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Who is ISO? (International Organization for Standardization)

Who is ISO?

ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is a network of standards institutes from 159 countries with a central office in Geneva, Switzerland, that coordinates the system.

ISO is a non-governmental organizationthat forms a bridge between the public and private sectors, and is the largest standards organization in the world.

  • Many of its member institutes are part of the governmental structure of their countries, or are mandated by their government.
  • Some members have their roots uniquely in the private sector, having been set up by national partnerships of industry associations.
  • Therefore, ISO enables a consensus to be reached on solutions that meet both the requirements of business and the broader needs of society.

Just Who is ISO and How it Works

The International Standards Organization (ISO) works under its 200 technical committees and over 500 subcommittees (whom these days often work remotely) in over 30 countries (See Complete list of ISO Member Countries) and 90 different metropolitan areas. Guiding all of this is a 150 person “secretariat” and the funding for this permanent organization largely comes from the selling of the actual standards themselves (a reason that no one including The 9000 store is allowed to reproduce or “give away” the standards specifically). Another part of “Who is ISO” is the nature of the standards as being voluntary and largely unregulated. However, there are cases (as noted above) where individual countries have written many of the standards into local law.

It is important to realize exactly what and who ISO is. For example, ISO does not actually “certify” any group directly. Rather there are certification organizations that perform that task of auditing and then certifying an organization’s quality management systems. These groups (often known as registrars), must themselves be certified under a separate standard, ISO/IEC TS 17021. The certification process involves a registrar “auditing” a group to ensure that their operations are in compliance with processes outlined in the current ISO 9001:2008 standard (see about future updates). Where inconsistencies or “non conformities” are found, the group must typically create a program for correcting these problems before a certificate of registration can be issued.

In granting certification, the registrar is certifying that the quality management system of the entity specifically applicable to the area in which they operate (i.e. manufacturing a particular type of product, or providing a specific service) has been assessed and approved r in accordance with the provisions of ISO 9001:2008. This approval is typically valid for a period of three years, after which the company must recertify that its procedures meet the current form of the standard. This process is to be monitored by the registrar during that period of time. As you can see, just who is ISO and the scope of their operations is important to the registration process.

How Popular Is ISO Certification?

The 2011 ISO Certification Survey is the latest report by ISO of certification to various ISO standards and provides a projection of how many registrations were performed in that period. For instance, while ISO 9001 certifications showed a slight (only 1%) decline, other standards grew. For example, ISO 14001 and ISO 13485 each increased by 6% while ISO/TS 16949 increased by 6%. Essentially the survey shows where and with who is ISO gaining and losing with respect to its major standards.

* Some attribute this decline to the upcoming changes in the standard which are outlined below.

Just Who is ISO Serving?

In yet another type of recent survey, ISO looked at the types of organizations that chose to become ISO 9001:2008 certified. Based on nearly 12,000 responses, some highlights included:

  • In noting their product/service category, services accounted for 43 %, hardware for 31 %, processed materials for 19 % and software for 7% of the responses.
  • As to why they chose to become ISO 9001:2008 certified, 16% said self declared conformance, 23% said it was a mandated customer requirement, 26% cited market need, 30% said it was to improve customer satisfaction and 4% gave other reasons.
  • In describing the ongoing relevance of ISO 9001:2008, 64% said the standard was acceptable but wanted upcoming enhancements, 27% said it was fine as is, 5% said it is no longer relevant to their operation and 4% gave other answers.

In describing who ISO is best serving and how they should improve survey respondents seem to indicate that most improvements would be made to address ever changing global and business requirements, which is really addressing the roots of why ISO 9001 was created.

Is ISO for You?

As the survey above indicates, who is an ISO candidate depends upon the situation and motivation. For many the expense of doing so is greatly outweighed by the benefits. Here at The 9000 store, we have assembled a number of tools and body of information to help you perform as much of the process yourself as possible, to help reduce costs and increase the total value of your ISO 9001 certification.

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