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ISO Certification Process: 6 Steps to Achieving Certification - FocusIMS

ISO Certification Process: 6 Steps to Achieving Certification

Why do some organisations find it easy while others struggle with the ISO certification process? We’ll show you the six steps to get that certification fast!

ISO certification is a prestigious reward for a business meeting the requirements of the standards and continual improvement. 

It is a sign of accomplishment and know-how. And it puts your business at a level higher than your competitors without certification. 

Despite this, many confidently start the ISO certification process but abandon the process and revert to old ways. What causes some to have it “easy” while others struggle all the way there?

We will show you six steps that you can take to get that certification!

1. Know what the certification means

Decide on which standards you are looking to get certified. The most common are

  • ISO9001 Quality Management system,
  • ISO45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management systems and
  • ISO14001 Environmental Management Systems.

The next decision is regarding the scope you want to get certified for, i.e., what your organisation does.

Certification takes work! It is the reality you must face first, before any other. 

It takes time, commitment, effort, and money. The choice to certify indicates that your organization is not merely satisfied with plain compliance but also excels with continual improvement.

What we find is when companies take on certification, they find varied and significant benefits for their business that more than covers the costs associated with getting certified.

2. Get top management and people involved

Once you have considered the scope and standards for the certification process, approach your top management and present the idea. State the benefits of ISO certification, the cost, and the time frame it takes to earn it. 

Once top management has committed to it, break the plan down to assigning tasks, create job descriptions, and appoint managers over the various functions within the certification framework.

Talk to the employees in general and brief them on the changes that will occur due to the certification process. Show them the breakdown of the certification executive team and let them gain buy-in in the project.

Like the top management, other employees must understand that some changes will be required, outline the risks and opportunities and be prepared to answer questions. It will also be a good time to agree on the frequency of update meetings about the progress of the certification.

Also read How to Get ISO-Certified Simply and Easily

3. Choose a reliable Champion

The Champion ensures that all the tasks and processes required for certification are monitored and achieved. It can be an internal employee or an external consultant. 

Often a consultant will work with an Internal Champion to bring a good balance of knowledge of the certification processes and progress. They are likely to see pitfalls, delays, successes, and other components more readily than someone with less experience in the certification process. 

Together they will ensure the process has the best chance of success and continual progress.

4. Perform a Gap Analysis

A gap analysis is the starting point to determine what needs doing. Often this will be completed by a consultant. The consultant will pre-audit the policy and procedures you have and identify any gaps in the requirements of the standards.

Ideally done by the ISO consultant, it helps an organization see where they are, and the work needed to improve the processes and systems to get them to certification. The results of this step modify the entire project plan and may create more tasks depending on the gap itself.

The gap analysis is the precursor to change that is much needed in the ISO certification process.

5. Internal then external audit

Once processes and procedures align with the specific standards, you perform an internal audit

An internal audit is an iterative step because an honest audit will bring out discrepancies between the current system and the desired one. With each iteration, the gap closes, and finally, the business is ready for an external audit.

The certifier or an independent team primarily carries out an external audit. The team will audit all the standards within the desired certification. This final compliance audit, if successful, will confirm your organization for certification.

6. Certification

You acquire certification once you address any significant non-conformances. 

All the stakeholders in the process deserve a pat on the back once you get certified. The team now commits to maintaining the standards of their certification. 

From here, your organisation would typically have at least an annual internal audit, an external surveillance audit by the certification body, and then a recertification audit every three years.

If you would like to organise a gap analysis for your business, get in contact through:


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If you would like to get certified quickly with our cloud-based solution with documents that already cover the requirements of the standards, why not sign up for FocusIMS 2-week Free Trial and start seeing improvements today?