How do I become ISO certified?

The global market is a space where businesses can find opportunities and grow their business to new heights. However, with the vast array of organisations that access the global marketplace, it needs to maintain a certain level of quality and consistency, to ensure there is a level playing field amongst businesses.

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The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) is a well-known accreditation that holds businesses accountable, and to very high standards across a range of industries, such as manufacturing. Before a customer partners with you, they want to be able to trust you. An ISO certification will show that you operate under high-quality regulations set by the ISO.

You may also be interested in other articles in our series on ISO27001.

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions and answers to help you understand the ISO certification and whether your business needs it.

How long does it take to become ISO certified?

There is a range of different ISO qualifications that you can take, including ISO 9001, ISO 45001, ISO 14001, ISO 27001 and ISO 22301. The focus of each ISO is different and can benefit your business in a variety of ways. Here are some examples:

  • ISO 9001 focuses on quality assurance and meeting customer requirements
  • ISO 14001 focuses on environmental management systems and processes to reduce waste and work more efficiently
  • ISO 27001 focuses on information and cyber security and getting you closer to meeting GDPR compliance
  • ISO 22301 focuses on business continuity
  • ISO 45001 focuses on health and safety, including occupational health, and both the mental and physical health of your employees

Before obtaining an ISO certification, you will need to ensure you apply to the correct and current version. You will also need to learn about the different standards, so you can determine which ones are the best fit for your business and industry. You can pick more than one, but they will need to be relevant, and help your business meet its goals and objectives. Some businesses choose to complete more than one simultaneously so that processes can be streamlined, and can minimise disruption to the business.

On average, it can take between 3-6 months to achieve any one of the iso certifications. This timeframe assumes that the business is new to the qualification, is starting from the beginning, and has the resources to complete it in house. It takes this long because there are a variety of different elements involved, including completing the manual, writing quality management systems, making changes to internal processes, assessments at different stages and more.

The time to complete the certification can vary, depending on how many certifications your business is implementing, the size of the business, and the preparation and understanding of the certification.

Is it hard to get an ISO certification?

Many people believe that gaining an ISO certification is unnecessary, and challenging. While it is true that there is a lot involved in completing an ISO certification and it can take 3-6 months, it is extremely beneficial for your business. With the right resources and preparation, it is not too difficult to complete. It will entail hard work and commitment to the certification, as you have to ensure that you are setting high standards, and meeting them. You will need time and effort to improve different areas of business, which can be time-consuming but will ensure your business is efficient and meets high standards to participate in the global marketplace. If you take the time to understand the certification and what you need to do, it can make the process much easier.

Who needs to be ISO certified?

There is no legal requirement for the majority of businesses to have an ISO certification. However, there are many customers and businesses that may not partner with your organisation, if you do not hold an ISO certificate.

For some organisations, such as those in the automotive or medical industry, an ISO certificate is required.

The ISO certificate is a trustworthy source of accreditation, and many customers will rely on this certification to make important purchasing and business decisions. It can therefore benefit your business to obtain an ISO certificate, as although it is not mandatory for all industries, it is highly expected. An ISO certificate will ensure you are never behind your competitors in your industry and provide you with an advantage.

An ISO certification is not just handed out to businesses. Instead, you will need to follow strict requirements and pass assessments set out in the most recent version of the ISO. This will demonstrate to customers that your services and products meet regulatory requirements and high standards in the marketplace.

What is the purpose of ISO certification and is it worth it?

The purpose of an ISO certification is to ensure a high level of quality and management within an organisation is created and maintained. This level of standard is put in place and assessed to ensure that a business can guarantee to its customers the quality of products, services and processes that it delivers, reduce costs and increase efficiencies and productivity within an organisation.

An ISO certification is worth obtaining as it is a well-known set of regulations and industry standards within the global marketplace that is expected of a business. The certification shows potential customers and partners that you operate to a high standard, and can deliver on your promises. This certification will ensure you make the necessary and relevant changes within your business to operate at a high level and show customers that you are credible and trustworthy. With this certification, your business will build a good reputation and grow.

What is ISO compliance certification?

The ISO exists as an independent organisation that creates and monitors the standards of businesses in the global marketplace across a wide range of industries from manufacturing to medical devices and energy management. The certification means that the organisation has met a set of requirements, which include the management and manufacturing of a service or product that has been quality assured.

The certification is awarded to organisations that have improved their internal processes and passed the assessments. A business can only quote that they are “ISO Certified” if they have met all the requirements.

The certification is not something that is completed once. The ISO is regularly revised to stay up-to-date with the level of quality that is expected across global markets. A reasonable transition period is typically given to businesses to give them time to learn the new processes and adapt their businesses accordingly.
Businesses are tested annually by a third-party organisation to ensure the standards are consistently met.

The ISO certificate is not something an individual can complete, only an organisation as a whole can be ISO certified.

Tell me the relevance of ISO today?

While ISO has been around for several years, it is still relevant today. It is constantly being updated to meet the demands of the global marketplace, and is still required in industries such as automotive and medicine, and expected in many others. The ISO certification provides organisations with the opportunity to positively impact their business by:

  • improving the business processes and practices
  • ensuring that the level of quality provided to customers is the highest it can be
  • enhances the reputation of your business
  • makes your business stand out from your competitors
  • provides your staff with clear roles and responsibilities,
  • increases efficiency and productivity
  • improves your bottom line by reducing unnecessary costs.

An ISO certificate is still relevant in 2022, as customers are not easily able to visit the business in question to assess it themselves. An ISO accreditation is recognised globally and will instantly tell customers who they can trust.

Make the right choice of the certification body

When your business has decided it is going to dedicate itself to implementing a management system that meets the standards of a specific ISO regulation, the next step in the process would be to find a certification body that can certify your efforts. This is important as you will not gain the official certification or recognition without the assessment of a certified body.

A certified body is a non-governmental, independent third-party company that specialises in ISO certifications.

Choosing the right ISO body is important to ensure you are certified efficiently, and correctly. Make sure you conduct research before partnering with a certification body, and ensure that they are experienced, trustworthy, bring value to the relationship, and are reasonably priced. You should also consider their reputation, flexibility, specialisation, online reviews, maturity and accreditations. The cost of a third-party certification body is going to vary, and you should not jump to the cheapest. Make sure you check which services are included in their package when comparing costs, and ask for a meeting, so that you can address your questions and queries, and assess their potential. Although they will audit you, it is important that you audit them to ensure they are the right professional body for your business and industry.

Gaining an ISO certification can be a long and challenging process, but the advantages far outweigh the effort. Your business will need to decide which certifications are relevant, understand the certifications, implement the changes, and find a certified body to provide your business with the certifications.

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