ISO Compliance vs. Certification

Businesses have a lot to benefit from the ISO Certification and Compliance standards set by the International Organization for Standardization. You can choose to be ISO compliant or invite an external party to evaluate your business for ISO certification.  Whichever way you go is determined by several factors, some of which you will learn in a few paragraphs, but first, what is the difference between the two terms?

What is the Difference Between ISO Compliance ISO Certification?

The two terms are similar in the sense that both are following the requirements provided by the ISO. On the other hand, their primary difference is: Who is saying that you are following ISO’s requirements? And can you prove it?

When you say that you are ISO Compliant, it is you, the company, that is feels compliant. On the other hand, to get the ISO Certificate, an external party must say that you are compliant with the set standards.

This sounds vague, right? Here is a breakdown of how the two work.

ISO Compliance

ISO Compliance means that you have independently implemented the guidelines provided for by the ISO on a specific standard. This means that you autonomously evaluate how compliant your business is without inviting external parties. Think of it as an honest self-evaluation mechanism.

Additionally, you can even have internal auditors to evaluate each department’s activities and whether they are compliant with the standards set. When you aim for compliance, you are not required to document each activity you do in compliance with the standard but have to be true to yourself to increase ISO compliance benefits.

 ISO compliance helps companies improve their management standards, improve efficiency, improve their products’ quality, expand the company’s information security, and manage energy consumption, among other benefits of ISO standards.

Companies choose compliance over certification to avoid paying an external body for certification and recertification that comes with ISO Certification.  In this case, the answer to who says that you are ISO compliant is you, the company.

ISO Certification

On the other hand, ISO certification means that you have followed the ISO procedures and have invited an external party to audit your compliance. The external party, also known as a certification body, reviews your overall processes and products to ascertain that you are ISO Compliant. After finding that you are ISO compliant, the certification body gives you a certificate.

It is important to note at this point that ISO does not give certification. Instead, ISO relies on experts in various fields and offers guidelines on how best to carry out the specific area activities that businesses get certified. ISO then mandates ISO certification to external certification bodies that follow guidelines provided by the Committee on Conformity Assessment.

Unlike in ISO compliance, for you to get ISO certified, you must record every activity that aligns with the ISO standard that you are looking to get approved. The certification body audits the records that you provide before physically evaluating how you carry out your business and the products that you provide.

Certification is a voluntary undertaking, although you might lose business because some organizations strictly do business with ISO certified companies. You can decide to start with a basic Quality Management Systems ISO 9001 certification, and then you can, with time, get certified on other parts of your business. Other Certifications include, among others:

  • Information Security Certification (ISO 27001)
  • Risk Management Certification (ISO 31000)
  • Environmental Management Certification (ISO 14001)
  • Social Responsibility Certification (ISO 26000)
  • Business Continuity Certification (ISO 22301)
  • Anti-Bribery Management Systems Certification (ISO 37001)
  • Occupational Health and Safety Certification (ISO 45001)

ISO certification is valid for three years, after which you apply for recertification. When renewing your ISO certificate, a certification body will evaluate how you have adhered to the ISO guidelines of the certification that you hold. You will be required to record your activities for the past three years and invite the certification body to your offices and other locations where you carry your business for certification.

It would be best if you invited certification bodies to evaluate your business for recertification evaluation three months before the current certification expiry to give the auditing firm to carry out its mandate. In case the certification body finds that you are a non-conformant, they may refuse to recertify you.

Get ISO Compliance or Certification Help

ISO compliance and certification are vital to your business since the guidelines give you a framework to evaluate how you carry out your business, easily manage efficiency, and reduce business risk, among other benefits.

Are you looking for an ISO Certification Body? Best ISO Certification (BIC) not only evaluates your business but also helps you with compliance assessment and gives you instant approval followed by a certificate within three working days.

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