ISO Certification Process

ISO compliance

ISO Certification Process

Everything You Need to Know About the ISO Certification Process in Australia

Embarking on the ISO certification process in Australia signifies a pivotal move towards aligning your business with international quality and operational standards, providing a strong foundation for credibility and competitive advantage in your industry.

Understanding ISO certification requirements is crucial for businesses aiming to leverage these benefits, including improved customer satisfaction, efficiency, and global recognition, particularly with standards such as ISO 9001 for Quality Management Systems.

This article will guide you through the ISO certification process in Australia, providing advice on selecting the appropriate ISO standard for your business, preparing for certification, choosing the right certification body, and understanding the audit process.

ISO standards

Selecting the Right ISO Standard for Your Business

Understand Your Business Needs and Objectives

  1. Assess Your Specific Requirements: Before diving into the selection of an ISO standard, it’s crucial to understand your business’s specific needs. Whether you focus on enhancing quality management, reducing environmental impact, or strengthening information security, identifying these goals will guide your decision.
  2. Review Industry-Specific Standards: Some industries may have specific standards more suited to their operational requirements. For instance, ISO 22000 is tailored for food safety management in the food industry. Consider the standards that align with your industry’s unique challenges and regulatory requirements.

Explore Popular ISO Standards

  • ISO 9001: Quality Management Systems (QMS): This standard helps streamline processes to enhance the quality of products and services, making it a popular choice among businesses aiming to improve efficiency and customer satisfaction.
  • ISO 14001: Environmental Management Systems (EMS): If your aim is to improve environmental performance, this standard provides the framework for effective resource use and waste reduction.
  • ISO 27001: Information Security Management Systems (ISMS): For businesses looking to secure their information assets, ISO 27001 offers robust guidelines to protect against data breaches and cyber threats.
  • ISO 45001: Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems (OH&S): Ensuring a safe working environment for employees and visitors, this standard is essential for minimising workplace risks.

Consider the Commitment Required

  • Evaluate Resource Allocation: Implementing an ISO standard is not just a procedural change but a strategic one that requires time, effort, and financial investment. Ensure you commit top management and the necessary resources to support the implementation and maintenance of the standard.
  • Plan for Continuous Improvement: Achieving ISO certification is the beginning of a continuous improvement process. Regular audits and system updates are required to maintain the certification and ensure that the business continues to benefit from the standard.


data analysis

Preparing for ISO Certification

Conduct a Thorough Gap Analysis

  1. Identify Current Gaps: Prepare by conducting a detailed gap analysis to pinpoint where your current systems diverge from ISO 9001 requirements. This will help you understand the changes and improvements needed to align with the standard.
  2. Develop an Action Plan: Based on the findings from the gap analysis, develop a comprehensive action plan that addresses these gaps. This should include timelines, responsibilities, and required resources to ensure efficient execution.

Download our free DIY ISO 45001 Gap Analysis PDF

Document Essential Procedures and Policies

  • Create Comprehensive Documentation: Documentation is a cornerstone of the ISO certification process. Prepare detailed documents that outline your organisation’s procedures, objectives, and policies. This documentation will serve as a reference point during the audit process and ensure that all practices are aligned with ISO standards.
  • Review and Revise Documentation Regularly: Ensure that your documentation is comprehensive and up-to-date. Regular reviews and updates are necessary to reflect any changes in your processes or ISO requirements.

Read more: How to Write a Quality Management System Procedure 

Implement and Audit Your ISO Plan

  1. Implement ISO Elements: Integrate the ISO 9001 elements into your organisation’s daily operations. This includes setting up processes, training employees, and ensuring that all practices meet the standard’s requirements.
  2. Conduct Internal Audits: Before the external audit, conduct internal audits to test the effectiveness of your ISO implementation. This is a critical step in identifying any areas requiring further improvement and familiarising your team with the audit process.
  3. Engage in Continual Improvement: ISO certification is not a one-time event but a continuous improvement cycle. Regularly evaluate your systems and processes for potential enhancements to maintain compliance and improve efficiency.

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The Role of ISO Consultants

ISO consultants help businesses achieve and maintain ISO compliance faster by providing expert guidance and support. It’s important to choose an ISO consultant with experience in your industry, as they can help you navigate the particular complexities and roadblocks to compliance associated with your sector.

Here are some practical ways an ISO consultant can help.

  • Gap Analysis: Consultants conduct a thorough assessment of your organisation’s current processes and systems to identify gaps and areas that need improvement to meet ISO standards.
  • Customised Implementation Plan: Based on the gap analysis, consultants can develop a tailored implementation plan outlining the steps and changes needed to achieve compliance with specific ISO standards.
  • Documentation Assistance: Consultants provide guidance in creating and organising the necessary documentation required for ISO certification, ensuring that all essential policies, procedures, and records are in place.
  • Training and Education: Consultants offer training programs to educate employees on ISO requirements and best practices, empowering them to contribute to your organisation’s compliance efforts.
  • Internal Audits: Consultants assist in conducting internal audits to identify non-conformities and areas for improvement, enabling the organisation to address issues proactively before the certification audit.
  • Certification Audit Preparation: Consultants prepare businesses for the formal certification audit by providing guidance on what to expect, conducting mock audits, and offering support throughout the certification process.
  • Continuous Improvement: Beyond certification, ISO consultants help businesses establish processes for continuous improvement, ensuring ongoing compliance with ISO standards.

Leveraging the expertise of ISO consultants can help you streamline your journey toward ISO compliance and certification. Our team of ISO consultants have industry experience across a diverse range of sectors, from mining and logistics to health and construction. Get in touch today to learn how we can help.

Choosing a Certification Body

Key Considerations When Selecting a Certification Body

  1. Accreditation and Recognition. Ensure the Certification Body (CB) you choose is accredited by JAS-ANZ, which is the recognised accreditation body in Australia responsible for ensuring CBs adhere to international standards. This accreditation is crucial as it guarantees the legitimacy of the certification and allows the use of the JAS-ANZ logo, which can enhance your business’s credibility.
  1. Industry Specialisation and Experience. Select a CB that has proven experience and specialisation in your specific industry. This ensures they understand the unique challenges and requirements of your sector, providing more tailored and effective auditing services. For instance, if your business is in the food and hospitality sector, choosing a CB like QMS, which offers specialised certification for this industry, would be beneficial.
  1. Cost and Additional Services. Consider the total costs involved, including audit fees, surveillance audits, and any travel expenses. Some CBs offer integrated audits and additional support services, which can provide better value for your investment. Also, check for any hidden costs to avoid surprises down the line.

Evaluating Certification Bodies

  • Reputation and Client Feedback. Research the reputation of the CB and seek feedback from their current or past clients. This can provide insights into their service quality, professionalism, and the effectiveness of their certification process.
  • Auditor Qualifications. Verify the qualifications and experience of the auditors. A CB like SAI Global, which employs auditors with extensive experience across various management systems, can offer invaluable insights and recommendations that go beyond mere compliance.
  • Geographical Proximity. Consider the location of the CB. Having an auditor nearby can reduce travel costs and facilitate easier coordination. Ensure the CB has auditors available in your state to avoid logistical issues.

Making the Final Choice

  • Cultural Fit and Customer Service. The CB should not only be technically proficient but also a good cultural fit with your organisation. Their approach to customer service, their values, and how they interact with your team are important factors that can affect the success of the ongoing certification process.
  • Avoiding Certificate Mills. Steer clear of unaccredited ‘certificate mills’ that offer certifications without proper audits. These are often not recognised by customers and can lead to a waste of resources and damage to your business’s reputation.
  • Confirming Accreditation. Always confirm the CB’s accreditation status via the JAS-ANZ website to ensure they are authorised to issue ISO certifications in Australia. This step is crucial to ensure the authenticity and recognition of your certification.

mine audit

The ISO Certification Audit Process

Understanding the Audit Stages

  • Stage 1 Audit – Documentation Review: This preliminary phase involves a thorough internal audit of your organisation’s documented procedures and policies to ensure they meet the ISO standards. Having all your documentation in order is crucial, as this stage sets the foundation for the subsequent on-site assessment.
  • Stage 2 Audit – On-site Assessment: During this stage, auditors visit your premises to assess whether your actual practices conform to both your documented procedures and the ISO standards. This is a critical step as it involves a detailed examination of how effectively your processes have been implemented and are being maintained.

Regular Surveillance and Recertification

  • Annual Surveillance Audits: To maintain your ISO certification, your organisation will undergo annual surveillance audits. These audits are essential to ensure ongoing compliance with the ISO standard and to demonstrate continuous improvement in your processes.
  • Recertification Audit: Every three years, a more comprehensive audit is conducted to recertify your compliance with the ISO standards. This audit is similar to the initial certification audit and involves a complete reassessment of your systems and processes.

Addressing Non-Conformances

  • Identifying and Resolving Issues: Any non-conformances with the ISO standards are identified during the Stage 2 Audit and the ongoing surveillance audits. It is crucial to address these issues promptly. Implementing corrective actions and possibly revising certain processes or training may be necessary to resolve these non-conformances and prevent their recurrence.

ISO documentation

Maintaining and Improving Your ISO Certification

Regular Reviews and Internal Audits

  • Conduct Regular Reviews: To maintain your ISO system’s effectiveness, regular reviews and updates must be conducted. This ensures your system stays aligned with the ISO standards and your business objectives.
  • Internal Audits: Schedule and conduct internal audits regularly. These audits are critical for checking compliance with the ISO standards and identifying areas needing improvement. Address any non-conformities with effective corrective actions to prevent future occurrences.

Training and Continuous Improvement

Employee Training: Regularly train your employees on the Quality Management System (QMS) to ensure they understand and can effectively implement the standards. This training should cover both the technical and documental requirements of the chosen ISO standard.

Continuous Improvement: The ISO certification is a commitment to continuous improvement. Regularly assess and improve your processes to adapt to changing contexts and environments. This might include updating your systems to comply with the latest ISO standards or making process adjustments to enhance efficiency.

Monitoring, Measurement, and Management Reviews

  • Set and Track KPIs: Establish clear quality objectives or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and track these regularly. This helps ensure that your business goals are being met and that your processes yield the desired outcomes.
  • Annual Management Reviews: Conduct management reviews at least once a year. These reviews should integrate all elements of the Quality Management System, ensuring cohesiveness between business operations and quality objectives. This is also an opportunity to engage top management and reinforce their commitment to the ISO framework.

These steps, tailored to the needs of Australian business owners, provide a practical and clear guide to maintaining and enhancing your ISO certification. By focusing on regular audits, continuous training, and strategic reviews, you can ensure that your ISO certification actively contributes to your business’s success and compliance.

safety audit


What are the steps to obtain ISO certification in Australia?

To become ISO certified in Australia, the process involves five key stages:

  1. Conduct a gap analysis to determine where your organisation currently stands in relation to the standard.
  2. Prepare certification documentation that aligns with ISO requirements.
  3. Develop a management system that meets the standards.
  4. Implement the management system throughout your organisation.
  5. Conduct auditing and make ongoing improvements to maintain compliance.

ISO certification process

Can you explain the general procedure for achieving ISO certification?

Achieving ISO certification generally follows six steps:

  1. Choose the appropriate Management Standard from over 22,000 available international standards.
  2. Engage with a certification body.
  3. Undergo an initial assessment to evaluate your current systems and processes.
  4. Prepare necessary documentation as per the ISO standards.
  5. Achieve certification upon successful evaluation of your management system.
  6. Maintain compliance and adapt to any changes in standards to ensure ongoing certification.


What are the fundamental requirements to achieve ISO certification?

The basic requirement for ISO certification involves registering your quality management system (QMS). This includes:

  • Gathering all relevant documentation of your QMS.
  • Submitting these documents to a certifying body for review.
  • Upon successful review, your organisation will be granted ISO certification.


What are the most popular ISO standards in Australia?

Over 20 million businesses globally are certified or recognised under various ISO standards, including thousands of businesses in Australia. The most popular ISO standards for Australian businesses include:

  • ISO 9001: Quality Management Systems (QMS) 

Helps businesses enhance operational efficiency, customer satisfaction, and overall performance by implementing effective quality management practices.

  • ISO 14001: Environmental Management Systems (EMS)

Helps minimise environmental impact and achieve continuous improvement in environmental performance.

Vital for companies committed to sustainable practices.

  • ISO 45001: Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems (OHSMS)

Provides a framework for managing health and safety risks and opportunities to promote a safe and healthy working environment.

  • ISO 27001: Information Security Management Systems (ISMS)

Essential for organisations managing significant amounts of data to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information assets.