Why standards matter
Who ISO is
What ISO's name means
How it all started
What 'international standardization' means
How ISO standards benefit society
The hallmarks of the ISO brand
ISO and world trade
ISO and developing countries
How to recognize an ISO standard
The big, wide world of ISO standards
What makes ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 so special
What makes conformity assessment so important

Where to find information on standards
Who can join ISO
How the ISO system is managed
How the ISO system is financed
How ISO decides what standards to develop
Who develops ISO standards
How ISO standards are developed
When speed is of the essence
ISO's international partners
ISO's regional partners
Specialist liaisons
Special products

Why standards matter
What if standards did not exist?
If there were no standards, we would soon notice. Standards make an enormous
contribution to most aspects of our lives - although very often, that contribution is
invisible. It is when there is an absence of standards that their importance is brought
home. For example, as purchasers or users of products, we soon notice when they turn
out to be of poor quality, do not fit, are incompatible with equipment we already have,
are unreliable or dangerous. When products meet our expectations, we tend to take this
for granted. We are usually unaware of the role played by standards in raising levels of
quality, safety, reliability, efficiency and interchangeability - as well as in providing such
benefits at an economical cost.
ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is the world's largest developer of
standards. Although ISO's principal activity is the development of technical standards,
ISO standards also have important economic and social repercussions. ISO standards
make a positive difference, not just to engineers and manufacturers for whom they solve
basic problems in production and distribution, but to society as a whole.
The International Standards which ISO develops are very useful. They are useful to
industrial and business organizations of all types, to governments and other regulatory
bodies, to trade officials, to conformity assessment professionals, to suppliers and
customers of products and services in both public and private sectors, and, ultimately, to
people in general in their roles as consumers and end users.
ISO standards contribute to making the development, manufacturing and supply of
products and services more efficient, safer and cleaner. They make trade between
countries easier and fairer. They provide governments with a technical base for health,
safety and environmental legislation. They aid in transferring technology to developing
countries. ISO standards also serve to safeguard consumers, and users in general, of
products and services - as well as to make their lives simpler.

When things go well - for example, when systems, machinery and devices work well and
safely - then often it is because they conform to standards. And the organization
responsible for many thousands of the standards which benefit society worldwide is ISO.

Who ISO is
ISO is a network of the national standards institutes of 146 countries, on the basis of one
member per country, with a Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, that coordinates
the system.
ISO is a non-governmental organization: its members are not, as
is the case in the United Nations system, delegations of national
governments. Nevertheless, ISO occupies a special position
between the public and private sectors. This is because, on the
one hand, many of its member institutes are part of the
governmental structure of their countries, or are mandated by
their government. On the other hand, other members have their
roots uniquely in the private sector, having been set up by
national partnerships of industry associations.
Therefore, ISO is able to act as a bridging organization in which a
consensus can be reached on solutions that meet both the requirements of business and
the broader needs of society, such as the needs of stakeholder groups like consumers
and users.

What ISO's name means
Because "International Organization for Standardization" would have different
abbreviations in different languages ("IOS" in English, "OIN" in French for Organisation
internationale de normalisation), it was decided at the outset to use a word derived from
the Greek isos, meaning "equal". Therefore, whatever the country, whatever the
language, the short form of the organization's name is always ISO.

How it all started
International standardization began in the electrotechnical field: the International
Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) was established in 1906. Pioneering work in other
fields was carried out by the International Federation of the National Standardizing
Associations (ISA), which was set up in 1926. The emphasis within ISA was laid heavily
on mechanical engineering. ISA's activities came to an end in 1942.

International Standards that represent an international consensus on the state of the art constitute an important source of technological know- . safety and environmental legislation. and they also benefit from the effects of competition among suppliers. in turn. For developing countries. In this way. International Standards provide a reference framework. such as consumers.Recollections from ISO's first fifty year for a historical perspective of ISO. International Standards are the technical means by which political trade agreements can be put into practice. For trade officials negotiating the emergence of regional and global markets. a state of industry-wide standardization can be said to exist. delegates from 25 countries met in London and decided to create a new international organization.which facilitates trade and the transfer of technology. between suppliers and their customers . What 'international standardization' means When the large majority of products or services in a particular business or industry sector conform to International Standards. or a common technological language.In 1946. the worldwide compatibility of technology which is achieved when products and services are based on International Standards brings them an increasingly wide choice of offers. For customers. means that businesses using International Standards are increasingly free to compete on many more markets around the world. of which the object would be "to facilitate the international coordination and unification of industrial standards". ISO. International Standards create "a level playing field" for all competitors on those markets. in testing and analysis. the widespread adoption of International Standards means that suppliers can base the development of their products and services on specifications that have wide acceptance in their sectors. The existence of divergent national or regional standards can create technical barriers to trade. in the manufacture and supply of products. This is achieved through consensus agreements between national delegations representing all the economic stakeholders concerned . Read Friendship among equals . officially began operations on 23 February 1947. They agree on specifications and criteria to be applied consistently in the classification of materials.suppliers. The new organization. For governments. government regulators and other interest groups. This. International Standards provide the technological and scientific bases underpinning health. users. in terminology and in the provision of services. even when there is political agreement to do away with restrictive import quotas and the like. How ISO standards benefit society For businesses.

Consensus. By defining the characteristics that products and services will be expected to meet on export markets. and are based on consensus among the interested parties. As a non-governmental organization. The hallmarks of the ISO brand Equal footing Every participating ISO member institution has the right to take part in the development of any standard which it judges to be important to its country's economy.has been adopted in some countries as part of their regulatory framework. International Standards give developing countries a basis for making the right decisions when investing their scarce resources and thus avoid squandering them. as has happened in the case of ISO 9000 quality management systems. For consumers. For the planet we inhabit. Consensus Although ISO standards are voluntary.mainly those concerned with health. conformity of products and services to International Standards provides assurance about their quality. consumer organizations. machinery and tools we use are safe. ISO itself does not regulate or legislate. However. such as representatives of government International Standards on air. safety and reliability. and which subsequently put them to use. can contribute to efforts to preserve the environment. safety or the environment . they may become a market requirement. The work is carried out by experts on loan from the industrial. each participating member in ISO has one vote. No matter what the size or strength of that economy. academia and testing laboratories. the fact that they are developed in response to market demand. ISO's activities are thus carried out in a democratic framework where each country is on an equal footing to influence the direction of ISO's work at the strategic level. ISO has no legal authority to enforce their implementation. A certain percentage of ISO standards . These experts may be joined by others with relevant knowledge. ensures widespread applicability of the standards. Voluntary ISO standards are voluntary. like technology. Market-driven ISO develops only those standards for which there is a market requirement. or is referred to in legislation for which it serves as the technical basis. International Standards can contribute to the quality of life in general by ensuring that the transport. water and soil quality. although ISO standards are voluntary. For everyone. and on emissions of gases and radiation. evolves and ISO takes account both of evolving technology and of evolving interests by requiring a review . or of dimensions of freight containers and bank cards. as well as the technical content of its individual standards. Such adoptions are sovereign decisions by the regulatory authorities or governments of the countries concerned. technical and business sectors which have asked for the standards.

IEC and ITU. Adoption and Application of Standards. as agreed by an international cross-section of experts in the field. as the three principal organizations in international standardization. stand to gain from this wealth of knowledge. working groups etc. In addition to this general benefit of ISO standards. the framework. ISO also has a policy . The political agreements reached within the framework of the WTO require underpinning by technical agreements. the expertise and the experience to provide this technical support for the growth of the global market. For them. Worldwide ISO standards are technical agreements which provide the framework for compatible technology worldwide.of its standards at least every five years to decide whether they should be maintained. The TBT Agreement recognizes the important contribution that International Standards and conformity assessment systems can make to improving efficiency of production and facilitating international trade. there are more than 2 850 ISO technical groups (technical committees. ISO periodically publishes a directory of standardizing bodies that have accepted the WTO TBT Standards Code.) in which some 30 000 experts participate annually to develop ISO standards. Therefore. subcommittees. sponsorships/fellowships and publications. ISO standards are an important means both of acquiring technological know-how that is backed by international consensus as the state of the art. with their scarce resources. the Code states that standardizing bodies should use them as a basis for standards they develop.together with IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) and ITU (International Telecommunication Union) . Standardizing bodies having accepted the Code must publish their work programmes and also notify the existence of their work programmes to the ISO/IEC Information Centre. Developing countries in particular. In all. Developing technical consensus on this international scale is a major operation. ISO. The Code requires that standardizing bodies that have accepted its terms notify this fact to the ISO/IEC Information Centre located at the ISO Central Secretariat. updated or withdrawn. where International Standards exist or their completion is imminent. ISO and world trade ISO . and of raising their capability to export and compete on global markets. ISO standards retain their position as the state of the art. have the complementary scopes. ISO has a specific programme for developing countries which consists of training seminars. ISO and developing countries ISO standards represent a reservoir of technology. The WTO's Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) includes the Code of Good Practice for the Preparation. On behalf of the WTO.has built a strategic partnership with the WTO (World Trade Organization) with the common goal of promoting a free and fair global trading system. In this way.

It carries the ISO logo and the designation. it is published in A4 format . Without the standardized dimensions of freight containers. Standards establishing an international consensus on terminology make technology transfer easier and can represent an important stage in the advancement of new technologies. "International Standard". How to recognize an ISO standard An ISO standard can be anything from a four-page document to one several hundred pages' long and. The big. will increasingly be available in electronic form. to the newest information technology developments. Agreement on a sufficient number of variations of a product to meet most current applications allows economies of scale with cost benefits for both producers and consumers. international trade would be slower and more expensive. ISO's work programme ranges from standards for traditional activities. such as agriculture and construction. life would be more complicated. public transport and buildings because the dimensions of wheel-chairs and entrances are not standardized. Standardization of screw threads helps to keep chairs. Standardized symbols provide danger warnings and information across linguistic frontiers. ISO published more than 13 700 International Standards. children's bicycles and aircraft together and solves the repair and maintenance problems caused by a lack of standardization that were once a major headache for manufacturers and product users. such as the digital coding of audiovisual signals for multimedia applications. Without the standardization of telephone and banking cards. An example is the standardization of paper sizes. for example. wide world of ISO standards Between 1947 and the present day. DEVCO. In most cases. through mechanical engineering. A lack of standardization may even affect the quality of life itself: for the disabled. . to medical devices.which is itself one of the ISO standard paper sizes. when they are barred access to consumer products.committee on developing country matters. in the future. Consensus on grades of various materials give a common reference for suppliers and clients in business dealings. Standardization of performance or safety requirements of diverse equipment makes sure that users' needs are met while allowing individual manufacturers the freedom to design their own solution on how to meet those needs. with a membership of nearly 100 standards institutes from both industrialized and developing countries.

unscientific . ISO 9000 has become an international reference for quality requirements in business to business dealings.. Without the international agreement contained in ISO standards on quantities and units. shopping and trade would be haphazard. What makes ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 so special The ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 families are among ISO's most widely known and successful standards ever. "Management system" refers to what the organization does to manage its processes. ISO 14000 environmental management systems are helping organizations of all types to improve their environmental performance at the same time as making a positive impact on business results. Standardized documents speed up the transit of goods. ISO 9000 is concerned with "quality management". "Generic" means that the same standards can be applied to any organization. This means what the organization does to enhance customer satisfaction by meeting customer and applicable regulatory requirements and continually to improve its performance in this regard.. Safety standards for machinery protect people at work. "Generic" also signifies that no matter what the organization is or does.including whether its "product" is actually a service . The vast majority of ISO standards are highly specific to a particular product. large or small. at play. or process. or identify sensitive or dangerous cargoes that may be handled by people speaking different any sector of activity. at sea. if not more. ISO 14000 is primarily concerned with "environmental management".Standardized protocols allow computers from different vendors to "talk" to each other. science would be .whether by noise. However. and whether it is a business enterprise. More than half a million organizations in more 60 countries are implementing ISO 9000 which provides a framework for quality management throughout the processes of producing and delivering products and services for the customer. and at the dentist's. or activities. or plays an important part in controlling pollution . and ISO 14000 looks set to achieve at least as much. a public administration. if it wants to establish a quality management system or an environmental management system. Standardization of connections and interfaces of all types ensures the compatibility of equipment of diverse origins and the interoperability of different technologies. vibration or emissions. then such a system has a number of essential features which are spelled out in the relevant standards of the ISO 9000 or ISO 14000 families. in helping organizations to meet their environmental challenges. or a government department. This means what the . Agreement on test methods allows meaningful comparisons of products. material.and technological development would be handicapped. whatever its product . the standards that have earned the ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 families a worldwide reputation are known as "generic management system standards".

many products require testing for conformance with specifications or compliance with safety. the ISO Information Network. The site also provides access to the World Standards Services Network (WSSN) which is a network of publicly accessible Web servers of standards organizations around the world. The voluntary criteria contained in these guides and standards represent an international consensus on what constitutes best practice. the ISONET and WTO enquiry points are one and the same. In fact. ISO develops ISO/IEC guides and standards to be used by organizations which carry out conformity assessment activities. Even simpler products may require supporting technical documentation that includes test data. can be a heavy task. services. Where to find information on standards ISO's entire portfolio of standards is listed in the ISO Catalogue which can be accessed online. regional and national standardization bodies. "conformity assessment" means checking that products. Today. or other regulations before they can be put on many markets. systems or people measure up to the specifications of a relevant standard. Over the years. However. and also to other international and regional organizations which develop standards in their specialized subject area. Finding information about these. What makes conformity assessment so important At its simplest. ISO itself does not carry out conformity assessment. and continually to improve its environmental performance. materials. The World Trade Organization's Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (WTO/TBT) calls upon its signatory countries to establish a national enquiry point to answer questions on these same areas in relation to that country. technical regulations. It contains links to international. can ease the problem. ISO has developed many of the standards against which products are assessed for conformity. This is a worldwide network of national standards information centres which have cooperatively developed a system to provide rapid access to information about standards. In many countries. and testing and conformity assessment activities in operation around the world. With so much trade taking place across borders. or about related conformity assessment activities. as well as the standardized test methods that allow the meaningful comparison of test results so necessary for international trade. . Their use contributes to the consistency and coherence of conformity assessment worldwide and so facilitates trade across borders. there are several hundred thousand standards and technical regulations in the world containing special requirements for a particular country or region.organization does to minimize harmful effects on the environment caused by its activities. conformity assessment has become an important component of the world economy. in addition to their principal activity. in partnership with IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission). ISONET.

How the ISO system is financed ISO's national members pay subscriptions that meet the operational cost of ISO's Central Secretariat. who meet for an annual General Assembly. How the ISO system is managed All strategic decisions are referred to the ISO members. drawn from the membership as a whole.Who can join ISO Membership of ISO is open to national standards institutes or similar organizations most representative of standardization in their country (one member in each country). International organizations and associations. The Secretary-General reports to a President who is a prominent figure in standardization or in business. both have a range of opportunities for taking part in ISO's work. ISO Council meets three times a year and its membership is rotated to ensure that it is representative of ISO's membership. whatever the size or strength of the economy of the country concerned. They do not vote. or in contributing to the development of standards through the ISO member in their country. which resembles the board of directors of a business organization. ISO also has two categories of membership for countries with fewer resources. elected for two years. each have one vote. Individuals may be selected by member institutes to serve on national delegations participating in ISO technical committees. Operations are managed by a Secretary-General. The Secretary-General is based at ISO Central Secretariat in Geneva. Correspondent members do not take an active part in the technical work. They pay reduced membership fees. Another source of revenue is the sale of standards. Although individuals or enterprises are not eligible for membership. Although such members do not have a vote. Switzerland. but can participate in the debates and the development of consensus. and publishes the output. The proposals put to the members are developed by the ISO Council. known as "Member bodies". which is a permanent appointment. but are entitled to be kept fully informed about the work of interest to them. can apply for liaison status to a technical committee. with a compact staff which provides administrative and technical support to the ISO members. "Correspondent members" are usually organizations in countries which do not yet have a fully developed national standards activity. The subscription paid by each member is in proportion to the country's Gross National Product and trade figures. "Subscriber members" are institutes from countries with very small economies that nevertheless wish to maintain contact with international standardization. they can remain up to date on standardization developments. or may provide their input during the process of developing a national consensus for presentation by the delegation. the operations of ISO Central Secretariat represent only about one fifth of the . Full members. both non-governmental and representing industry sectors. coordinates the decentralized standards' development programme. In addition. However.

COPOLCO (consumer policy). The experts participate as national delegations. ISO has three general policy development committees with a more horizontal approach. the work item is assigned to an existing technical committee. but of other stakeholders too. Their job is to provide strategic guidance for the standards' development work on crosssectoral aspects. The latter then proposes the new work item to ISO as a whole. in effect. If accepted. chosen by the ISO national member institute for the country concerned. In addition. ISO only launches the development of new standards for which there is clearly a market requirement. These committees help to ensure that the specific technical work is aligned with broader market and stakeholder group interests. How ISO standards are developed . and so on. In order to use resources most efficiently. Who develops ISO standards ISO standards are developed by technical committees comprising experts on loan from the industrial. These delegations are required to represent not just the views of the organizations in which their participating experts work. subsidizing the technical work by paying the travel costs of the experts and allowing them time to work on their ISO assignments. Proposals may also be made to set up technical committees to cover new scopes of technological activity. it is the sectors which need the standards that are at the origin of their development. environmentalists. According to ISO rules. and which subsequently put them to use. The main costs are borne by the member bodies which manage the specific standards' development projects and the business organizations which loan experts to participate in the technical work. national consensus position to the technical committee. These organizations are.cost of the system's operation. These experts may be joined by others with relevant knowledge. the member institute is expected to take account of the views of the range of parties interested in the standard under development and to present a consolidated. The focus of the technical committees is necessarily specialized and specific. such as representatives of government agencies. and DEVCO (developing country matters). testing laboratories. What happens is that the need for a standard is felt by an industry or business sector which communicates the requirement to one of ISO's national members. They are: CASCO (conformity assessment). consumer associations. How ISO decides what standards to develop Working through the ISO system. technical and business sectors which have asked for the standards.

When speed is of the essence ISO standards are developed according to strict rules to ensure that they are transparent and fair. This is then circulated as a Draft International Standard (DIS) to ISO's membership as a whole for comment and balloting. to meet such needs. ISO's international partners ISO collaborates with its partners in international standardization. the experts continue the standards' development work by correspondence. Many members have public review procedures for making draft standards known and available to interested parties and to the general public. their contacts are made by electronic means and some ISO technical bodies have already gone over entirely to electronic working. Like ISO. If the voting is in favour. Therefore. whose scope of activities complements ISO's. Technical Report (TR).The national delegations of experts of a technical committee meet to discuss. while the ITU is part of the United Nations Organization and its members are governments. it may be more important to agree on a technical specification and publish it quickly. Every working day of the year. allowing publication at an intermediate stage of development before full consensus: Publicly Available Specification (PAS). Increasingly. the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission). debate and argue until they reach consensus on a draft agreement. or different categories of specifications. In turn. ISO has developed a new range of "deliverables". an average of eleven ISO meetings are taking place somewhere in the world. the IEC is a non-governmental body. the document is then published as an International Standard. If that vote is positive. The reverse side of the coin is that it can take time to develop consensus among the interested parties and for the resulting agreement to go through the public review process in the ISO member countries. The ISO members then take account of any feedback they receive in formulating their position on the draft standard. ISO and the IEC cooperate on a joint basis with the ITU (International Telecommunication Union). particularly those working in fast-changing technology sectors. International Workshop Agreement (IWA). In between meetings.The three organizations have a strong collaboration on standardization in the fields of information technology and telecommunications. before going through the various checks and balances needed to win the status of a full International Standard. Technical Specification (TS). the document. For some users of standards. with eventual modifications. is circulated to the ISO members as a Final Draft International Standard (FDIS). ISO's regional partners . which speeds up the development of standards and reduces travel costs.

and ISO 14000 is well on the way to achieving as much. and applicable regulatory requirements. while aiming to enhance customer satisfaction. ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 . standards compendia . The ISO 9000 family is primarily concerned with "quality management". if not more. Latin America. ISO develops guideline documents. ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 standards are implemented by some 610 000 organizations in 160 countries. and the South-East Asia nations. an example is the World Health Organization. ISO also publishes two magazines: the monthly ISO Focus which presents an overview of ISO's activities. Each of these bodies works in a specific area. Europe. published six times a year.Many of ISO's members also belong to regional standardization organizations. ISO has recognized regional standards organizations representing Africa. the Pacific area. the Arab countries. and achieve continual improvement of its performance in pursuit of these objectives. ISO 9000 has become an international reference for quality management requirements in business-to-business dealings. and these other specialized bodies account for the rest. This makes it easier for ISO to build bridges with regional standardization activities throughout the world. These recognitions are based on a commitment by the regional bodies to adopt ISO standards whenever possible without change .handbooks and a whole range of standards-related publications. Special products In addition to International Standards and the "new deliverables". Specialist liaisons ISO also liaises with some 550 international and regional organizations interested in aspects of ISO's standardization work. the area covered by the Commonwealth of Independent States. and ISO Management Systems . This means what the organization does to fulfil: - the customer's quality requirements. usually with a United Nations paper products and CD-ROM's . ISO and the IEC together produce about 85% of all International brief The ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 families are among ISO's most widely known standards ever.The International Review of ISO 9000 and ISO 14000. . in enabling organizations to meet their environmental the national standards of their members and to initiate the development of divergent standards only if no appropriate ISO standards are available for direct adoption. These include the 28 or so international standards-developing bodies outside the ISO/IEC system. manuals for developing countries.

we shall tell you how they fit into "the big picture" of ISO's work.The ISO 14000 family is primarily concerned with "environmental management".in any sector of activity.   . "registration". If that phrase has sounded rather indigestible in the past.including whether its "product" is actually a service. the standards that have earned the ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 families a worldwide reputation are known as "generic management system standards". our clear explanation will enable you to take it at a single bite in future. material.or activities .  "Management system" refers to the organization's structure for managing its processes . "Generic" also signifies that no matter what the organization's scope of activity. You'll know in future what is meant when you hear terms like "certification".that transform inputs of resources into a product or service which meet the organization's objectives. . and .minimize harmful effects on the environment caused by its activities. then such a system has a number of essential features for which the relevant standards of the ISO 9000 or ISO 14000 families provide the requirements. The Magical Demystifying Tour of ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 To give you a handle on the ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 phenomena. such as satisfying the customer's quality requirements. a public administration. large or small. complying to regulations. "accreditation". or a government department. The vast majority of ISO standards are highly specific to a particular product. However. we'll clear up some misunderstandings about what ISO does and does not do in relation to ISO 9000 and ISO 14000. During the any organization.  At the first stop. if it wants to establish a quality management system or an environmental management system. whatever its product . and to . or meeting environmental objectives.achieve continual improvement of its environmental performance. or process. we invite you on a grand tour.  "Generic" means that the same standards can be applied: .  We shall be visiting "generic management system standards". This means what the organization does to: .whether it is a business enterprise. We'll point you in the right direction for information on how to publicize your ISO 9001 or ISO 14001 certification.

There. With the exception of ISO 9000 and ISO 14000. nor see companies proudly advertising that they implement them. or a government department. So. you're absolutely right! It also explains why ISO standards were. or process. if the first you heard of us was in connection with ISO 9000 or ISO 14000. before ISO 9000 and ISO 14000. or join us for each visit in any sector of activity. In the beginning ISO has been developing voluntary technical standards over almost all sectors of business. then you are probably asking yourself. how they work and what benefits you may achieve if your business implements them. "How come I have never heard of ISO before?" The answer is that if you are asking yourself the question. came ISO 9000. Generic management system standards The vast majority of ISO standards are highly specific to a particular product. then you are probably not an engineer. If that sounds like engineering talk. our guided tour will branch into two parts: one visiting ISO 9000 and the other ISO 14000.but not too much . because if you were. a public administration. guidelines.on what the respective standards are all about. ISO standards for such seemingly humble items as bolts. These are very different from the majority of ISO's highly specific standards. in 1987. and whether it is a business enterprise. products. followed nearly 10 years later by ISO 14000. why you might want to use them. industry and technology since 1947.After this. which have brought ISO to the attention of a much wider business community. the vast majority of ISO standards are highly specific. nuts. pins and rivets literally help stop much in the world around us from falling apart but you're not likely to come across references to them in the business and economic press. or definitions of characteristics to ensure that materials. whatever its product . both ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 are known as generic management system standards. Generic means that the same standards can be applied to any organization. . They are documented agreements containing technical specifications or other precise criteria to be used consistently as rules. You can go directly to one of the stops on the tour (above).including whether its "product" is actually a service . principally of concern to engineers and other technical specialists concerned by the precise scope addressed in the standard. large or small. Then. we shall get into more detail . you would almost certainly have come into contact with at least some of ISO's technical standards. material. screws. To take just one example. However. processes and services are fit for their purpose.

forms or records. and "our way" is probably not written down. Companies in such fields as aerospace.although they may have been called by some other name. complying to regulations. how. such as auditing (the process of checking that the management system conforms to the standard). Large organizations.Management system refers to what the organization does to manage its processes. so that time. why and where. The larger the organization. To be really efficient and effective. Both families consist of standards and guidelines relating to management systems. such as the following:    satisfying the customer's quality requirements. defence. or meeting environmental objectives. as such. but all in the head of the manager or owner head. A management system which follows the model . the organization can manage its way of doing things by systemizing it. This model incorporates the features on which experts in the field have reached a consensus as representing the international state of the art. when. money and other resources are utilized efficiently. These help ensure that everyone is not just "doing his or her own thing". In a very small organization. or health care devices have been operating management systems for years. Both "ISO 9000" and "ISO 14000" are actually families of standards which are referred to under these generic titles for convenience. and the more people involved. ISO 9000 is primarily concerned with "quality management". built on a firm foundation of state-of-the-art practices. Management system standards provide the organization with a model to follow in setting up and operating the management system.or "conforms to the standard" . In the everyday context. and related supporting standards on terminology and specific tools. like "beauty". in the ISO . the more the likelihood that there are some written procedures. The ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 families of management system standards now make these successful practices available for all organizations when it comes to meeting their objectives concerning quality and the environment. everyone may have his or her idea of what "quality" is. there is probably no "system". just "our way of doing things". But. and that the organization goes about its business in an orderly and structured way. or activities in order that the products or services that it produces meet the objectives it has set itself. instructions. This ensures that nothing important is left out and that everyone is clear about who is responsible for doing what. could not function well without management systems . or ones with complicated processes. ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 in plain language This section tells you briefly what ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 are and what they are not.

registration and accreditation Three words that will certainly crop up on your road to ISO 9000 or ISO 14000 are "certification". "Quality management" means what the organization does to ensure that its products or services satisfy the customer's quality requirements and comply with any regulations applicable to those products or services. and not products . Both ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 concern the way an organization goes about its work. if it wants to establish a quality management system or an environmental management system. then such a system has a number of essential features which are spelled out in the relevant ISO 9000 or ISO 14000 standards. In addition. for example. No matter what the organization is or does. Nevertheless. The management system standards in these families state requirements for what the organization must do to manage processes influencing quality (ISO 9000) or the processes influencing the impact of the organization's activities on the environment (ISO 14000). In both cases. In the case of ISO 9000. Just what exactly do they mean? Let's first take the first two. the philosophy is that management system requirements are generic. respectively. going to affect whether or not everything has been done to ensure that the product satisfies the customer's quality requirements. or by depleting natural resources. both ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 require organizations that implement them to improve their performance continually in. the standardized definition of quality refers to all those features of a product (or service) which are required by the customer. quality and environmental management. not directly. and not directly the result of this work. this means what the organization does to minimize harmful effects on the environment caused by its activities. According to the standardized definitions*. the efficient and effective management of processes is going to affect whether or not everything has been done to ensure a product will have the least harmful impact on the environment. the way in which the organization manages its processes is obviously going to affect its final product. Certification. In the case of ISO 14000. they both concern least. In other words. ISO 14000 is primarily concerned with "environmental management".9000 context. In the context of ISO 9000 or ISO 14000. "certification" refers to the issuing of written . the efficient and effective management of processes is. they are not quite the same thing. In plain language. at any stage in its life cycle. However. "registration" and "accreditation". neither ISO 9000 nor ISO 14000 are product standards. either by pollution.

without incurring the investment required in a certification accreditation body .that a certification body is competent to carry out ISO 9000 or ISO 14000 certification in specified business sectors. or market requirement. accreditation refers to the formal recognition by a specialized body . but inaccurate to state that it has been "accredited" (unless your organization is a certification/registration body). it is okay to state that your organization has been "certified" or "registered" (if.assurance (the certificate) by an independent. .it is part of a risk management programme. although registration (from which "registrar" as an alternative to registration/certification body) is often preferred in North America. you can implement and benefit from an ISO 9000 or ISO 14000 system without having it certified. and the two are also used interchangeably. Certification is not compulsory You can implement ISO 9000 or ISO 14000 without seeking to have your management system audited and certified as conforming to the standards by an independent. indeed. Deciding to have an independent audit of your system to confirm that it conforms to the standard is a decision to be taken on business grounds . "Registration" means that the auditing body then records the certification in its client register. Therefore. For practical purposes. accreditation is like certification of the certification body. Your organization can implement them solely for the internal benefits they bring in increased effectiveness and efficiency of your meets customer preferences. In simple terms. Certificates issued by accredited certification bodies . The organization's management system has therefore been both certified and registered.may be perceived on the market as having increased credibility.and known as "accredited certificates" . What?!? That's right! We are so used to hearing about ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 certification that it's easy to assume you can't have the standard without certification . it has!). On the contrary. regulatory. In the ISO 9000 or ISO 14000 context. ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 are voluntary standards. or if you think . because it means something different.if for example: . . the difference between the two terms is not significant and both are acceptable for general use. external body that has audited an organization's management system and verified that it conforms to the requirements specified in the standard. using "accreditation" as an interchangeable alternative for certification or registration is a mistake. . external certification body. Like all ISO standards. "Certification" seems to be the term most widely used will motivate your staff by setting a clear goal for the development of the management system. in the ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 contexts.but it's a is a contractual.

If your organization has decided it to go for certification. . if so. means that a certification body has been officially approved as competent to carry out certification in specified business sectors by a national accreditation body. In most countries. That said. . accreditation is a choice.evaluate several certification bodies.following the publication of the ISO 9000:2000 series. in order to be able to demonstrate an independent confirmation of their competence. how does it go about choosing a certification body? Choosing a certification body When choosing a certification body to carry out ISO 9001 or ISO 14001 certification. not an obligation and the fact that a certification body is not accredited does not. by itself.if it is a contractual or regulatory requirement . Certification of your management system is not an ISO 9001 or ISO 14001 requirement. For example. by whom.  Another point to clarify is whether or not the certification body has been accredited and. Accreditation.or if you think it will motivate your staff by setting a clear goal for the development of your management system.bear in mind that the cheapest might prove to be the most costly if its auditing is below standard. or if its certificate is not recognized by your customers . establish whether the certification body has integrated the evolution in the focus of the standards from conformity to performance. a certification body operating nationally in a highly specific sector might enjoy such a good reputation that it does not feel there is any advantage for it to go to the expense of being accredited.if it is a market requirement or to meet customer preferences . these are the aspects the organization needs to take into account. The best reason for wanting to implement the standards is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of company operations.establish whether the certification body has auditors with experience in your business sector . many certification bodies choose to seek accreditation. even when it is not compulsory.  Criteria to consider include: .  The first point out that an organization can implement ISO 9001 or ISO 14001 without seeking certification. mean that it is not a reputable organization.if it falls within the context of a risk management programme . in simple terms.  Deciding to have an independent audit of your system to confirm that it conforms to ISO 9001 or ISO 14001 is a decision to be taken on business grounds: for example .

either on behalf of their respective a matter between suppliers and their customers in the private sector. there exist many testing laboratories and certification bodies which offer independent (also known as "third party") conformity assessment services to provide confirmation that products (including hardware. The voluntary criteria contained in these standards and guides represent an international consensus on what constitutes good practice. you were obliged to seek certification. ISO's Committee on conformity assessment.Consult the ISO Directory of ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 accreditation and certification bodies. However. services or systems measure up to ISO standards. the aim of which is to create confidence between suppliers and their clients. develops standards and guidelines covering various aspects of conformity assessment activities and the organizations that perform them. The auditing and certification of management systems is carried out independently of ISO by more than 750 certification bodies active around the world. ISO does not carry out ISO 9001:2000 or ISO 14001 certification ISO is responsible for developing. or by other organizations. ISO itself has no authority to control conformity assessment activities. In addition. Such organizations may perform these services under a mandate to a regulatory authority. and of regulatory bodies when ISO standards have been incorporated into public legislation. or as a business this process is known . In some countries. software and processed materials). ISO/CASCO. ISO itself does not carry out assessments or audits to check that its standards are being implemented by users in conformity with the requirements of the standards. the national standards institutes that make up ISO's membership carry out conformity assessment. Conformity assessment . . maintaining and publishing the ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 families of standards but ISO does not itself audit or assess the management systems of organizations to verify that they have been implemented in conformity with the requirements of the standards. The ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 certificates issued by certification bodies are issued under their own responsibility and not under ISO's name. ISO does not issue ISO 9001:2000 or ISO 14001 certificates. Their use contributes to the consistency and coherence of conformity assessment worldwide and so facilitates trade across borders. whether these are business activities by its members. ISO has no authority to control their activities. then you may also be surprised to learn that ISO does not carry out ISO 9001 or ISO 14001 certification. If you were under the mistaken impression that if you implemented ISO 9000 or ISO 14000. or as a commercial activity.

or certifier of management systems. In addition. Unless authorized by ISO. These activities are not business functions of ISO. Allowing the ISO logo to be used would give the false impression that ISO carries out certification activities. ISO will take whatever actions it considers necessary to prevent the misuse of its logo. registrar. assessor. ISO will not allow its logo to be used in connection with the certification of management systems. ISO develops International Standards but does not operate any schemes for assessing conformity with them. products. advertisements and company letterheads. or has approved or authorized the organization using its logo.Now you're clear that ISO does not carry out ISO 9001:2000 or ISO 14001 certification. services. use of its logo is prohibited. nor does it endorse any such activities performed by other parties. on Web sites. There is only the ISO logo itself. you may not use ISO's logo. ISO's logo is not for use Upon certification. Examples of unacceptable use of the ISO logo would include use on products. in marketing materials. No such ISO logo exists. . ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certificates are issued independently of ISO by more than 750 certification bodies worldwide. although the organization does develop voluntary standards and guidelines to encourage good practice by these certification bodies. then you shouldn't be surprised to learn that ISO's logo is not for use in connection with certification. many organizations turn to ISO to request use of "the ISO 9000 logo". ISO has no "ISO 9000 logo". even when these certifications attest conformity to ISO 9001 or ISO 14001. ISO is not an auditor. which is copyrighted. materials or personnel. which is a registered trademark.