ISO certification is an internationally recognized quality, reliability, and trust mark. It assures stakeholders, customers, and regulatory bodies that the certified organization adheres to a globally accepted set of standards for its processes, products, or services.
Obtaining ISO certification can offer a significant competitive advantage, build customer trust, and even open doors to new business opportunities.
ISO standards are developed and published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)—an independent, non-governmental body that upholds international standards on consistency and quality in businesses. To achieve this, certification bodies such as Orion Registrar audit and certify organizations implementing management systems to ISO standards.
ISO standards cover a wide range of commercial activities, from quality management to occupational health and safety. They are designed to provide a framework businesses can follow to monitor, assess and ensure the products, services, and systems are reliable, safe, and of good quality.
With ISO certification, a company can demonstrate a commitment to conforming to the best practices, improving product quality, and exercising effective management, ensuring a customer can have confidence in purchasing and using its products and services.
Read our guide to learn more about what ISO certification is and how your organization can benefit.
Different Types of ISO Certification
To ensure international standards are upheld, ISO provides certifications in various areas of industry and activities—from environmental management systems to ISO standards that manage data and information security policies and procedures.
There are over 22,000 ISO standards, though there are several more well-known and widely-recognized management system standards, such as:
- ISO 9001 (Quality Management System)— aimed at helping organizations ensure they meet the needs of customers and other stakeholders, as well as meeting statutory and regulatory requirements related to a product or service. It is based on several quality management principles, including a strong customer focus, top management involvement, a process approach, and continuous improvement.
- ISO 14001 (Environmental Management System)—designed to help organizations improve how their operations positively affect the environment, comply with applicable laws, regulations, and other environmentally oriented requirements, and monitor environmental impacts such as waste, pollution, and recycling.
- ISO 27001 (Information Security Management System)—provides a framework for information security management best practices that help organizations to protect customer data, manage risks to information security effectively, and achieve compliance with regulations such as California Privacy Rights Act and the Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act.
- ISO 50001 (Energy Management System)—aimed at helping organizations develop a systematic approach to continually improve their energy performance, including energy efficiency, use, and consumption.
- ISO 45001 (Occupational Health and Safety Management)—provides guidelines for organizations to create a safe and healthy work environment by preventing work-related injury and ill health, as well as by proactively improving their occupational health and safety performance.
- ISO 13485 (Medical Devices – Quality Management System)—specifies the requirements for a quality management system (QMS) where an organization needs to demonstrate its ability to provide medical devices and related services that consistently meet customer and applicable regulatory requirements.
What Are the Benefits of ISO Certification?
ISO certifications offer tangible benefits, and while benefits vary depending on the ISO standard achieved, there are a wide range of universal benefits for ISO-certified organizations, including:
- Enhanced credibility and recognition
- Improved customer satisfaction
- Operational efficiency
- Regulatory compliance
- Risk management
- Access to markets
- Employee engagement
- Continuous improvement
ISO standards are designed to help businesses serve their customers better by enabling them to deliver high-quality products and services. This can boost customer satisfaction and loyalty, increasing business and profitability.
Implementing ISO standards can contribute to operational efficiency within an organization. By streamlining processes, reducing errors, and enhancing overall effectiveness, your organization can save time and reduce costs, contributing to an improved bottom line.
ISO standards can also support compliance with relevant State and Federal regulations and laws, substantially reducing the risk of penalties for non-compliance. Some ISO standards—such as ISO 27001 (Information Security Management System)—strongly focus on risk management, assisting organizations in identifying, controlling, and managing risks effectively.
ISO certification may also be a requirement for doing business, with certification needed for access to tenders, contracts, and markets that would otherwise be inaccessible.
Employee engagement can increase, too. An ISO-certified management system typically requires employee participation, boosting morale and engagement.
ISO standards are founded on the principle of continuous improvement, encouraging businesses to regularly review and improve their systems, processes, and services, leading to continuous enhancements in performance.
What Is the ISO Certification Process?
The high standards required for ISO certification mean a lot of effort is needed to meet the chosen criteria.
However, the general process includes:
- Standard familiarization: The first step is thoroughly understanding the specific ISO standard’s requirements. This might involve reviewing the standard’s documentation, attending training courses, and conducting in-depth research. Orion Registrar provides access to free ISO training courses that you can take online to learn more about ISO certification.
- Gap analysis: The next stage involves comparing your organization’s current operations against the ISO standard’s requirements. The gap analysis helps identify areas of non-compliance and provides a basis for developing an action plan.
- Implement a management system: Your organization will need to develop a management system that meets the ISO standard’s requirements. This involves documenting your organization’s processes, procedures, and policies and developing a plan for managing, reviewing, and improving these elements. Implementing typically involves training staff, adjusting operations to comply with the new procedures, and integrating the system into operations and day-to-day business activities.
- Internal audits: It is necessary to conduct internal audits to ensure that the system works as expected and complies with the ISO standard. These audits also help identify areas for improvement. A management review will help ensure the system is correctly implemented and any nonconformities addressed.
- Certification audit: Following the internal audits and management review, you can apply for certification from an accredited certification body such as Orion Registrar. Our certification audit usually involves a Stage 1 (documentation review) audit and a Stage 2 (on-site) audit to assess your management system’s compliance with the ISO standard.
- Certification issuance: If our auditors are satisfied that your management system complies with the ISO standard, we will issue an ISO certification. This certification is typically valid for three years, subject to satisfactory surveillance audits.
Obtaining ISO certification is a significant commitment—but the potential benefits in terms of operational efficiency, customer satisfaction, and business credibility can make it a worthwhile investment for many organizations.
Explore ISO certification opportunities for your business through Orion Registrar today, and contact Orion for more information.