Updated: March 20, 2018 by Renee Ferry, ISO Project Manager

ISO 9001:2015 can be an overwhelming subject for many companies. This can be the case for those that are not familiar with the standard, find themselves backed into a corner by a current customer or need to increase their prospects and know that ISO 9001:2015 puts them into a whole new competitive category.

These circumstances can often make a business feel like their choices are limited or taken away. There is good news in the land of ISO 9001:2015. That news is that there are choices.

An option often overlooked is the fact that a business can be “ISO 9001:2015 compliant” and not have to go through the rigor of a certification audit. The same goes for ISO 14001, 27001, and 45001.  This compliance option may meet your customers’ expectations for the implementation of a formal quality management system (QMS) based on the ISO standard. This option can be considered a type of “self-assessment.” With this option, you will still implement a complete QMS but, not take the final step of hiring a Registrar to conduct the certification audit, saving you time, money and the stress of “passing” a certification audit.

ISO 9001 Certification ISO 9001 Compliance
Implementation Time and Expense A little more time and expense A little less time and expense
Likelihood of customer audits of your system Less likely More likely
Applicable ISO 9001 requirements All
Ongoing maintenance cost Higher – includes the cost of the ISO certification audits Lower – excludes the costs of the ISO certification audits
Overall effectiveness Can be the same; primarily dependent upon continued management support
International recognition Yes No
Additional advantages External audit to assess your QMS Avoids the cost of the external audit

In summary, please know that you do have options when it comes to ISO 9001:2015, ISO 14001, ISO 27001, and ISO 45001. Only you can determine which of the options best suits your company’s needs. We hope the information we provide here assists in that decision process. One step you will want to take before finalizing your approach is to check with your customers to ensure that the ISO 9001: 2015 Compliance option satisfies their requirements. Also, know that the compliance option will require additional diligence on the company’s part to sustain effectiveness over time. Where the Registrar audit requires additional time and expense, it does provide an accountability in maintaining the QMS long-term.