What does ISO Mean? Understanding ISO 

Reading Time: 6 minutes
Published on: January 23, 2024

In the vast and interconnected world of global trade and industry, standardisation plays a pivotal role in ensuring consistency, quality, and efficiency. One of the foremost organisations contributing to this global effort is the International Organisation for Standardisation, commonly known as ISO. Except, most people don’t know what ISO is, and what they do. 

In this blog, we’re going to discuss: 

What is ISO?

ISO, short for the International Organisation for Standardisation, is a global body that develops and publishes voluntary international standards across various industries and sectors. It’s a non-governmental organisation comprising representatives from national standards bodies of different countries. ISO works collaboratively to establish benchmarks, best practices, and guidelines.

Based in Geneva, Switzerland, ISO has a rich history dating back to 1947 when delegates from 25 countries gathered to establish a new international organisation for standardisation. The aim was to foster international coordination and unification of industrial standards, recognising the importance of consistency in products and services across borders. 

What does ISO do?

The core function of ISO revolves around the development and maintenance of international standards that organisations worldwide can voluntarily adopt and implement. These standards cover a broad spectrum, including quality management, environmental practices, information security, and various other areas. By establishing these benchmarks, ISO aims to promote uniformity, safety, efficiency, and quality in products, services, and systems globally. 

While ISO doesn’t enforce compliance, its standards serve as guidelines and requirements frameworks that organisations can integrate into their processes to meet global expectations, enhance competitiveness, and facilitate international trade while encouraging innovation and continual improvement.

It’s important to note that ISO does not actually certify businesses to ISO Management System Standards. Certification is provided to organisations by Accredited Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) across the globe.

What are ISO Management System Standards?

Essentially, an ISO Standard is an internationally proven and recognised way for a business to run its operations aligned with a particular discipline.

Each ISO Standard is designed to address a particular aspect of business, whether it’s quality management, environmental sustainability, information security, or other critical areas.

These standards provide a well-established set of guidelines or requirements that businesses can implement to achieve a higher level of efficiency, reliability, and consistency in their processes.

Did you know? 
All ISO Standards are actual licensed documents that need to be purchased. They provide a set of requirements or guidelines for what a business needs to do in order to meet the intended Standard. Visit Standards Australia to search for and purchase a copy of your chosen standard(s).

How are ISO Standards created? 

ISO Standards are only developed once there is an identified industry need for standardisation. Experts begin working to prepare a draft, including its scope, key definitions and content. The draft is then shared with all ISO National members for review, where the approval process begins in various stages. Once all ISO members are satisfied with the standard, it will be published and available for the public to use, and in some cases, for organisations to work towards Certification to that Standard when applicable.

All ISO Standards are then reviewed approximately every five years by the relevant ISO member bodies. This could result in confirmation, revision (resulting in a new updated version published), or complete withdrawal of the standard.

What are the main ISO Management System Standards?

There are over 24,000 ISO Standards available, each one developed to address different aspects or challenges that affect organisations globally. The standards serve as a framework to manage a variety of technical topics and processes throughout a business and achieve set goals and industry requirements.

The most widely-adopted ISO Management System Standards are:

ISO 9001:2015, ISO 45001:2018, ISO 14001:2015 and ISO 27001:2022.

Let’s briefly have a look at each of these standards:

  • ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management Systems is globally recognised as the most popular ISO Standard. It provides organisations with a framework for implementing a world-class management system to drive continuous improvement and growth. The standard also enables businesses to achieve consistency in its operations and services, as well as meet, and exceed, customer and regulatory requirements.
  • ISO 45001:2018 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems helps businesses to manage health and safety risks and opportunities, reduce hazards, and ultimately provide a safer working environment for all employees and other stakeholders.
  • ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management Systems provides a framework for better environmental management control, with the goal of reducing the business’ environmental impacts.
  • ISO 27001:2022 Information Security Management Systems assists businesses to preserve and protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of all relevant data and information in an organisation.

How can ISO Management System Standards help your business?

A business can choose to implement a Standard to enjoy its benefits, and not necessarily go for Certification. However, being certified to an ISO Standard adds extra value to your business. Although the process of achieving the certification may seem overwhelming, having an ISO Certification can be quite rewarding as your business will benefit by:

  • Qualifying for more tenders, contracts and international trade
  • Increasing and improving brand reputation to boost stakeholder confidence
  • Elevating business planning and aligning with organisational strategy
  • Improving profit margins and reduced costs through improved efficiencies
  • Enhancing business structure and standardising systems for sustainable growth

Ready to get ISO Certified?

Now you understand what ISO means, are you ready to take the first step in your ISO journey?

Our team of experienced professionals understands the intricacies of ISO Certification across various industries. We don’t just help you meet the requirements; we work hand-in-hand with you to integrate the requirements of the standards seamlessly into your operations, fostering a culture of excellence and continual improvement.

Call us now on 1300 614 007 or book your online FREE Strategy Session to solve any further questions about ISO and the Certification Process, or to discuss a tailored solution for your business.

About the author

Andressa (alias Andy) is the General Manager of ISO Certification Experts and ICExperts Academy, heading our Marketing department and coordinating the internal improvement initiatives and projects. With an MBA in Project Management, and over 10 years of experience in customer service and project management across many industries, she brings valuable knowledge to the business and our operations. Alongside her professional expertise, Andressa holds a genuine passion for sustainability and the environment.

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