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WHAT IS ISO?


A Complete Guide for Beginners


WHAT EXACTLY IS ISO AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?

The International Organization for Standardization, better known as ISO, is an international standard-setting body formed by representatives from various national standards organizations who promotes worldwide proprietary, industrial and commercial standards. An ISO certification is a guarantee that a company’s products and services are safe, reliable, and of high quality.


The easiest way to think of an ISO-compliant management system is to consider the four basic ISO building blocks.


ISO Compliance companies must:

Say what they do.  Describe what you do in simple processes.

Do what they say.  They need to follow those written processes.

Prove it.  Have evidence of these processes been embedded into the organisation in the form of documented proof like forms and registers as evidence.

Improve it.  The company must take continual corrective or preventive actions to improve these processes; they must strive for “continual improvement.”


So now you may be thinking, “That’s wonderful, but how exactly does that help me?”

Well, the whole purpose of the ISO standards is to create a better business system aimed at improving products, services, health, safety and environmental conditions so that customers and interested parties will benefit.  So, you see, it really is all about you after all.


ISO certifications exist in many areas of industry, from energy management and social responsibility to medical devices and energy management. ISO standards are in place to ensure consistency of approach within the organisation.


So why do we need ISO certification?

1. Meet Customer Requirements

Many companies want ISO certification just to satisfy one customer requirement. The customer states that it will only do business with vendors that are certified as ISO compliant, so to get (or keep) the business they need that certification. The problem with these companies is that they’re looking for a short-term payoff.


They don’t embrace the concept of quality, health and safety through continual improvement. They don’t understand that continued customer satisfaction is the ultimate goal of a Management System. In other words, these companies haven’t “bought into the program”. Focusing only on that one benefit — your immediate gain — without putting the customer in front will end up costing you much more in the long run.


2. Get More Revenue and Business from New Customers

Once you earn your ISO certification, you can advertise your certification and respond to requests for quotes (RFQ) from companies that request ISO certification. ISO certification can open up new markets you were virtually unable to do business with before your certification.


3. Describe, Understand, and Communicate Your Company Processes

ISO standard requires that you identify and describe your processes, the purpose of which is to better manage and control your business processes. Objectives form the center of your management system. Metrics are used to understand and communicate your system’s performance relative to your company objectives. If you make an honest attempt to conform to the requirements of getting ISO certified, you’ll learn more about your business.


4. Develop a Professional Culture and Better Employee Morale

Implementing an ISO Management System can empower employees. Your Management System will provide them with clear expectations (objectives and job descriptions), the tools to do their job (procedures and work instructions), and prompt, actionable feedback on their performance (process metrics). The result? An improved company culture and a more professional staff!


5. Improve the Consistency of Your Operations

What is consistency? Well, one way to think of it is “decreased variation”. Reducing the variation in your processes is the definition of consistency. Is your customer better served by you supplying them with a consistent product — same dimensions, same weight, same tolerances, same output every time.


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