1 What is ISO certification?
ISO certification is certification to an International Standard. This certification provides external verification of the standard of your business systems (for example, to ISO 9001 Quality or ISO 14001 Environmental). This certification is based on the relevant ISO Standard and requires that a business has specific procedures, processes and continuous improvement elements operating.
For example, the International Standard ISO 14001, specifies requirements for an organisation to control its environmental impacts and continually improve its performance. This is achieved through the development of a structured system. The Standard does not specify environmental criteria that need to be met, only the requirements of the system.
A business must demonstrate to an accredited Certification Body that it has met all of the requirements of the specified Standard(s) in order to gain certification and must continue to demonstrate this through ongoing external audits.
2 What is the value of certification to a business?
The process of gaining certification requires the structured development
of business systems. This framework provides an effective tool for the
management of risk and continuous improvement (eg for Environmental Management,
Quality etc). This approach enables the business to continually improve its
system through external verification audits and use the system to continuously
improve its business.
Certification can provide businesses with competitive advantages through increased efficiencies, reduced costs (eg water and electricity) and greater assurance of legal compliance. Certified businesses may also gain competitive advantages through the use of certification symbols which promote their achievement and differentiate them from the competition.
3 What are management systems?
Systems are essentially the processes that you do to generate your income. Therefore, management systems are a formalised set of procedures (which may or may not all be documented) that ensure you consistently produce this outcome. This includes standardised processes like: identifying business risk, developing business objectives and targets, managing non-conformances with the system, reviewing the system and continuously improving.
The most effective business systems are those that integrate the processes that have developed over time to generate the income and the formal system requirements. In this way the system is what you do with incorporated business improvement strategies.
4 Why does my management system seem to demand so much time?
Management systems can
require high resource input during the initial development stages. During this
stage there is a high demand on developing the processes required for
certification. If this stage is managed well and an effective business system
is generated then the payback time on this initial investment is generally
There is a requirement for ongoing upkeep and maintenance of the system however this is generally less than the initial establishment time. Businesses can also experience large cost savings through improved resource efficiency (such as water and electricity) and reduced waste (eg cost of rework and wastage). These savings can further reduce the payback time if the systems are truly reflective of the business and well implemented.
5 Why aren’t my procedures enough?
The procedures that
describe how you do what you do are part of the requirements for certified
systems. However, there is also a requirement for specific processes for
business improvement (such as internal audits and management reviews).
The most effective business management systems are those which integrate the procedures that have developed over time to generate your income and these formal system requirements. These extra requirements are what can make the system more worthwhile as they create the formalised continuous improvement tools.
6 How do I get certified?
Certification requires an accredited Certification Body to perform audits of your systems to ensure compliance with the relevant Standard(s). If you have the procedures and systems in place then it may be beneficial to perform a gap analysis against the relevant Standard(s), or engage a consultant to perform this for you. This may identify potential issues before the certification audit. Some Certification Bodies will perform this audit prior to the certification audit.
If you are unsure whether you have sufficient procedures and processes or want help in developing your system then consultants (like Eco Ladybird) can assist in this development.
7 What are professional organisation services?
Professional organisation is a range of services to declutter, organise and maintain organised environments. These services can apply to homes and businesses and can include organising anything from wardrobes or garages to organising archive rooms. Successful organisation can save individuals and businesses large amounts of time in locating items and can greatly improve the effectiveness of management systems.