May 10, 2018

Lesser Known Facts about ISO Certification

As everyone is aware, ISO (elaborated as International Organization for Standardization), is the global leader of voluntary International Standards. For several years now, this organization is setting the standards that give state-of-the-art specifications for various businesses and/or products. This way, ISO is helping the businesses to become more efficient, as well as effective. As the organization has been developed through global consensus, the ISO standards are breaking the barriers of global trade. Some people might be already known about these. But, they are few things that are little known or completely unknown to the world. It’s time for us to learn about the lesser known facts about ISO certification. So, just read on…

The Organization doesn’t perform Certification Process:

While most of the people are aware that the ISO certification is useful for their businesses to add credibility, many of them are unaware that the ISO certification process is not being done by the International Organization for Standardization. Firstly, the business will aim to demonstrate that their product and/or service meet the needs of their customers. For some sectors, it has even become mandatory as part of the legal or contractual agreements. But, from whom they get their ISO certification? As the sub-heading suggests, it’s not being provided by ISO itself.

The International Organization for Standardization will only develop so-called International Standards like our ISO 9001 or ISO 14001. But, they do not involve in certification processes. Yes, you are right! They don’t issue ISO certificates as well. The certification process will be carried out by the external certification bodies only and hence, a business cannot be certified by the ISO. The process goes like this: the Committee on Conformity Assessment (CASCO) will produce several numbers of standards with regards to the ISO certification process. These standards will be then used by the external bodies during the certification process.

Picking an External Certification Body:

As mentioned above, ISO certification process will be carried out an external body and you need to consider a few factors while picking up an external body for you. As a first step in the selection process, we would advise you to evaluate several external certification bodies. Going with the first one you have found will not be the right way to do it. As such, in the evaluation process, you need to check if the particular certification body is making use of the relevant CASCO standards. To know more about the CASCO standards, click here.

Next, you must check if the particular certification body is accredited, although it’s not mandatory. However, we won’t say that all the non-accredited companies are not reputable. To sail in a safer boat, finding an accredited company is always better.

Note that several external bodies are there, but only a few registrars like G-PMC, LLC can offer a valuable service when it comes to ISO certification. The reason is that the company is internationally accredited, as well as globally recognized. Only with such companies, your money and time are saved!

Using your ISO Certificate:

We have seen many people using the term ‘ISO certification’ for their product or service. But, this is not the right way to use. Why we say this is just because the International Organization for Standardization is an international, non-governmental body that writes business standards. As mentioned earlier, they are not involved in the auditing of a business. The term ‘ISO certification’ would literally mean that the ISO has issued your certification, which in fact is wrong. The job of issuing the certification is being done by the registrar, which is a third-party organization.

So, if you are using or thinking to use the term ‘ISO certification’ in your marketing materials, you need to correct it. For example, if you are holding the 14001:2004 certification display the same in your marketing materials. Also, you should not write as “14001:2004 certified” or ‘14001:2004 certification”. For the example, the most appropriate format to display the certification will be “ISO 14001:2004 certified” or “ISO 14001:2004 certification”.

The difference between Accreditation, Certification, and Registration:

If you are of the thought that all these terms can be interchangeably used in ISO certification, then you are only partially correct. The term ‘accreditation’ here means the approval of an external certification body. In simple terms, it’s the certification of your registrar meaning that it’s competent to issue certifications to a business or company. A business or company that has got the ISO certification cannot say that it’s accredited because it’s the registrar that could hold the accreditation. If you look at the homepage of G-PMC, LLC, which is a registrar, you can see that it has the accreditation. So, accreditation is the matter of registrar and not the company or business.

Now, we understood that the terms accreditation and certification are different. But, the two terms ‘certification’ and ‘registration’ are essentially the same in ISO certification. This is because both of them refer to the actions that are being taken by your external certification body and if it says ‘certification or certified’, it would mean that they have issued the ISO certification to your business. Similarly, if it says ‘registration or registered’, then it means that they have added your business to their client register. Either of these would indicate the auditing process was successful.

Using Logos in your Certificate:

Some businesses will think about using the logo of the International Organization for Standardization in their ISO certificate. But remember, the logo of the ISO is the registered trademark of that organization and it cannot be used by any other company without their authorization. The only people who are allowed to use the ISO logo are the members of ISO and their technical committees. In short, it’s illegal to use, copy, modify, or change the ISO logo. Also, it’s equally illegal to use a modified or changed logo of the ISO.

So, what’s the best way to display your ISO certification through a logo? It’s simple than it may seem. The ISO certified companies are free to create their own logo or artworks to display their certification. Here, it’s to be noted that the registrar who issued you the certificate will always be interested in having their certification mark on the logo. But, it’s not mandatory for the companies to use their mark and you are free to apply your own ideas. This could be something based on your corporate logo or a completely new design. In the process, make sure that there is no hint of ISO logo being used. The logo you can create should be in such a way that it’s not mistaken for the logo of the ISO.

Whenever you choose to use your registrar’s mark, you must make sure that it is not misinterpreted to imply the product’s conformity. In fact, your registrar is certifying your business management system and not your products/services. If you still have any doubts, contact your registrar. It’s always good to ask your registrar to review your design before using the same.

Not for Products:

Everyone wants to promote their products and/or services by using their ISO certification. But, the promotion is tricky! Why because ISO certification doesn’t apply to the specific products and/or services as mentioned above. The certification is issued only to certify your business management system and not your products. Therefore, you can’t use the same for specific products. But, this doesn’t mean that you cannot use your certification for promotional aspects. You can say it as the product is produced by the ISO-certified company. This is why we are seeing the labels like ISO 14001:2004-certified quality/environment management system.

Alternatively, you can utilize your registrar’s certification mark on printable materials. If your registrar is globally recognized, then your products with the certification mark will gain importance among the customers. The printable materials include stationary, business cards, literature, and so on. You can also prepare some press releases and distribute them to key media sources like magazines, trade centers, local newspapers, etc.

Another approach is to spread the good news to your customers directly through letters or e-mail. Some businesses chose to display the certificate in a prominent location, say your office’s front lobby. Furthermore, you can use your website effectively to show that you are an ISO certified company by dedicating a page to tell about your management system and its ISO certification. Here, you can even use the electronic format of your certificate so that the people can easily peek into it.

The social media pages of your company can also be used in this regard. Other ways you can promote using your ISO certification is through flags, banners, ads, trade shows, open houses, reception, graphics, etc. You can also reward your employees for their hard efforts in gaining the certification. You can do this by creating some promotional items like pens, calendars, t-shirts, mugs, etc with the text ISO 14001:2004 (example) imprinted on it.

Bottom Line:

Thus, an ISO certification needs a lot of things to be understood and applied. This is why learning about ISO is critical for a business. But, once we learned it correctly, we could take advantage of the certification to market our products and/or services.