What is ISO Standards?

You may hear from somewhere about ISO standards. From a colleague, customer, boss, friend or radio DJ while driving to work.

Humm, what is ISO standards?

ISO standards touch almost everything in our daily life. Really? Let’s see!

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    What is ISO Standards?

    ISO is a short form for International Organization for Standardization.

    Let’s say Maybank is an organization that provides banking and financial services.

    ISO is an organization that develops and publishes International Standards.

    ISO is a non-governmental international organization since 1946. One member per country. ISO have 167 members country.

    ISO is independent; it gathers experts from member countries sharing knowledge to develop the ISO standard recognized by countries members.

    ISO standards were developed by 258 technical committee groups covering 40 fields.

    Example of, ISO/ TC, Technical Committees are

    • ISO/TC 22 Road vehicles
    • ISO/TC 21 Equipment for fire protection and fire fighting
    • ISO/TC 31 Tyres, rims and valves
    • ISO/TC 34 Food products
    • ISO/TC 35 Paints & varnishes
    • ISO/TC 38 Textiles
    • ISO/TC 61 Plastics
    • ISO/TC 122 Packaging
    • ISO/TC 170 Surgical instruments
    • ISO/TC 181 Safety of toys
    • ISO/TC 217 Cosmetics
    • ISO/TC 274 Light and lighting
    • ISO/TC 176 Quality management and quality assurance

    You can see the technical committees are forms specific to a field. The field experts are working on standardizing the best way of doing things.

    It helps manufacturers on managing processes, testing methods and quality specifications.

    It helps sellers and buyers speak the same language during the trade.

    It helps protect safety and provides convenience to all consumers.                            

    It provides solutions to global challenges—for example, standardization of freight containers, dimensions, specification, handling, test method and marking.

    Let’s watch the video on how ISO affect your daily life!

    ISO standards & You

    Most of us get to know ISO standards thru ISO 9001, Quality Management System. So am I 🙂

    The salesman probably told you that their company is ISO 9001 certified. Their quality is good and bla bla bla…

    Or you may see ISO 9001-certified words on the product’s packaging.

    Why ISO 9001? Because ISO 9001 is the most popular standard ISO.

    When the salesman told you that their company is ISO 9001 certified, quality is good. Whether you know or don’t know what ISO 9001 is, it seems to make you believe in your heart that the quality will be ok.

    What is ISO 9001 certified?

    In a simple explanation, ISO 9001-certified companies will have a quality policy and objectives. They train staff, understand customer needs and control supplier quality. They have SOP on daily operations to check product & service quality. And take improvement action on reject, defects and complaints.

    To obtain the ISO 9001 certificate, an independent certification body auditor will go to the company to audit. Checking they are doing it per ISO 9001 standard requirements. If not, the ISO 9001 certificate will be suspended or withdrawn.

    As customers, we will be more confident buying from ISO 9001-certified companies than those without ISO 9001 certification. We don’t know how a company without ISO 9001 certification manage their product quality. Did they train their staff? Got SOPs? Etc.

    But please take note.

    ISO 9001 is not a product certification. Companies with ISO 9001 certification don’t mean their product or service quality is guaranteed good with no defects.

    If you have been to IKEA, you probably see they use a machine to test the chair simulating how we sit on it—repeating more than a thousand times.

    To ensure the chair is solid and long-lasting as per international standards, the furniture company can test the ISO 7173 test method.  

    ISO 7173:1989, Furniture – Chairs and stools – Determination of strength and durability.

    Other than ISO management system standards like ISO 9001, there are many more ISO standards on the product test method and quality specification, method of measuring, method of calculation, etc.

    The laboratory test report will show whether the test result is a pass or fail per the particular ISO standard specification.

    Therefore you can see that ISO 9001 is not a product standard but a management system standard. The certification auditor checks how they are doing work but does not test the product like the above example of  ISO 7173.

    ISO standards & Business

    How do ISO standards help in Business?

    Generally, 4 aspects of ISO standards play a role in Business.

    1. Obtain Contract/ Tender/ License

    Some corporate will require their suppliers are ISO 9001 certified. To get a contract or qualify for tendering, the company must get ISO 9001 certification.

    In Malaysia, a company must be certified to ISO 9001 to get a CIDB (Construction Industry Development Board) class 7 contractor license.

    ISO 9001 certification provides confidence to your customer that you have a proper management system to consistently offer quality products and services so that the customer feels comfortable buying from you without visiting your office, warehouse, or factory.

    Other than ISO 9001, the management system. Some customers may ask for specific ISO testing standards on your product before signing the sale contract. 

    Learn more about ISO 9001 requirements

    2. Marketing Tools

    ISO 9001-certified companies can use ISO 9001 certification marks/logo print on their business card, letterhead, brochures and display on websites, TV advertisements and promotional videos.

    It demonstrates the company’s commitment to quality management for their customer and potential customers.

    3. Benchmark and Improve

    Most of the Business start small and grow bigger. The owner may be an expert in technical or marketing but not in quality management. Standardization working procedures may apply to ensure quality products and service from 2 staff to 20 staff or 200 employees.

    ISO 9001 Quality Management System standard is already 35 years old. More than 1 million companies in over 170 countries are certified to ISO 9001.

    ISO 9001 standard is an ideal management system for a business owner who thinks of improving quality management to be more structural, systematic, and organized.

    Get to learn more about ISO 9001 consultancy services in Malaysia.

    4. Prove Your Product is Safe or Durable (long-lasting)

    ISO standards also help businesses manage their processes, testing methods, quality specifications, and many more.

    Let’s say you came across challenges in

    • How to test your product?
    • How to check your product?
    • Are you wondering what the correct method is?
    • You are wondering how safe is safe?
    • Are you looking a product durability benchmark?

    You may get an answer or the best ideas from ISO standards that develop by experts. It will save you time, and it recognizes internationally.

    Final Thoughts

    ISO standards make our living more cleaner, safer and efficient.

    It standardizes the best way of doing things by experts internationally.

    As a consumer, it’s a confident indicator for us to make a wise choice.

    As a user, it’s made our work more confident.

    What role are you in ISO standards? Let us know by sharing your experience with us in the comments section below.

    Share this content with your friends and colleagues if you think it is useful. Sharing is Caring!

    About the Author
    SYChong is an ISO auditor and consultant here at NakTraining.com. She holds 20 years of experience in QAQC and implementing ISO 9001, ISO 14001, FSC CoC, and EICC/RBA in organizations.

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