What is ISO?

ISO standards are international standards set by the International Organization for Standardization. ISO standards cater for all types of businesses, regardless of their industry vertical, be it manufacturing or services.

Created in 1987 at the request of industry, ISO is concerned with Management Systems. The industry wanted a referential that enabled quick, easy and dependable recognition of system of quality management.

The current version of ISO 9001 was finalized in November 2008 and it focuses on best management practices in terms of quality. ISO provides a framework for implementing a process to continuously improve the business and customer satisfaction with said business and it products. ISO 9001 is the fourth version of the ISO 9001 with preceding versions having been set in 1987, 1994 and 2000. The next update due to be made to ISO 9001 will happen in 2015.

The ISO standard is centered on eight principles of management listed below:

Principle 1 - Customer focus; Given that organizations depend on their customers they should strive to should understand current and future customer needs, meet these requirements and strive to exceed customer expectations.

Principle 2 - Leadership; It is leaders who establish the purpose and direction of an organization and it is leaders who should create and maintain the internal environment in which people can become fully involved in achieving the organization's objectives

Principle 3 - Involvement of people; Organizations are 'people powered'. People's full involvement guarantees that individuals' abilities are fully used to benefit the organisation or company.

Principle 4 - Process approach; The process approach decrees that results are achieved in a more efficient manner when activities and their related resources are managed as part of a process.

Principle 5 - System approach to management; Management needs to be approached as a system in that pinpointing and understanding which process are interrelated increases an organization's efficiency and effectiveness in achieving objectives.

Principle 6 - Continual improvement; A permanent objective of the organisation should be the continual improvement of the organisation's overall performance.

Principle 7 - Factual approach to decision making; Decisions are made effective when ample clear and correct information is made available to the decision makers.

Principle 8 - Mutually beneficial supplier relationships; The organization and its suppliers depend upon each other and a mutually beneficial relationship creates value for both parties.

Using ISO 9001:2008 helps to ensure that customers get consistent, good quality products and services, which in turn brings about many business benefits.

Step has aided clients that work in injection moulding, aluminium manufacturing and other 'heavy industry' firms, as well as others that work in accountancy, software development and IT support in becoming ISO certified.

While the ISO standard is not required by law and is a voluntary process of the company (or is requested by customer) it does indeed recognize the conformity of an organization's working methods with a globally recognised certification. All ISO certifications are valid for 3 years and renewable with an audit.

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