ISO 9001 Certification vs ISO 9001 Compliance

ISO 9001 Certification vs ISO 9001 Compliance

It’s often been said that the devil is in the details, and in this instance of taking a closer look at the differences between ISO 9001:2015 certification and ISO 9001 compliance, this idiom rings true. At first glance, the terms ISO 9001 certified and ISO 9001 compliance, may look similar, however the specific details of what each means reveals clear variance and important distinctions.

What is ISO 9001 Certification?

ISO 9001 certification refers to the fact that an organization’s quality management system has been certified by an accredited, third-party certification body to be in conformance with all requirements of the standard. In layman’s terms, ISO 9001 certification is internationally recognized proof of a quality management system in place at a company that meets or exceeds all requirements of (in this case) ISO 9001 - think of it like an unbiased stamp of approval.

What is ISO 9001 Compliance?

ISO 9001 compliance on the other hand, essentially means that an organization’s quality management system fully adheres to the requirements of the standard. However, it is often a company’s own claim. While it can be confirmed by an external party it does not carry the same recognition as certification from an accredited third party. This option can be considered as a type of self-assessment option that may still help an organization implement a strong quality management system, only without the third-party stamp of approval widely acknowledged recognition.

Which One is Right for You?

Common Questions ISO 9001 Certified ISO 9001 Compliance
How much does it cost? More expensive - due to audit costs, but comes with 3rd-party verification Less costly - due to audits not being required, but lacks some credibility
Do I need to be audited to achieve Yes No
Do you have to meet all ISO 9001 requirements for compliance? Yes Yes
What benefits come with each? Credibility, recognition, 3rd-party verification, can provide reduction in inefficiencies Cost savings, guidance for setting up a quality management system
What are the downsides? Greater investment finacially and with resources to implement and maintain Lacks recognition and/or validity, can lead to more customer audits

Key Takeaways of ISO 9001 Certification vs ISO 9001 Compliance

Ultimately, what most companies are searching for when seeking certification or compliance can be summed up in one word: credibility. 
With the ISO 9001 certification process, establishing credibility is a clear goal of the entire process, as evident through third-party audits and scheduled surveillance requirements - assuring customers (both current, and potential) that the quality management system of the organization has been independently assessed by a recognized, accredited third party.

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