As you start your journey to get your ISO certification, we understand that time may be your prime concern. Many times, organisations need to apply for tenders and want to get a rough estimate of when they will get their ISO certificate.
Sometimes, investors or potential clients demand an ISO certificate, so time becomes crucial. Unfortunately, there is no straight answer to how long it takes to get an ISO certificate, as many variables could extend or shorten the time period. Let us discuss these variables in the following article.
What is an ISO certificate?
ISO standards are created by a non-government, non-profit, well-reputed and international body known as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Creating these standards is to bring about standardisation in different industries. In the simplest of definitions, ISO standards are guidelines that any organisation can implement, which help companies improve their management system in a specific domain. These domains include environmental management, quality management, occupational health, and safety management.
Whenever any organisation implements these recommendations, they enjoy benefits such as better efficiency, greater employee productivity and the creation of a lesser amount of waste. Some organisations get their management system audited by an external certification body to further amplify these benefits.
When organisations clear this certification audit, they are granted their ISO certificate. So, in other words, organisations are awarded an ISO certification for adequately implementing the recommendations outlined in an ISO standard.
Some popular ISO certificates
Although ISO publishes more than 21,000 standards, some certificates are more loved than others. The most popular ISO certificate includes the following:
- ISO 9001: This standard focuses on quality management and helps organisations build a robust Quality Management System (QMS), which consequently helps them address all their customer requirements.
- ISO 14001: This standard focuses on environmental management and helps organisations build a sustainable Environment Management System (EMS), which helps them address all their environmental issues.
- ISO 45001: This standard focuses on occupational health and safety and helps organisations build a rigorous Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS), which helps them address all their work-related hazards.
ISO certification process
It is essential to comprehend the ISO certification process to understand why the ISO certification time may vary from organisation to organisation. Long before the certification audit begins, business owners need to delegate the responsibility of internal auditing to some of their employees.
Alternatively, some business owners hire an ISO consultant with more auditing experience. Internal auditing is an essential step in the certification process as it not only helps highlight non-conformances but also helps create records that are pre-requisite for the certification audit.
The current status of your management system dictates how long it will take to apply to an accredited certification body. Once there are no non-conformances, you can work with an accredited certification body.
Next, a lead auditor from the accredited certification body audits or evaluates all your documentation to check for compliance. The lead auditor will need more time if you are a larger organisation. Once this desktop audit is completed, the auditor conducts an on-site audit, checking every process by observing its operations and interviewing the process owners.
After completing both audits, you are provided with a customised audit report highlighting all the major and minor non-conformances. If no significant non-conformances could lead to a failure of your management system, you are granted a certificate. Still, if major non-conformances could lead to a system failure, you are given time to rectify these discrepancies.
How long does it take to get ISO certificate?
As you may have understood from reading the above paragraphs, there is no universal answer to this question. The actual time depends upon the current state of your management system, whether you have hired an ISO consultant and the state of your documentation. If everything is aligned, ISO certification can take approximately a month. However, this process can extend to a few months for larger organisations.
Why hire an ISO consultant?
As you may have noticed, we have mentioned that hiring an ISO consultant can alter the ISO certification time. This is because ISO consultants are experienced in auditing and suggesting corrective actions.
In contrast, some relevant weaknesses may be overlooked when the organisation’s employees conduct internal audits. Although these deficiencies may not seem that major to your employees, they will be striking in the eyes of the lead auditor, thereby further delaying your certification process. Hence, hiring an ISO consultant is an excellent investment for any organisation, as it helps save time and effort and allows the organisation to achieve certification on the first attempt.
If you are looking for a number one ISO 9001 consultant in Australia, visit the ISO 9001 certification consultants page on the ISO consultants website. ISO 9001 consultants can complete the ISO certification process for you in less than 3 weeks.
There is no straight answer to this question; however, if your documents are aligned and your current management system is sound, you can acquire your ISO certificate in less than a month.
You may be interested in: Which ISO Certification Is the Most Important?