A certificate is a documented piece of paper that increase the credibility to the product or service of an organization/industry. It is a document that demonstrates that company is doing everything according to the standards and has implemented a reliable system of producing and delivering products and services.

The two-fold focus is involved in this ‘system’to provide consistent products and services; and continual improvement in processes to achieve better results. Certification is a contractual or a legal requirement for most of the companies. ISO has over 2100 standards and each standard serves a different purpose.

ISO itself does not perform certification, it is an organization that set only international standards and provides with general auditing terms and conditions. Certification is given by a third party. This third party gives certification after a thorough audit and according to the type of industry.

This article will provide in depth details and a complete cadre from the very basic to the end, about ISO certification process.

Need Assessment

This is the first step towards ISO certification and in this need assessment is done by asking some questions and then trying to find the answers of those questions. Different gap analysis is performed and flaws in existing system are determined.

  • What are the specific requirements of ISO?
  • How the requirements of the ISO are related to my company?
  • What requirements are applicable to my company?
  • Is there a need to implement the complex documentation process?
  • How long will this take?
  • What are the resources required to get the certification?
  • Will ISO be able to tackle or remove the flaws in the system and add value to the business?
  • How to ensure that ISO doesn’t merely become a documentation exercise only?
  • What are the other options to get this done?
  • Is company in a position to adapt a change?

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Effective Change Management

After having clear answers of the above-mentioned questions, the company will move toward the effective change management. Workers and staff always oppose the change and they do not want to come out of their comfort zone and this is the very challenging stage. To overhead this, awareness sessions are conducted, in which workers and staff is told about the benefits of the new system and how will new system help them and increase efficiency and productivity. Benefits may be related to ease in work, better environment, better health activities and Pollution free environment.

Change implementation is a tough task because it involves a complete change of mind of working staff. That’s why an effective change management is required to get the desired results.

Staff Allocation

Staff allocation is very important for gaining certification. Only those members of the staff are kept in the team who are responsible and can understand the nature of work. Clear instructions are given to them and they should be provided with their job descriptions and clear state them what is company expecting of them and where their responsibilities lie.

It’s likely that a whole team of staff will be involved in getting the organization ready for certification.  Specific standard ISO Requirements are breaking down into smaller parts and are fed in the intranet system available within the organization with some elaborations which help the staff navigate their way through the requirements and made the requirements available and accessible everywhere in the company.

Sharing of Information

Information sharing, communication and co-ordination among the team members are the key factors responsible for the success and failure of a project. Modes of information sharing may be different and vary from company to company. The better way of doing it is to create some space in intranet or any software available in the company so that every activity being performed must be approachable and accessible to every member of the team. Staff must be allowed to collaborate, share ideas and insights as well as the latest news and updates in the system.

Documentation Management

Management of documentation is a fundamental aspect of successful ISO certification. Every process must be documented by the staff members whether an organization is certified or is starting, the key is to let the processes that are used to meet its goals determine documentation requirements. The standard has many instances where it calls for the specific evidence of conformity.

The Standard asks several times for the evidence of conformity which can only be dealt by providing specific documented results. A documented procedure must be established to define the controls needed for records:

  • Identification of specific document when required
  • Storage of documents at allocated space
  • Protection of the documentation
  • Retrieval of documents when to ask for
  • Retention of documents as it could be asked any time
  • Keep every record legible, readily available, identifiable and retrievable.

Documents can be kept in updated version of the intranet system of the company so that the documents are available online and staff members can work simultaneously and can edit the same document in real time.

Corrective and Preventive Actions

This is the practical stage and things will go wrong from time to time. About ISO certification the important thing is how you deal with problems and what type of countermeasures you would take to that these problems would not rise again. The organization shall take actions to eliminate the causes of nonconformity in order to prevent recurrence (Corrective Actions) and organization shall determine actions to eliminate the causes of potential non-conformities in order to prevent their occurrence (Preventive Actions). All these actions must be documented because these will help in future for reality-based decision making.

Awareness and Training Sessions

Achieving ISO certification is likely to be a sloppy learning curve for the members of the team. Training is necessary to check the capability of the members and their commitment in meeting the challenge. A proper and comprehensive training plan must be made which will include the step by step processes and procedures involved in achieving the certification. These training sessions will help the members to understand the complete framework for gaining the certification. Assessment of the trainings will help to measure the effectiveness of training sessions. In training sessions those who are performing well must be rewarded and encouraged to keep it doing the same way.

Customer and Staff Involvement

An encouraging environment must be established so that staff members feel easy to share ideas and a mechanism for the involving the customer must be established.


After performing the above tasks, some activities which are common in every ISO must be taken into account:

Context of Organization

It must be in documented form that:

  1. What type of organization?
  2. Define the scope of the organization.
  3. What type of products or services is company producing?
  4. Internal & External Issues

Internal and external issues must be defined and what type of competitors are company in competition.

Needs and Expectations of Interested parties

What are the needs and expectations of customers and suppliers and what is company expecting from them?

Risk Based thinking

Risk based thinking is the main feature of every standard. In this risk analysis of every action is done and then control actions are advised to taken.

Risks & Opportunity

After finding out the risks, actions are taken to counter the risks (Corrective actions) and also the actions are taken to prevent their re-occurrence (Preventive actions). With all these plan is established to avail every opportunity.


After doing all that Top management will design the policy. Policy includes the clear statement about what we do and what we achieve.


First initial audit (surveillance audit) is done which will give the idea about the how much the system is in compliance with ISO standards. After that internal audit and external audits are done and if the system is found in compliance then certification is awarded.

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