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Who is ISO?
(International Organization for Standardization)

Many people ask “What is ISO?” or “What does ISO mean?”. The better question to ask would be “Who is ISO?”.  To learn more about ISO and about ISO certification, click on the following sections:

Who is ISO?

ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is a network of standards institutes from 164 countries with a central office in Geneva, Switzerland, that coordinates the system.

ISO is a non-governmental organization that 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.

How does ISO Work?

It is important to understand how ISO works. 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 9001:2015 standard. 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.

Granting Certification

Being granted certification means that 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 in accordance with the provisions of ISO 9001:2015. Once your organization is granted certification, your organization will receive a certification mark that you can use on stationery, websites and vehicle livery.

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?

Current figures show that over 1 million companies are certified to ISO 9001:2015 in more than 170 countries.  ISO 14001 and ISO 13485 each increased by 6% while ISO/TS 16949 increased by 6%. Essentially the survey shows where and with who ISO is gaining and losing with respect to its major standards.

What types of organizations become ISO certified?

In yet another type of recent survey, ISO looked at the types of organizations that chose to become ISO 9001:2015 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?

Reading the survey above can help you understand if ISO certification is right your for your organization. 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.


Our All-in-One Certification Package is a proven, efficient system. It gives you all you need to prepare for registration – in one simple to use package.

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Customer Review:

"I have just passed my ISO-9001 Audit with zero non-conformances for the second year in a row using your ISO products to write my entire QMS. Thank you for producing documents of this quality"

Bettye Patrick

United Plating, Inc