ISO Certification myths vs reality

ISO certification is widely recognised as a mark of quality and compliance with international standards. However, there are several misconceptions that people may have about ISO certification. Addressing these myths can help businesses and individuals better understand the value and purpose of ISO certification.


Outlined below are common misconceptions about ISO certification.

  1. ISO certification requires a full-time person to just mange ISO certification.
    ISO certification requires a full-time person to manage ISO certification.
    Reality: Depending on the size of the organisation a full-time person is not necessarily required to mange ISO certification. What a lot of organisations do is appoint a project manager who then gets required input from various stakeholders throughout the organisation. Some organisations also opt to utilise the services of a management system consultant.
  1. ISO certification guarantees perfect products or services.
    The misconception is that some people believe that achieving ISO certification means that a company’s products or services are flawless.
    Reality: ISO certification emphasises the implementation of management systems and processes, but it does not guarantee perfection. It demonstrates a commitment to continuous improvement.
  2. ISO certification is only for large corporations.
    Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may think that ISO certification is only suitable for large corporations.
    Reality: ISO standards are scalable and can be adapted for organisations of any size. Many SMEs find value in ISO certification to improve efficiency and competitiveness.
  3. ISO certification is too expensive.
    There is a belief that obtaining and maintaining ISO certification is prohibitively expensive.
    Reality: While there are costs associated with certification, the long-term benefits often outweigh the initial investment. Improved processes and increased efficiency can result in cost savings over time. There is also the increase in competitive advantage in the market place which could mean that ISO certification helps your organisation win larger contracts.
  4. ISO certification only involves senior management.
    Some believe that ISO certification only involves senior management.
    Reality: All staff need to be involved in the ongoing management of ISO certification. By getting staff buy in will ensure that all staff participate and even identify ongoing organisational improvements in the management system.
  5. ISO certification is only about documentation.
    Some believe that ISO certification is primarily about creating extensive documentation without providing tangible benefits.
    Reality: Documentation is a crucial part of ISO standards, but certification is about implementing effective processes, continuous improvement, and achieving specific business objectives. Implementation of ISO certification could also help the organisation implement more streamlined and automated processes.
  6. ISO certification is a one-time achievement.
    Organisations might think that once certified, they don’t need to focus on continuous improvement.
    Reality: ISO standards emphasise continual improvement. Certification is an ongoing process that requires regular audits and a commitment to refining processes over time. Once ISO certified the organisation needs to complete surveillance audits and every three years complete a recertification audit.
  7. ISO certification is only for quality, not for other business aspects.
    Some believe that ISO certification only pertains to product or service quality and not other aspects of the business.
    Reality: ISO standards cover various aspects, including environmental management, information security, and occupational health and safety, depending on the standard chosen. Specific clients may specify that awarding a contract(s) is conditional to the organisation being ISO certified to a specific standard(s).
  1. ISO certification is just about meeting requirements.
    Some organisations may view ISO certification as a checkbox exercise to meet minimum requirements.
    Reality: While meeting requirements is essential, ISO certification encourages organisations to go beyond compliance and focus on continual improvement and excellence. ISO certification is also an opportunity to identify and automate organisational processes.
  2. ISO certification can be achieved quickly.
    ISO certification can be obtained rapidly without thorough implementation.
    Reality: Gaining ISO certification involves the completion of a gap analysis followed by the ISO certification audit. In order to maintain ISO certification status surveillance audits and recertification audits need to be completed.


ISO Certification myths vs reality

ISO certification is an ongoing process that just does not stop once ISO certification is achieved. Addressing misconceptions can help organisations and individuals better appreciate the true value of ISO certification and understand that it’s a dynamic process aimed at enhancing overall business performance.

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