International standards known as ISOs are internationally recognised standards. They are developed and published by the International Organisation for Standardisation. This organisation has members from 163 countries. Each country has one member who is responsible for coordinating national standards on behalf of their country. The system is coordinated by a Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland.
Why Do Firms Apply For ISO Certification?
Organisations apply for ISO certification as they hope that it will enhance their reputation and business. ISOs standards are adopted by companies and organisations as successful certification indicates that the company has been independently assessed by an external body and certified as meeting a minimum set of stipulated standards.
Do ISOs Have Legal Authority?
However ISO standards do not have any legal authority. The international standards organisation is not a government organisation. Instead the organisation states that it develops standards around market requirements.
Who Awards ISO Certification?
Certification is assessed by an external organisation that has been accredited by:
1. ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board in the USA,
2. The United Kingdom Accreditation Service in the UK, or
3. The National Accreditation Board in Ireland
ISO 9000 Family
A popular ISO standard is the ISO 9000 group. ISO 9000 is based around quality management systems. ISO 9001 is the only standard that organisations can apply to be certified against. This is because the other standards in the group focus on things like performance improvement, vocabulary and financial aspects. ISO 9001 details standards that an organisation’s quality management systems need to conform to. The standards are general enough to apply to a range of organisations regardless of size. The standard is based on the following eight principles:
- Customer Focus
- Factual approach to decision making
- Involvement of people
- Systems approach to management
- Mutually beneficial supplier relationships
- Process approach
- Continual improvement
The requirements include a stipulation for the organisation to implement a quality policy. The ISO 9001 certification assessment will also include an examination of whether the organisation’s management support the organisation’s quality management systems.
ISO 14000 Family
With the current focus on environmental issues organisations are keen to secure the ISO 14000 group of standards. This ISO 14000 group centres on environmental management matters. ISO 14001 and 14004 are about environmental management systems. The other ISO standards concentrate on particular environmental matters e.g. life cycle analysis, environmental auditing, life cycle assessment and packaging.