What is ISO, and why is it important for SMEs to get accredited?
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What is ISO?
ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is the world’s largest developer of voluntary International Standards. The ISO 9000 family of standards is related to quality management systems and designed to help organisations ensure that they meet the needs of customers and other stakeholders while meeting statutory and regulatory requirements related to the product. ISO gives state of the art specifications for products, services and good practice, helping to make the industry more efficient and effective (definition: Wikipedia).
- ISO help to break down barriers to international trade
- ISO ensure that products and services are safe, reliable and of good quality
What are the benefits of complying with International Standards?
ISO bring technological, economic and societal benefits. ISO help to harmonise technical specifications of products and services making the industry more efficient and breaking down barriers to international trade. Conformity to International Standards helps reassure consumers (read customers) that products are safe, efficient and good for the environment.
Benefits for business
ISO are strategic tools and guidelines to help companies tackle some of the most demanding challenges of modern business, reduces costs by minimizing waste and errors, and increasing productivity. These tools ensure that business operations are as efficient as possible, increasing productivity and helping companies to access new markets – leveling the playing field for developing countries to facilitate free and fair global trade.
- Cost savings – help optimize operations and therefore improve the bottom line
- Enhanced customer satisfaction – improve quality, customer satisfaction and increase sales
- Access to new markets – help prevent trade barriers and open up global markets
- Increased market share – help increase productivity and competitive advantage
- Environmental benefits – help reduce negative impacts on the environment
Benefits for Society
When products and services conform to International Standards, consumers can have confidence that they are safe, reliable and of good quality. Standards on air, water and soil quality, on emissions of gases and radiation and environmental aspects of products contribute to efforts to preserve the environment and the health of citizens.
What is meant by “a standard”, “continual improvement” and “audits”?
A standard is a document that provides requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose. All ISO's management system standards are based on the principle of continual improvement. An organisation or company assesses its current situation, fixes objectives, develops policy and implements actions to meet these objectives and then measures the results.
With this information the effectiveness of the policy, and the actions taken to achieve it, can be continually reviewed and improved.
Audits are a vital part of ISO's management system approach as they enable the company or organisation to check how far their achievements meet their objectives. External audits also play a role in showing conformity to the standard.
Article submitted by Phoenix Technologies
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