An Overview of Globally Recognized Certifications & Standards

Globalization has shrunk the world to an extent where we can see its impact in numerous instances in daily life. We use laptops and PCs for instance, which are assembled in China, with parts/subassemblies sourced from local and international manufacturers spread across the globe. When an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) depends on a globally spread supply chain, it becomes imperative to ensure that the suppliers adhere to a well defined set of quality standards and organizational best practices.

Best practices that have an impact across the organization can fall under several functional areas: Quality Management, Environmental Safety, Organizational Health, Information Security, Process Improvement, Energy Management, Social Accountability, and so on.

Just as there are so many areas under which best practices can be categorized, organizations could look at several standards and certifications which establishes guidelines for managing their business effectively. In fact, for parts suppliers and manufacturers to compete in a global economy, they need to demonstrate their commitment to management excellence by getting accredited to globally recognized certifications as is relevant to their business.

Some of the most prominent globally recognized certifications that help organizations position themselves in the global marketplace are highlighted below.

(a) ISO 9001 – Quality Management System (QMS)

The ISO 9001 standard specifies the requirements for a Quality Management System where an organization is able to:

  • Consistently demonstrate its ability to provide products or services that meet customer expectations within the framework of applicable local/regional statutory & regulatory requirements
  • Ensure that its business processes are designed for continuous improvement through effective use of checks and balances to deliver products and services that meet customer expectations.

ISO 9001 standards have evolved over time, and in their current form, draw the focus towards achieving customer satisfaction. The accreditation process for ISO 9001 now measures the extent to which business processes as defined by the organization will be able to achieve customer satisfaction.

Benefits of ISO 9001 accreditation include:

  • Gives visibility to the senior management through an efficient quality management process
  • Clearly defines the areas of responsibility and accountability across the organization
  • Identifies and develops more efficient and time saving processes
  • Highlights process deficiencies, and thereby areas for continuous improvement
  • Reduces operational costs
(b) ISO 14001: Environmental Management Systems (EMS)

The ISO 14001 is a standard for environmental management systems applicable to all businesses. The objective of this standard is to reduce the environmental footprint of a business and to decrease the pollution and waste that a business produces.

The ISO 14001 standard can be adopted by any organization that seeks to improve the environmental impact of their business operations. This standard is of particular importance to large multi-national, multi-site companies, manufacturing, process and service industries across all industry sectors.

The benefits of ISO 14001 accreditation include:

  • A more proactive and measured process for environmental sustainability across the supply chain
  • Enhanced levels of waste reduction
  • Enhanced level of employee health and welfare
  • Reduced impact of business operations to the surrounding environment
  • Adherence to regulatory requirements on environmental impact
(c) ISO 27001 : Information Security Management Systems (ISMS)

The ISO 27001 standard is largely targeted towards IT/Software and Systems engineering companies. The information security controls in a business operation typically address important aspects of Information Technology or data security. In today’s connected world, information present in the IT infrastructure of organizations is one of the most valuable assets. Information assets are held by organizations on behalf of their customers, by virtue of providing them business services

It thus becomes imperative for organizations to ensure that:

  • There exists a robust process to examine the organization's information security risks, taking account of the threats, vulnerabilities and impacts
  • Designs and implements a coherent and comprehensive suite of information security controls and/or other forms of risk treatment (such as risk avoidance or risk transfer) to address those risks that it deems unacceptable
  • Adopts an overarching management process to ensure that the information security controls continue to meet the organization's information security needs on an on-going basis
(d) Organizational Health and Safety Assessment Standard (OHSAS) 18001

The OHSAS 18001 is a non-ISO standard which deals with how Occupational Health and Safety of employees, contractors and visitors in an organization is effectively managed. The OHSAS standard draws attention of organizations to the potential risks/occupational health and safety hazards that persons can encounter during the course of their duties in the organization. It also helps organizations identify the regional regulatory and legislative requirements with respect to Occupational Health and Safety

.

The OHSAS standard is compatible with ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 standards, and can hence be approached from the traditional Plan-Do-Check-Act sequence of implementation.

Organizations accredited to the OHSAS standard derive the following benefits:

  • Reduce the exposure of employees and other parties to occupational health and safety risks associated with their business activities
  • Potential reduction in resultant costs
  • Greater assurance of conformance with occupational health and safety guidelines
  • Demonstration of conformance to third parties, and of due diligence generally
  • Consistent and proven management approach to health and safety, present and future
  • Deployment of method for continual improvement of the occupational health and safety management system
(e) Software Engineering Institute – Capability Maturity Model (SEI-CMM)

The CMM Process Improvement & Certification process enables software product organizations and software services companies to benchmark their processes at five levels:

  • Level 1-Initial: Processes unpredictable and poorly managed
  • Level 2-Managed: Processes defined by nature of projects and is reactive
  • Level 3-Defined: Processes defined by the organization, and are reactive
  • Level 4-Quantitatively Managed: Processes are measured and controlled
  • Level 5-Optimizing: Organisational focus is on process improvement; defect prevention

Each of these levels could be attributed to software product companies, in which case the applicable model is referred to as CMMI-Product & Service Development (CMMI-DEV). Where it is to be attributed to Software Services, it is referred to as CMMI-Service Acquisition and Management (CMMI-SVC).

The certifications mentioned above some of the most prominent ones that apply to a wide spectrum of industries. There are other certifications, sometimes derived/extended from the parent ISO QMS that deal with Energy Management, Safety in Food Manufacturing, etc. Likewise, organizations could also look at Six Sigma based approaches for process improvement.

The common denominator amongst all certification programs is that they demonstrate the existence of well-defined management approaches to running all the business processes in an organization. By virtue of being globally recognized, these certifications help organizations position themselves in the global supply chain.

Startup Xperts is a Business Growth and Consulting company with an objective to transform CEO’s growth vision into realistic, strategic, actionable plans that delivers results. Startup Xperts supports enterprises through business strategies, goal setting, sales and marketing set up, developing a high performance sales engine, digital marketing, specialized trainings, executive coaching and leadership hiring. Whether the organization wishes to move forward with ISO / CMM certification or have systems and processes that are world class, equivalent to ISO/CMM standards, Startup Xperts provides its expertise in getting these organizations ready for this initiative in a highly efficient and a cost effective way.