By Kevin Smith, Sales and Marketing Manager, LRQA

What is ISO certification?

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) develops and publishes international standards that provide frameworks for products, services and best practice that help to make organisations more efficient and effective. They are designed to help break down barriers to international trade covering almost all aspects of technology and business that impact on our lives, whether at home, work or leisure.

ISO management system certification is an endorsement from an independent 3rd party body that an organisation operates to one of the internationally recognised ISO management system standards.

Written by experienced assessors at LRQA, a global certifier of management systems, this guide has been designed to help you decide whether certification of your management systems is the right route for your business.

Why would I want ISO Certification?

Certification can help you to tender for business by providing proof to potential clients that you have robust processes in place to meet their expectations. If you are a small to medium sized business looking to expand, then certification of your management systems to ISO standards can help you access new markets, improve internal processes and reduce costs.

There are thousands of management system standards, so finding the right ones for your business can sometimes seem confusing. Three of the more well recognised business standards include ISO 9001 - quality, ISO 14001 - environmental and OHSAS 18001 covering occupational health and safety.

ISO 9001 is the most well-known and widely implemented business standard suitable for any sized organisation in any sector. Today, the standard is the international reference for quality requirements and certification has become the preferred solution for more than one million organisations in around 175 countries. It is based around a core set of eight quality management principles providing a solid foundation for management.

ISO 14001 is the internationally recognised environmental management system (EMS) standard which requires an organisation to effectively manage its environmental impacts through commitments to pollution prevention, legal compliance and continual improvement.

An effective and robust occupational health and safety (OHS) management system certified to OHSAS 18001 helps business turn uncontrolled hazards into controlled risks so better safeguarding the health and wellbeing of the workforce. This standard is currently going through the transition to an ISO standard and will be published as ISO 45001 in late 2016.

Certification to standards such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 can help you improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your operations. It is demonstrable proof that you have robust processes, procedures and controls in place. Other reasons include:

• a contractual, regulatory or risk management programme requirement
• a necessity to meet customer preferences
• a desire to help motivate staff by setting a clear goal for the development of its management system
• opportunity to bid for contracts where ISO certification is used as a prerequisite in tenders

You may wish to manage your supply chain, or trade with companies that have robust health and safety controls. Whatever your reasons, ISO certification assures your internal and external stakeholders that you operate a system that meets internationally acknowledged levels of proficiency, for increased credibility and customer confidence in your product or service. But don’t just take our word for it….

“ISO 9001 is considered a gold standard, it gives us greater kudos and confidence, it helps us to be taken more seriously and it meets clients’ expectations and requirements.”
Dr Ann Brighty Managing Director, Vector Laboratories Ltd
To read the full case study including Dr Brighty’s tips on implementing a quality management system, please visit the website.

“We certainly don’t see our QMS as a short-term box-ticking exercise, but rather as a valuable business tool to gain maximum benefit for the business.”
John Judge, Managing Director, Judge 3D
Visit the LRQA website to read John Judge’s tips to others considering implementing a management system.