How long does it take to get (and keep) ISO Certification?

how long to get ISO

Persuaded that the benefits of ISO standards for your business are too good to pass on, you’ll head into a journey that will improve your business but how long does it take to get ISO certification and what do you need to do to keep it?

You have a plan for your business. Invariably, the overarching goal will be to expand your business and give this growth a firm, solid foundation. From applying for tenders to becoming an approved supplier, there are many avenues you can take.

You need to be able to show potential clients and partners that you have responsive processes and means of completing tasks. ISOs and other formal accreditations are one tool by which you can showcase the talents of your business. Providing a benchmark within your industry, taking the first few tentative steps on your ISO journey, you’ll have many questions.

As well as cost and ‘what happens next?’, you’ll have questions relating to time, specifically how long the process takes.

How long does ISO certification take?

As a general guide, popular ISO standards take between three to six months to achieve however this is dependent on;

  • The specific ISO standard
  • The size and complexity of your business

Some complex businesses can take up to 12 months to achieve an ISO standard.

Within this timescale, you’ll also need to consider that you will need to give some time over to the process, even with an expert third party guiding you through the process. Usually, the process looks something like this:

  • The first steps will involve your consultant spending one to two days with you – this can be done onsite or remotely. The internal audit process is the start of any management system process. When this is completed your consultant will set up a management review meeting.
  • Ongoing contact is maintained via phone, email or face to face meetings, whilst we put together all the necessary documented policies and procedures.
  • Stage 1 assessments are usually led by your consultant as a document review, but it makes sense that you’ll want to be part of the process.
  • Stage 2 assessments Your external auditor will want to see how you and your company function as part of the assessment process and your consultant will be on hand to provide ongoing support.

What do you need to do to maintain ISO certification?

Once your business has demonstrated compliance, you’ll want to maintain it. Your ISO system will need to be maintained as they are the platform to gain or retain some of your key clients.

Most ISO standards last for three years but demonstrating compliance will need to be evidenced annually. In other words, not following the guidelines of your chosen certification may result in the certificate being withdrawn.

With increasing benefits of any ISO standard for your business, it makes sense having spent the time on gaining the certification to keep it.

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Steve Kilburn
Steve Kilburn
I initially trained as an industrial chemist working in a variety of manufacturing environments eventually moving into quality management which grew to encompass environmental and occupational health and safety management systems. I hold a Masters Degree in Health and Safety law and Environmental Law and a Post Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Waste Management and I am a Graduate Level Member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). In my spare time I enjoy reading, my favourite author is Stephen King, and listening to music, generally from the late 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.
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