To maintain quality and consistency over the industries globally, it is important to keep checks and balances in place. International standards help in doing so. From enabling the one to use his bank card overseas to ensuring that toys of kids don’t have sharp edges, International standards are utilized everywhere. In late human history, globalisation played an important role in promoting standardisation. It can also be said that globalisation is the result of standardisation. Followed by the companies worldwide, ISO standards lay down the specifications to ensure products and services work the way expected. In some industries, ISO certification may be required according to the law or contractually.
This article covers the Basics of ISO standards i.e. its meaning, important terms, who issues the certificate, documents required, popular standards, the process to get an ISO certificate, benefits, cost involved etc.
What is an ISO?
ISO stands for International organisation for standardisation. It is an independent non-governmental organisation that sets quality, efficiency and safety standards for products, systems and services in every business and sector. International standards indicate that the consumers can have confidence in the products being reliable, secure and of good quality. This organisation upgrades industrial, commercial and proprietary standards all over the world that assist to provide solutions to global challenges.
ISO was founded on 23rd February, in the year 1947. The headquarters of the organisation is situated in Geneva, Switzerland and works in many countries. These standards help businesses to increase their productivity and to minimize their errors and waste. These also safeguard the consumers and the end-users of services and products ensuring that the certified products conform to minimum standards which had been set up internationally.
“ISO certification is a seal of approval from a third party body that a company runs to one of the international standards developed and published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).”
The Certification of ISO certifies that the company has fulfilled all the requirements for assurance of quality and standardisation.
Popular standards developed by ISO
ISO certification subsists in many dimensions, from food safety and energy management to medical equipment and social responsibility. Each certification has separate criteria and standards. This certification manifests that the stakeholders have a well-established business that is stable and ready for growth.
The following are a few standards which are published by ISO:
- ISO 9001- These globally accepted standards are referred to as Quality Management Standards. ISO 9001 is known to be the best quality management system worldwide.90% of the firms avail this certification. This standard is basically for businesses or organisations that want to ensure consistency of products and services with their customers requirements. Merchant exporters or local manufacturing businesses, any organisation can claim its certification.
- It doesn’t matter which industry it is, whether manufacturing or service.
- Size of the industry doesn’t matter whether there is 1 person or a thousand people.
- It is a process based standard used to control processes and end products to meet the desired results.
- No person can get certified on his name to ISO 9001, instead a company or organisation converts to certified.
Documents required for ISO 9001 are as under:
- KYC Documents
- Business related proofs such as letterheads, visiting cards or purchase or sale invoice etc.
- Government certificates like GST etc.
- ISO 22000- These standards are referred to as the Food Safety Management System. These standards focus on the highest level of food safety throughout the entire life cycle of food i.e. to prevent the food from being contaminated. ISO 22000 works for the improvement of food and increasing its standards. Manufacturing unit of a food or local restaurant business can claim its certification. Basically, it allows the company to convey to the customers about effective food safety management in that company.
- ISO 14001- These standards are for an effective environmental management system and reduce the impacts on the environment. This provides confidence to management, stakeholders and employees that the environmental impact is being measured and upgraded. It also provides the requirements with guidance for use of systems and reduces waste.
- ISO 27001- These standards signify the finest practice of a company which is involved in the information security management system. Its main focus is on providing protection for any kind of Digital information and assists organisations to manage security of assets such as financial information and so on. It is a very significant approach to manage information which is considered sensitive and has a great value to a business. In simple language, ISO 27001 safeguards an organisation’s data, systems and reputation.
- ISO/TS 16949- It is an internationally accepted quality management system for the Automobiles Industry.
- ISO 50001- These are energy management standards which are used to assist in cutting energy consumption.
- ISO 37001- These standards are referred to as Anti- Bribery Management systems. An organization’s credibility is based on two building blocks i.e. Transparency and trust. Bribery weakens the effective institutions and equitable business, which arises the need of ISO 37001. It allows all the organisations to detect, prevent and address bribery.
Benefits conforming to ISO standards or registration for business
The ISO standards have their own advantages under their particular domain within every industry. However, the common benefits of ISO certification involve the following:
- Saving time and money by identifying and solving recurring problems.
- Improves system and process efficiency.
- Improving environmental health.
- Enhanced tapping of market potential.
- Enhancing quality efficiency.
- Boosting credibility in the eyes of customers.
- Getting more value out of all resources.
- Improving employee satisfaction and health.
- Recognized management standards help to attract customers as it shows that your business is keen to meet their expectations.
- Being more competitive when tendering for contracts.
- Improves operational efficiency within the organisation.
Important terms / who issues ISO certificates?
“Certified once – Accepted everywhere.”
IAF stands for International Accreditation Forum. It provides accreditation to organisations in various countries and ensures that the organisations are competent to do the work they undertake and are not subject to conflicts of interest. IAF established Multilateral Recognition Arrangements (MLA). MLA covers accreditation bodies in all the countries which eradicate the need for companies to be certified in each country where they work i.e. sell their products or services.
Accreditation bodies are recognized by IAF and signatory of MLA, they ensure that certified bodies are following the ISO standards and accredited certification body. Certification bodies are empowered to perform audits of a company and issue certificates of conformance to companies that are compliant with the standards. The Government and administrations approve projects only to IAF(global federation) approved ISO certified companies.
IAF ISO 9001 is used in government tenders and is claimed by the manufacturing industries that participate in the same. Companies normally charge 3000/- to 6000/- and some additional charges for audit. In India, the National standard body recognised by IAF is NABCB.
Non-IAF ISO certification is low cost and much feasible as it doesn’t require quality audits at regular intervals. It is for the purpose of Advertisement and branding only. It can be availed by small businesses and is issued for 3 years.
ISO certification process
The step-by-step process of ISO CERTIFICATION is mentioned here below:-
1. A firm resolution for implementing Quality Management System based On ISO 9001:2015 standards must be passed by the Top Management of the Company/Firm.
2. Proper resources must be allocated in order to implement the above Decision by the Top Management.
• Management Representative and Core Team for preparation, implementation, maintenance & improvement of the Quality System
• Time requirement of at least 5 hours per day (of the core team) for initial three months till the Company achieves ISO Certification and at least one to two hours per week thereafter.
• Financial Resources (Training charges/fees, documentation/consultancy and ISO Certification/audit charges).
3. Set up a core team consisting of at least two employees (one senior & one junior) from each Department and designate one member of the core team as a Management Representative (MR – ISO coordinator) to coordinate all ISO 9000 related Activities (Which is mandatory as per ISO Standard)
4. Institute a Training Plan. Awareness Training for all employees (as it involves teamwork and all Employees are part of the Quality Management System).
• Documentation training for core team &
• Internal Auditors training, to at least three to four members of the core team.
5. Execute training plan / Conduct in-house (within your company) training seminars
• Awareness Training for all employees &
• Documentation training for the core team.
6. Analyse the Existing Business Systems in your organization in comparison with ISO 9001 Requirements (Gap analysis exercise)
7. Devise Quality Policy [Guiding document] and Quality Objectives [functional / departmental Targets / goals]
8. Devise Six Mandatory Quality Procedures required by ISO 9001:2008 standard.
9. Devise other Quality Procedures (QP), process flow charts (QFC), departmental work Instructions (WI) & other documents required to conduct the company operations and Complete the “Quality Manual”.
10. Execute the Newly established “Quality Management System” from a planned/fixed date
11. Arrange for “Internal Quality Auditors Training” to at least three to four members of Core Team (Develop Self Assessment Capability)
12. Conduct the first Internal Quality Audit. (After a gap of at least 30 days from the date of Implementation of the system)
13. Make Application for certification to Certification Body (Submit Manuals for Approval (Documentation review/audit Pay Initial Certification charges to Certification Body At-least one month in advance)
14. Conduct first Management Review Meeting and then call Certification Body for Conducting On-site audit of your Quality System
15. Initial Audit / Assessment by Certification Body and receiving “Recommendation Letter” (like a Provisional certificate) at the time of the closing meeting (if CB feels that Your organization QMS Are conforming to ISO 9001 requirements)
16. Receive original Certificate from Certification Body. (Normal time frame – within 21 to 30 days from date of recommendation letter)
Note: After certification, the Certification Body carries out surveillance audits after every nine months and a re-certification audit (after three years).
To conclude, an ISO certificate is a Quality Standards Certificate that is given to the company, institution, business and industry. More than 155 countries are members of ISO. It is an independent organization that provides standards for the quality, safety and efficiency of a business’s products and services. With the increasing competition among businesses, it has also become necessary to provide good quality products and services to the customers. ISO certification helps you in improving the credibility and overall efficiency of your business.
Hence, ISO registration is necessary to maintain the quality and standard of the product. In this entire article, how to do ISO registration, its types, its usefulness has been explained in all the ways, which will prove to be helpful in maintaining the quality standard of your organization’s product.
Written By- Japneet Kaur