Even if you’re relatively new to the quality business, you might have heard of “ISO” being frequently name dropped especially in the context of quality management. Far from a simple buzzword, it’s quite a big deal in the marketplace and as an aspiring new business, a business person looking to grow your business, or even an entrepreneur looking to set your business up for long-term success, you need to be informed about ISO Standards and standardization.
ISO is the International Organization for Standardization – It’s an independent, international organization that produces various standards spanning throughout the business sector that help improve and ensure quality, efficiency, consistency, and safety of operations and their consequent products and services.
Relevant business sectors include health and safety, information security, energy management, environmental management, aerospace and defense, medical devices, and many more. The standards are deliberately made to be both comprehensive yet generic enough to be incorporated into any business regardless of size, sector or context.
It is important to note here that ISO cannot certify you themselves. ISO develops the standards, but the certification process is performed by external certification bodies and ISO cannot certify a company or organization directly. Despite this, their committee on conformity assessment (CASCO) has produced a set of guidelines and standards that these external certification bodies are expected to use as a reference to help adequately measure conformance and quality during the certification process.
ISO 9001 is an internationally recognized and trusted quality management system that has been adopted by companies all over the world to help achieve standardization and quality assurance. The first step to ISO 9001 Certification is to understand the standard. You will want to download the standard document first to get familiar with the requirements of certification. The ISO 9001 standard is basically a rule book stating what you need to have or do. The standard is generic in nature, allowing any organization in any industry to benefit from it. ISO 9001:2015 is currently the most recent version of the standard and is the version you should be using to develop your quality management system.