Who or What is ISO?

September 21, 2013

Who or What ISO

ISO stands for "International Organisation of Standardisation" who are the world's largest developer of voluntary national and International Standards. The 19 000 standards published cover almost all aspects of technology and business including our environment and, if implemented correctly, provide tools for tackling many of today's global challenges.

"ISO International Standards provide practical tools for tackling many of today's global challenges. Learn how International Standards work in the real world in sectors such as Health, Water, Food, Climate change and many more..."

ISO Standards titles explained

We often refer to standards using abbreviations of their full title, for example ISO 9001 and BS 8900 are in fact called BS EN ISO 9001:2008 Quality management systems - Requirements and BS 8900:2013 Managing sustainable devlopment of organisations. The extra numbers and letters tell us the standard intended market: (ISO) International, (EN) European or (BS) national. The number at the end refers to the year of publication.

Both of these documents are part of a wider family of standards designed to deal with their specified subject area. However, of the 9000 family ISO 9001 is the only standard that is audited against by a third party. BS 8900 actually comprises of two documents and has recently become certifiable by a third party. Furthermore, it is supported by other standards including BS 8901: 2009 Specification for a sustainability management system for events. This standard is an example of a British standard that has led to the development and introduction of an internationl standard, ISO 20121:1012 Event sustainability management systems.

Why go for an ISO, EN or BS Standard?

An ISO, EN or BS Standard offers a structured approach to improvement that goes beyond legislative compliance. This provides not only piece of mind but a marketable achievement certified by an accredited independent body.

ISO, EN & BS standards support products and services to improve safety, reliability, quality. They are also responsible for supporting companies in reducing their environmental impact, improving the sustainability of their products and services and their CSR objectives. Furthermore, they enable companies to access new markets, level playing fields and support free and fair international business.

Externally, ISO, EN & BS standards are rapidly becoming a prerequisite to tender and even if not can still save considerable time and effort during the tendering process. Internally, they provide mechanisms for communicating measured successes in a specific field whilst providing potential savings, both financially and or environmentally.

As part of a research project, carried out by Paul Stevens at AVISO, over 850 companies, certified to an ISO standard, were contacted to try and better understand their motivations to implementing a management system, in this instance ISO 14001.

The results showed that the main Motivations to implement ISO 14001 were:

  • Pressures from clients and customers.
  • Instruction from head office.
  • Reduced exposure to Legislative noncompliance ranked.

The primary motivations for continued certification to ISO 14001 were:

  • The reduction of environmental impacts.
  • Enhanced reputation.
  • Increased profit.

In conclusion 82% of respondents saw a direct financial benefit in ISO 14001 implementation. This does not include increased tender opportunities or any work won because of the certification.

For further information please do not hesitate to contact us at info@avisoconsultancy.co.uk or visit our website.

If you would like to read more about topics relating to resource efficiency and environmental management among other topics please visit or Blog.

By Paul Stevens

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