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ISO compliance for mine is the art of adhering to the requirements of ISO standards.

In business, standards are needed to ensure a consistent level of service quality. Although ISO compliance itself isn’t a legal requirement, the standards will naturally align with different regulations across industries. ISO compliance means using ISO standards as guidelines for aligning your policies, processes, and operating procedures so to adhere to the standard.

ISO compliance is different than ISO certification. Formal ISO certification typically involves a lengthy, sometimes costly process where an independent body conducts a comprehensive audit and then provides written assurance that your product or service meets the requirements of designated ISO standards. The ISO organisation does not provide the actual certifications or assessments, which is why these are also known as “third-party conformity assessments.”

Why it is a game-changer for businesses?

To fully understand ISO compliance, it’s helpful to understand what ISO is. ISO is the acronym for the International Organisation for Standardisation, a global, non-government organisation whose members represent various national standards organisations. ISO members bring together experts “to share knowledge and develop voluntary, consensus-based, market-relevant international standards that support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges.”

ISO standards are the cumulative recommendations of these subject matter experts who fully understand the needs of the specific industry organisations they represent, like producers, manufacturers, processors, buyers, distributers, customers, users, or regulators.

Why is ISO compliance important?

Many companies choose to become ISO-certified because it can give them a competitive advantage. While there are no fines or penalties for ISO non-compliance, if you’re a manufacturer, distributer or service industry provider, ISO certification ensures that your procedures, products, and services meet the highest, internationally recognised standards. It is your collective job to make sure that you are complaint to the standard and your customer requirements.

Why does ISO compliance matter?

In addition to increasing your credibility, being ISO-certified can also influence other benefits, such as lower insurance premiums (because of good practices in place) and increased sales (as a result of efficient, quality production) along with….

  • Increased reputational value
  • Improved performance capabilities
  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • Reduced costs
  • Improved risk management

ISO compliance can be an efficient path to driving lasting improvements in specific business areas, ISO standards provide clear insight into what is best practice and are therefore an important tool in change management. Organisations gain clarity through reviewing old processes through the lens of ISO compliance and best practice and embedding new ones that meet ISO compliance standards.

Tip – Regular noncompliance will affect all the above and third-party audits, resulting in putting both your customers and your ISO certification(s) at risk.

ISO compliance benefits organisations by providing clear standards—from international experts—with which to operate their businesses. ISO compliance and, in turn, ISO certification is particularly important regarding compliance and solutions to manage a multi-disciplined manufacturing operation.

ISO System in Compliance…..

While ISO certification provides independent validation of a company’s conformity to a set of standards created by the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO), the certification process can be long. This is where being routinely focused on your ISO system rather than being focused on being compliant pays dividends.

Currently, I maintain 3 ISO standards; 9001-14001-45001in an integrated system. The compliance and systems aim ensures that the company’s customers and suppliers know that the business meets global quality standards and can be trusted. However, in turn, the business needs to conduct thorough audits on a regular basis to maintain its status, this includes monitoring activities and maintaining documentation regarding all operations.

What is business critical is how these are proactively handled by top-management which is key. This will ensure that the company has adequate documentation, and its processes and procedures are robust and compliant to maintain its ISO management system as an ISO-compliant organisation.

Tip – By maintaining and evolving your ISO management system, you can improve your brand image, boost sales, and open more revenue streams by impressing customers and investors.

ISO compliance is an efficient demonstration for businesses to show accountability against requirements, particularly those adhering to ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management Systems, and ISO 45001:2018 Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems.

But regarding ISO 9001:2015, organisations should pursue Quality instead of chasing compliance. Far too often, companies focus on doing the bare minimum to achieve compliance with customers and standards related to Quality. Those companies tend to view quality culture as a task for the Quality department, but it must be approached as a company-wide effort. Here’s the thing – just because you’re in compliance doesn’t mean you’re producing a quality product or service.

Considering the needs and requirements of internal and external customers, will result in achieving such a high level of quality that compliance becomes a natural by-product. Quality teams are often viewed as separate from the rest of the organisation because they often assume the authority to inspect work, request corrections, raise nonconformance.

As such they unknowingly assume the responsibility for halting progress momentum, and unwantedly the reputation for working “against production”. Obviously, this isn’t a fair way to view quality staff members, and it’s a mindset you should be vigilant in correcting if you come across it within your own company. Your whole Organisation should embrace a quality mindset in everything you do, and every interaction across departments.

What are the benefits?

If quality is at the apex of your operation, when problems do occur getting to the ‘true’ root of the problem depends on the supporting structure in place and open to identify the quality problem. Solving quality issues and problems goes beyond root cause.  Uncovering real causes of quality issues and problems requires different, deeper scrutiny than identifying root causes. Ineffective investigations threaten compliance, quality, and your ability to become the market leader.

Remember, everybody is involved in Quality!

What better way than to implement systems at every level, with accountabilities in all areas through proper ownership of processes and a proper view above compliance that “almost” isn’t good enough!

Tip – When quality is truly embraced in all facets of a company, you have a better product, service and face fewer head winds.

Published by

Quality & Systems Manager

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