Standardization within a business is common practice. Standards are a highly distilled best practice, established by experts who know the needs of the field they represent. The standards themselves can be about creating a product, managing a process, or delivering a service.

The development of industry standards has long been, well, a standard practice; so that individual organizations can align themselves to external norms, while customers and suppliers can also understand the organization’s processes.

While several recognized external bodies create standardized systems, the most frequently adopted standards come from the ISO.

What Is the Full Name of ISO?

ISO stands for International Organization of Standardization. The ISO is an international body responsible for creating, setting, and promoting standards. To date it has published more than 22,600 standards and related documents that apply to all kinds of industries, such as manufacturing, healthcare, and accounting.

ISO standards are a collection of best practices that promote product compatibility, sharing of solutions and know-how, and identification of safety issues. The standards present an approach that has been agreed on by international experts.

Businesses use ISO certification to provide potential customers with proof of compliance and win their trust. Before that, however, you’ll have to purchase and achieve the certification. ISO certification costs differ based on many factors, such as your organization size, industry sector, annual revenue, number of employees, and so on.

What Are the Relevant ISO Standards for GRC?

Various ISO standards and other industry-standard practices address governance risk and compliance (GRC) management systems for the information technology domain.

A few ISO standards that can offer guidance and advice for GRC include:

  • ISO 20000 (Service Management)
  • ISO 22301 (Business Continuity)
  • ISO 27001 (Information Security)
  • ISO 27005 (Information Risk Management)
  • ISO 31000 (Risk Management)
  • ISO 38500 (Corporate Governance of Information Technology)

Companies can use a hybrid management system, where they combine the concepts of multiple standards and frameworks (and implement other best practices as well), to create an effective solution that meets the requirements of organizational stakeholders. What’s more, the approach can also minimize the duplication of efforts.

What Types of ISO Standards Exist?

As mentioned, there are roughly 22,000 ISO standards to date, covering various industries. But out of these, the three main types of ISO are:

  • ISO 9001:2015, a standard for general organizational quality management systems (QMS), including vendor management. ISO comprises QMS standards for specific industries, too.
  • ISO 27001:2013, a standard for Information Security Management Systems (ISMS)
  • ISO 14001:2015, a standard for Environmental Management Systems

Different Kinds of ISO Standards

You can segregate each ISO standard based on the following categories:

ISO 9000 – Quality Management

ISO 9000 is internationally viewed as the best practice for quality management.

It outlines the criteria for a quality management system to help businesses improve quality and customer relations. The standard is a set of tools and practices that businesses can use to identify areas of improvement.

ISO 22000 – Food Safety Management

ISO 2200 addresses what an organization should do to assure food is safe for public consumption. This type of ISO standard contains guidelines that are applicable for all businesses with food safety concerns, regardless of their size.

ISO/IEC 27000 – Information Security Management Systems

ISO/IEC 27000 lays out standards that businesses can use to safeguard their information assets. Companies that manage personal data, finances, intellectual property, or sensitive customer data can use these standards to make sure their information is protected at all times.

ISO 31000 – Risk Management

Every business decision involves some risk. ISO 31000 provides companies with a framework for managing these risks by applying best practices for identifying risks and handling consequences.

What Are the Most Useful ISO Standards?

In this section, we’ll discuss eight of the most popular types of ISO standards in detail. Let’s take a look.

  • ISO 9001. This is one of the most popular ISO standards for creating, implementing, and maintaining a Quality Management System (QMS) for any given company, regardless of its industry, capital, or size.
  • ISO 14001. This ISO standard provides guidelines on what has to be done to implement an environmental management system (EMS). It includes policies, processes, plans, records, and best practices that define rules regarding how your company interacts with the environment. ISO 14001 requirements give you a framework, along with guidelines, for creating EMS for any organization.
  • ISO 27001. This ISO standard is for information security. Organizations that meet these requirements can be certified by an accredited certification body after they’ve been audited successfully.
  • ISO 22000. This standard details requirements for a food safety management system (FSMS). Following this standard allows an organization that’s involved (either directly or directly) in the food services industry to be assured that it is following best practices for safety and hygiene.
  • ISO 50001. ISO 50001 is a voluntary standard that gives organizations a framework to manage and improve their energy performance. It addresses measurement, documentation, and reporting of energy use and consumption. Additionally, ISO 50001 includes design and procurement best practices for energy-using equipment and other factors affecting energy performance that organizations can monitor and influence.
  • ISO 31000. This is a risk management standard that contains principles to manage risks safely. Implementing ISO 31000 facilitates safe business operations and helps organizations to achieve objectives, identify opportunities and threats, and allocate resources for risk treatment.
  • ISO 26000. A relatively new standard, ISO 26000 focuses on social responsibility. It provides businesses direction on how they can work in a socially capable manner by explaining their social duty. It also helps associations set up an effective system to do activities identified with corporate social responsibility goals.
  • ISO 20121. This ISO standard began in 2012 and covers event sustainability. It’s an international standard that establishes all requirements to help businesses and individuals improve the sustainability of their event-related activities.

What Is the Difference Between ISO and ISO Standards?

The ISO is a worldwide federation of national standards bodies. It’s a non-governmental organization that consists of standards bodies from more than 160 countries, with each standard body representing one member country.

ISO standards are internationally agreed-upon formulas that describe the best way of doing a specific activity. They are the main products of ISO.

What Are the General ISO Standards?

General ISO standards are the most common ISO standards. Here’s a rundown of each general ISO standard:

  • Quality management standards that help organizations work more efficiently and reduce product failures.
  • Energy management standards that cut down and optimize energy consumption.
  • Environmental management standards that reduce environmental impact, reduce waste, and make processes more sustainable.
  • Health and safety standards to reduce workplace-related accidents.
  • Food safety standards that protect food from contamination.
  • IT security standards to keep sensitive information secure and away from unauthorized eyes.

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