ISO 9001 Certification – What Does It Mean?

What does it mean to be ISO 9001 certified?  It actually means several things to your organization’s quality assurance program and quality reputation. 

The Official Meaning of ISO 9001 Certification

First, lets review what ISO 9001 Certification means in an official sense.  It means that a Certification Body, often called a Registrar, accredited by the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) has closely audited the ISO 9001 Quality Management System (QMS) and found that it meets all the requirements of the ISO 9001:2008 QMS Standard.

This means the organization is committed to total quality management; a customer focus, a continually improving process approach implemented throughout the organization, critical processes and their interactions are understood and documented, and a strong management commitment to all these facets of the ISO 9001 QMS.  Plus, all of these quality management system facets are verified by a independent third party who understands ISO 9001 QMS as well as the industry in which the organization operates.

Essentially, an official Registrar who can grant certification verifies the organization’s ISO 9001 QMS, and the ISO 9001 QMS is audited on an ongoing basis – typically every three years.
Certification Means an ISO 9001 Certificate

Once a Registrar has audited an ISO 9001 Quality Management System and found that it is in compliance with the ISO 9001 QMS Standard, the organization receives written assurance if its QMS conformance and it registers the organization’s compliance by recording the certification.  Therefore the terms Certified and Registered are often used interchangeably, and they essentially mean the same thing.  So don’t let the use of different terms confuse you.

The certificate from an ANAB accredited Registrar will have the ANAB and International Accreditation Forum (IAF) logos.  Before hiring an ISO 9001 auditor, verify that they are accredited by ANAB (in the U.S. or the appropriate accreditation body in your country or region), and that your certificate will have the ANAB and IAF logos.  It is not unheard of for unscrupulous auditors to present themselves as ISO 9001 certification auditors, but they do not have the proper accreditations.  You are not ISO 9001 Certified unless an ANAB accredited registrar conducts the certification audit.
Communicate Your ISO 9001 Certification to the World

What ISO9001 Means for Your Business

Once your organization is certified, you can communicate to your customers, prospects, and to the world that you have a quality management system that meets the requirements of the ISO 9001:2008 QMS Standard.  You can put this information on web sites, brochures, and other materials.  However, you are not allowed to use the ISO logo. Instead, ask permission to use your registrar’s logo to show evidence of certification.  Plus, always provide complete and accurate information about the certification.  For example, it is recommended to say ISO 9001:2008 Certified as opposed to ISO Certified. 

Many organizations make claims about the quality of the products and services they provide.  When your organization undergoes an audit by an expert third party certifier, you have evidence that you organization has an established and functional QMS that meets the highly respected requirements of the ISO 9001 Standard.

back to What is ISO?