Why Every Business Needs to Make ISO Certification a Priority in 2015/2016

ISO certification may be challenging 
to attain but offers many benefits.
There are many benefits for organisations gaining certification and for those organisations that are currently certified, ensuring those benefits continue to be realised is very important. Below I look at the benefits of certification and also what are the benefits of keeping abreast of upcoming changes in standards.

Benefits of Certification

Certification will increase your market potential
Many organisations require you to be ISO certified before you can work with them. Having ISO certification opens the door to many customers you would not have had access to before, giving you the potential to increase your sales and financial return for your organisation.

Increased robustness of your management system
Through the process of certification, you will have an independent party assess the robustness of your management system. This process adds value to your organisation as your management system is critiqued through a different lens.

Focus on organisational objectives and customer requirements
An important step in the design of your management system is to understand the requirements of your customers and the objectives of the organisation. Put more simply, what does your customer require and what are the key things you must deliver (your objectives) to meet these? By understanding these requirements right from the outset you can ensure that your processes are designed to deliver these objectives and increase the satisfaction of your customers.

Alignment to your organisational strategy
A critical requirement of an effective management system is to have senior management commitment. Without this, critical actions will not be prioritised including the allocation of resources to ensure your management systems are able to deliver their expected benefits.

This article is related to the Whitepaper:
Understanding ISO 13485 - A Brief, Yet Comprehensive, Overview
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Improved reputation for your organisation
Reputation is critical to the success of your business. Through an effective management system you are increasing the reliability of your product or service or organisational processes. Along with making sure you meet your customer objectives you will increase your reputation as a quality provider.

Focus on measuring, monitoring and controlling
It is essential to have the right information available to be able to make informed decisions. This is increasingly important in an age where you can be surrounded by data. Ensuring you can meet certification requirements will mean setting up our systems to capture the right data and establishing the processes so that it can be turned into information that is important for your organisation.

Improved accountability and ownership for your business processes
Through the documentation of your processes you can ensure that responsibilities and accountabilities are clearly identified. This has the positive effect of everyone knowing what their responsibilities are and where they interact with others. Through this process, gaps and training needs can be identified, enabling you to ensure that employees within your organisation have the sufficient skills to carry out their duties.

Benefits to be gained by embracing upcoming changes

The International Organisation for Standardisation recognises that it needs to revise it’s standards to continue to be relevant and add value to organisations. As such there are a few key standards that will be updated in 2015 and 2016. Ensuring you can implement these changes as soon as possible means you can capture the benefits for your organisation.

ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management Systems
The focus on risk management is more explicit in the 2015 revision. This includes an increased focus on the context of the organisation. Examining the context of the organisation refers to the factors in the internal or external environment that can have an effect on the organisation achieving its objectives. It is important the organisation continually scans its environment to understand if anything has changed that may affect it achieving its objectives. This process allows an organisation to proactively manage risk and opportunities resulting from a change in the organisations context.

The 2015 revision also has an increased emphasis on leadership and a requirement for ISO 9001:2015 to be integrated and aligned with an organisation's strategy. This has the benefit of ensuring the quality management system is embedded within the organisation as well as minimising duplication.

The structure of the standard has also been changed, aligning it to other management standards. This has the benefit of reducing duplication of activities.

ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management System
ISO 14001: 2015 also recognises the increased emphasis on leadership, strategy alignment and risk management.

It also introduces broader thinking over what constitutes compliance, ensuring the organisation is committed to the “protection of the environment” going beyond compliance and aligning with best industry practice.

Significantly different concepts have been introduced under “Operational planning and control” in the 2015 edition. The “life cycle perspective” is key and from an organisation's perspective, having key environmental components as part of a contractor selection and evaluation process will be critical to achieve the desired outcomes.

ISO45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management System 2016
As announced by the ISO Committee Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems, ISO 45001 will replace other occupational health and safety standards such as OHSAS 18001 and AS/NZS 4801 as an Australian/New Zealand standard.

This standard to be published in 2016 will be based on the same high level structure as ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, making it easier to align processes and minimise duplication.

There continue to be a number of benefits to certification and embracing forthcoming changes sooner rather than later allows you to realise these benefits.

Reprinted with permission from Compass Assurance Services.

Stuart Patch is an executive trainer, business consultant and company director who specialises in the areas of financial management, risk management, project management and procurement.  Stuart’s customized training services and business consulting are backed up by an extensive global career working as Finance Director for large listed organisations.