 – TESTING AND CALIBRATION LABORATORIES
- ISO 20121 – SUSTAINABLE EVENTS
- ISO 22000 – FOOD SAFETY MANAGEMENT
- ISO 26000 – SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
- SO 31000 – RISK MANAGEMENT
- ISO 37001 – ANTI-BRIBERY MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS
- ISO 45001 – OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
- ISO 50001 – ENERGY MANAGEMENT
ISO doesn’t issue certificates. However, the ISO’s Committee on Conformity Assessment (CASCO) has produced several standards relating to the certification process, which are used by the certification bodies.
While choosing the certification body, it is essential to:
- Evaluate several certification bodies
- Check if the certification body uses the relevant CASCO standard
- Verify if it is accredited. Though accreditation is not mandatory, the body must meet the set standards.
The typical steps involved in obtaining the certification are:
Step 1: The Initial Assessment – Generally, an ISO auditor evaluates the business processes, manuals, documents, etc. and suggests the areas that need improvement, to meet the requirements set by the applicable standard.
Step 2: Preparation for Actions to be taken – Once the ISO auditors communicate their observations, the applicant needs to prepare an action to bridge the gaps (if any). At some places, restructuring may be necessary.
Step 3: Initial Certification Audit (Stage 1 & Stage 2 Audit) – This stage has 2 parts. Under the Stage 1 audit, the ISO auditor will review the actions taken by the business after the initial review was done in step 1. Any non-conformities noticed here will have to be aligned before the certification begins.
Post this, in the Stage 2 audit; the ISO auditor executes the final scrutiny. If the auditors are satisfied that the non-conformities are eliminated, they will prepare the final ISO audit report and forward it to the certifying body.
Step 4: Certification – Once the certifying body is convinced about the audit report, it will issue the certification.
Note: Surveillance audits are a part of this process. From time to time, the authorities will visit the business to ensure that the ISO quality standards are well maintained.
The time taken for completing the whole process to be ISO standard certified varies from business to business. The ISO certification agency will assess the timeframe based on the size and features of the company.
Generally, the time required to complete the process ranges between 6 months to 12 months. :
The cost involved here is not fixed. The certifying agency evaluates various parameters like:
- Number of employees,
- Number of processes,
- Risk appetite of the business,
- Management efficiency etc. and then decides the pricing.
An ISO standard certified business:
- Gets an edge over other competitors while bidding for tenders
- Can generate more value to the resources
- Gains customers’ trust
- Increases the goodwill of the business in the market.
Q1. Does an ISO Certification work as a license or permit?
Ans. None. ISO Certification sets the standard for the business in terms of the quality and efficiency of the product or services.
Q2. Do I need to renew my ISO Certification yearly?
Ans. No, but the ISO auditors do visit to check if the products or services match the required standard. However, ISO 9001 needs to be renewed every year and for this purpose, the authorities perform surveillance audits.