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Oct 8, 2010

ISO Certification

To gain a true competitive advantage in today's market, any business needs the ability to meet legislation, truly add value to their customers and stakeholders and reduce the risk of losses due to product or service failures, accidents and other incidents.

The management systems supported by ISO (International Standards Organisation) provide a frame work for you and your organisation to achieve these goals and confidence to all customer and stakeholders that you are maintaining standards.

What Are ISO Standards?

The ISO standards are an internationally recognised set of benchmarks for any organisation. They enable you to create and maintain a structured management system with a clearly defined set of processes and controls to ensure that the ability to meet all legislation, stakeholder requirements and reduce business risk is achieved, on an ever improving basis.

ISO standards cover many areas of a business and include:

ISO 9001 for quality management
ISO 14001 for environmental management
OHSAS 18001 for health and safety management

Each standard is based on a system of 'Plan-Do-Check-Act which means that these essential areas for any business can be managed individually or integrated to suit the needs of a business.

Why go for Certification

All these standards can be externally certified by a Certification Body which means that your stakeholders and customers have the confidence that the systems will be consistently maintained as long as you hold the certificate.

As a business, you can then use your certification not only to improve your business but also to:

Promote your organisation as best in class
Provide a simple way to demonstrate to your stakeholders your commitment to improvement
Give confidence to your supply chain by promoting your certification in your website, in tenders and quotations.

Quality Management

The most widely implemented system in the world is ISO 9001, which drives an organisation to ensure customer satisfaction and improving internal efficiency. The standard requires you to organise your business as a set of processes and support these processes with key principles of customer focus, leadership, involvement of people, analysis of data and developing beneficial supplier relationships.

Environmental Management

ISO 14001 is an environmental management system that allows you to identify the key impacts that you have on the environment, important legislation and then set about controlling and improving these impacts. By implementing the standard, you can lower the cost of waste management, save money in energy consumption, lower distribution costs, and improve their reputation and image across the business community and society.

Occupational Health & Safety Management

With a focus on your employees, OHSAS 18001 systematically assesses hazards and legislation in your business to make sure that you are legal and present the lowest practical risk to your work force. The standard helps you not only to avoid losses involved with accidents, and time off work but again improves your competitive advantage and sets you apart as a supplier and employer of choice.

Gaining an 'Accredited' Certificate

Independent certification is important to show that your system is credible and gives increased confidence to your supply chain and stakeholders. It also ensures that the standard is maintained internally and that business losses are reduced and performance is continuously improved. It is important however, that your certificate is awarded by an accredited certification body. Simply put, if a certification body is not recognised by UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service) then many stakeholders are now refusing to accept the certificate because there is no proof of independence and competence of the assessor.

So in Conclusion

Management systems are now well established, and in the case of ISO 9001, with over 1 million certifications in 170 countries, it is almost an expectation. Environmental and Health & Safety systems are rapidly becoming the way to stand out from your competition.