Certification / Standards

What is a standard?

A standard is a document that provides requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose. We publish over 19 500 International Standards that can be purchased from the ISO store or from our members.

What are the benefits of ISO International Standards?

ISO International Standards ensure that products and services are safe, reliable and of good quality. For business, they are strategic tools that reduce costs by minimizing waste and errors, and increasing productivity. They help companies to access new markets, level the playing field for developing countries and facilitate free and fair global trade.

Benefits For Business

International Standards are strategic tools and guidelines to help companies tackle some of the most demanding challenges of modern business. They ensure that business operations are as efficient as possible, increase productivity and help companies access new markets.

Benefits include:
Cost savings – International Standards help optimise operations and therefore improve the bottom line
Enhanced customer satisfaction – International Standards help improve quality, enhance customer satisfaction and increase sales
Access to new markets – International Standards help prevent trade barriers and open up global markets
Increased market share – International Standards help increase productivity and competitive advantage
Environmental benefits – International Standards help reduce negative impacts on the environment

Benefits For Society

ISO has over 19 500 standards touching almost all aspects of daily life.

When products and services conform to International Standards consumers can have confidence that they are safe, reliable and of good quality. For example, ISO’s standards on road safety, toy safety and secure medical packaging are just a selection of those that help make the world a safer place.

To make sure that the benefits of ISO International Standards are as broad as possible, ISO supports the involvement of consumers in standard development work with its Committee on consumer policy (COPOLCO).

International Standards on air, water and soil quality, on emissions of gases and radiation and environmental aspects of products contribute to efforts to preserve the environment and the health of citizens.

Benefits For Government

ISO standards draw on international expertise and experience and are therefore a vital resource for governments when developing regulations.

National governments can make ISO standards a regulatory requirement (remember ISO standards themselves are voluntary). This has a number of benefits:
Expert opinion – ISO standards are developed by experts. By integrating an ISO standard into national regulation, governments can benefit from the opinion of experts without having to call on their services directly.
Opening up world trade – ISO standards are international and adopted by many governments. By integrating ISO standards into national regulation, governments help to ensure that requirements for imports and exports are the same the world over, therefore facilitating the movement of goods, services and technologies from country to country.

Management System Standards

A management system describes the set of procedures an organization needs to follow in order to meet its objectives.

In a small organization there may not be an official system, just ‘our way of doing things’. Often ‘our way of doing things’ is not written down, instead it is in the head of the staff. However, the larger the organization the more likely it is that there are written instructions about how things are done. This makes sure that nothing is left out and that everyone is clear about who needs to do what, when and how. When an organization systemizes how it does things, this is known as a management system.

ISO has a number of management system standards, each focusing on different issues affecting global business. Some of the most well known can be found here.

ISO and Energy Management (ISO 50000 family)

ISO 50001 is based on the management system model of continual improvement also used for other well-known standards such as ISO 9001 or ISO 14001. This makes it easier for organizations to integrate energy management into their overall efforts to improve quality and environmental management.

ISO 50001:2011 provides a framework of requirements for organizations to:
* Develop a policy for more efficient use of energy
* Fix targets and objectives to meet the policy
* Use data to better understand and make decisions about energy use
* Measure the results
* Review how well the policy works, and
* Continually improve energy management.

ISO and the Environment (ISO 14000 family)

ISO 14001:2004 sets out the criteria for an environmental management system and can be certified to. It does not state requirements for environmental performance, but maps out a framework that a company or organization can follow to set up an effective environmental management system. It can be used by any organization regardless of its activity or sector. Using ISO 14001:2004 can provide assurance to company management and employees as well as external stakeholders that environmental impact is being measured and improved.

The benefits of using ISO 14001:2004 can include:
* Reduced cost of waste management
* Savings in consumption of energy and materials
* Lower distribution costs
* Improved corporate image among regulators, customers and the public

ISO and Quality management (ISO 9000 family)

The ISO 9000 family addresses various aspects of quality management and contains some of ISO’s best known standards. The standards provide guidance and tools for companies and organizations who want to ensure that their products and services consistently meet customer’s requirements, and that quality is consistently improved.

There are many standards in the ISO 9000 family, including:
* ISO 9001:2008 – sets out the requirements of a quality management system
* ISO 9000:2005 – covers the basic concepts and language
* ISO 9004:2009 – focuses on how to make a quality management system more efficient and effective
* ISO 19011:2011 – sets out guidance on internal and external audits of quality management systems.

ISO 9001:2008

ISO 9001:2008 sets out the criteria for a quality management system and is the only standard in the family that can be certified to (although this is not a requirement). It can be used by any organization, large or small, regardless of its field of activity. In fact ISO 9001:2008 is implemented by over one million companies and organizations in over 170 countries.

ISO and Food Safety Management (ISO 22000 family)

The ISO 22000 family of International Standards addresses food safety management.

The consequences of unsafe food can be serious and ISO’s food safety management standards help organizations identify and control food safety hazards. As many of today’s food products repeatedly cross national boundaries, International Standards are needed to ensure the safety of the global food supply chain.

The ISO 22000 family contains a number of standards each focusing on different aspects of food safety management.
* ISO 22000:2005 contains the overall guidelines for food safety management.
* ISO/TS 22004:2005 contains guidelines for applying ISO 22000
* ISO 22005:2007 focuses on traceability in the feed and food chain
* ISO/TS 22002-1:2009 contains specific prerequisites for food manufacturing
* ISO/TS 22002-3:2011 contains specific prerequisites for farming
* ISO/TS 22003:2007 provides guidelines for audit and certification bodies

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