Have you ever wondered who decided which paper sizes would be considered “standard”?
Just think of how confusing it would be — and how much time and money would be wasted — if every paper manufacturer across the world decided independently which sizes of paper they should sell. You’d have to worry with every purchase whether your paper would fit into a certain printer, copier, filing cabinet, or envelope.
The International Organization for Standardization (which uses the standard international abbreviation of ISO) has come to the rescue for just this type of standardization work.
ISO is an international, nongovernmental organization that works with subject matter experts to decide on international standards for things like production, processing, delivery, and more. Its goals are to make products compatible, promote safety, and share best practices across the world.
Following these international standards may be a huge benefit in and of itself. However, taking the next step and getting certified in certain standards can provide even more perks. Certification can lend credibility to your organization, for one thing. In other cases, certification may be required by law or by a potential business partner.
Read on to find out more about ISO certification and which kind of companies it works best for.
More About the ISO Standards of Families
ISO has established more than 20,000 standards since the organization was founded in 1947.
Each standard is identified by a unique number. (Numbers are ideal identifiers for an international organization because they don’t need to be translated from one language to the next.) ISO standard numbers are assigned somewhat at random, although the standards-makers may try to use numbers that are related in some way if the standards are related and the numbers are available.
Here are a few of the most popular standards listed by ISO:
- ISO 9000 standards family – These set the standards for “quality management” for businesses, and they’re general enough to be used by any organization, large or small, regardless of its field of activity.
- ISO/IEC 27001 standards – This standard establishes best practices for “info security management.” Namely, it suggests how digital information should be handled.
- ISO 3166 – This is simple, but popular: ISO 3166 establishes official country codes.
What are the Benefits of Following ISO Standards?
There can be significant benefits when adopting international standards from ISO. Here are just a few of the potential perks:
- Better staff performance and productivity – Formalizing a system of procedures, documents, responsibilities, and processes clarifies employees’ jobs and gives them clear goals to hit.
- Clear processes – Any company can benefit from having all of their processes written down, with important responsibilities clearly assigned and valuable metrics identified.
- Improve efficiency and reduce waste – In almost every industry, there are opportunities to do things more quickly and for less cost. Better procedures and standards prevent wasteful mistakes and delays. But perhaps more importantly, using standards that have been developed by international experts puts your organization on the cutting edge saves years of experience and effort.
- Improved customer experience – Happier employees and quicker operations generally lead to a better customer experience, too. And in some cases, standards spell out exactly how to isolate your customers’ needs and meet them.
- International adaptability – With these kinds of improved processes based on international standards, your company or organization can gain a competitive advantage in the global marketplace and enter new markets easily.
Which Industries can Benefit From ISO Certification?
Not all ISO standards come with options for certification, and ISO doesn’t actually issue the certifications. Certification happens via external certification bodies (although the certification process itself is — you guessed it — subject to its own ISO standards).
For example, the most popular certification, ISO 9001, is ideal for the following industries, according to ISO Ready and QMS Certification:
- Manufacturing – In manufacturing, most processes are repeated over and over continuously throughout the day. That makes it even more important that those processes are optimized for efficiency. Plus, safety is crucial in manufacturing — both for the employees building the products and for the customers receiving the finished products. A few specific types of include:
- Automotive Manufacturers – General Motors, Ford, Daimler Chrysler and others all require their supplies to get ISO certified for safety and quality reasons.
- Semiconductor Manufacturers – The special need for a controlled environment in this manufacturing process necessitates exceptional processes.
- Electronics Manufacturers – Assembling a cell phone, computer, or television requires efficiency and accuracy. Risking quality at any stage of the process will result in upset customers and a big hit to your brand.
- Construction – Of course safety is a huge concern for the construction industry, and relying on internationally recognized best practices can be especially helpful in an industry in which deadlines and budgets are usually tight.
- Engineering – Just like the other industries, engineering workers are also exposed to some risk at work that requires safety protocols. However, standards also help engineering firms keep costs in check.
Another popular ISO certification is the one for digital information storage, established in ISO/IEC 27001 standards. Dejan Kosutic of Advisera, which specializes in helping organizations implement top international standards and frameworks, mentions a few of the industries that are ideal for ISO 27001 certification:
- IT companies – This one is the most obvious, since it deals the most directly with digital information. Software companies and IT support companies may be required to comply with these protocols.
- The financial industry – Banks, insurance companies, brokerage houses, and other financial institutions seek this certification in order to comply with various laws and regulations around data privacy and prevent breaches.
- Telecommunication – Internet providers and phone service providers also need to comply with regulations. Plus, handling data properly helps them offer better, quicker service.
- Government agencies – Government agencies tend to handle very sensitive data, and the best practices in these standards help keep the info secure and available.
Of course, the industries that can benefit from better data practices and better management practices aren’t limited to just the ones we listed.
For example, any company that handles sensitive information can find ISO 27001 useful — and these days, that could technically include any company that handles personal data, which is now protected by regulations like Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation.Any company that handles sensitive information may find ISO certification useful. Click To Tweet
A Note About Records and Document Management
Although the ISO/IEC 27000 series specifies best practices for digital info, plenty of other ISO standards include best practices for handling information documentation and records management properly.
Among the records that most businesses keep that contain personal data are the company’s visitor logs.
As we wrote in our post on ISO record management, an ISO auditor might ask questions like these to when it comes to visitor records management:
- Who has access to what records and what kind of access do they have?
- Where are records stored and how are they protected?
- How is version control handled?
- How long are records stored, and how are they disposed of?
If you want to upgrade your visitor check-in system to one that’s more secure and streamlined, check out The Receptionist. We offer an easy, obligation-free, two-week free trial.
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