ISO is the universally adapted short name for the International Organisation for Standardisation and is derived from the Greek word isos ( meaning equal). It is the world’s largest developer of voluntary International Standards. International Standards provide specific specifications for products, services, and good practice to ensure that products and services are safe, reliable and of good quality. This helps to make the industry more efficient and effective as a whole. These specifications and standards have been developed through global consensus and ultimately they help to break down barriers to international trade. Although ISO certification is not a legal requirement for organisations and companies today, being ISO certified does have its major advantages.
Benefits of ISO Certification
- ISO Certification ensures that business operations run as efficient as possible. In turn, this will improve the quality and standard of products and services.
- Provides a positive image of the company for both customers and shareholders.
- Enhance customer satisfaction.
- Helps companies to gain access to new markets by preventing trade barriers.
- Increases credibility of a business or organisation.
Different types of ISO standards:
A large number of ISO standards apply only to a specific category of industrial activity. These industry-specific standards are generally quite detailed with a significant amount of guidance for corporate management. In contrast, generic standards are applicable across a wide range of industrial activities and commercial enterprises. The ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 standards are the best-known generic standards produced by the organisation.
The ISO 9001 standard provides a framework of globally recognised principles of quality management. This framework of principles are based on the eight key principles of quality management which are: customer focus, leadership, involvement of people, process approach to management, continual improvement, factual approach to decision making and mutually beneficial supplier relationships. The overall objective of the standard is to help companies meet statutory and regulatory requirements relating to the product while achieving excellence within their customer service and delivery.
ISO 14001 is an international standard for environmental management systems (EMS) which was first published in 1996. It is a systematic framework that is designed to manage the immediate and long term environmental impacts of an organisation’s products, services and processes.
As stated above, ISO is the developer of international standards. It is not involved in the certification to any of the standards that it develops. Certification is provided by external certification bodies which are largely private organisations, one of which is Certification Europe. When a company or organisation is certified to an ISO standard they will receive a certificate from the issuing certification body. Even though the name of the ISO standard appears on this certificate, it is not ISO that has issued it. There are specific guidelines a company should consider when making the decision regarding who to use for acquiring an ISO certification. It is important to remember that the cheapest option isn’t always the best as it could be more costly in the long run if its auditing is below standard.
About the Author
David Dungan is a freelance writer and blogger from Ireland who writes on a variety of subjects including business, marketing and technology.