We are often asked by new clients and existing clients – is it worth having more than one standard? For example, they have ISO 9001 (quality) and are thinking of adding ISO 14001 (environmental) or ISO 45001 (H&S). While we can’t answer this on a commercial level for each individual client as they will have a better understanding of their own industries, we can be definitive in our answer that additional standards can and will drive improvement of processes and performance within all businesses.

New clients are faced with a decision whether to go for ISO standards individually or to go for all three main standards from the start. In our experience, especially in the last four years, most companies have chose the latter option – predominantly because of the benefits of the new approach by ISO whereby standards have been developed to be easily integrated. Annex SL was introduced in 2013 and was developed to aid the integration of multiple ISO standards within a company’s integrated management system. Advantages of this approach include the ability for a certification body to reduce the audit duration up to 20% for an integrated system as opposed to going for each standard on its own, facilitating one set of audits per year, and also the company’s ISO certificates will be in sync.

Some clients do opt for introducing each standard in a staged approach or adding additional standards after they have successfully implemented one. This also has its advantages, allowing the company to become comfortable with the requirements and see the benefits of implementing a management system before adding others.

Interestingly, during the 2008 recession, the certification industry noticed that clients used the quieter time to really focus on gaining new standards, driven mainly by the desire to deliver better service, open up new markets, gain competitive advantage and to be able to offer more to their customers.

Additional standards or going for standards for the first time, also enabled companies to effectively look at their bottom line and become more efficient in the delivery of products and services.

In the current climate where so much focus is on corporate social responsibility (CSR), carbon consumption and sustainability, the implementation of ISO standards in quality, environment and H&S provide effective tools and systems to enable a company to deliver on all fronts.

In Northern Ireland and in some other regions in the UK, there is the additional benefit and support from government organisations such as InvestNI, which champions business and process improvement through its ‘Technical Development Initiative’ grant, which includes those companies going for ISO standards and supports this process financially for the initial certification.

For any company considering ISO certification for the first time, or the addition of new standards to their current management system, please feel free to give us a call or send us an email to discuss the process and options on your certification journey. We are more than happy to take the time, whatever the outcome, to help you consider what will suit your company best.