Certifying your compliance with ISO standards for cybersecurity, quality management, and other good business practices can be a great way to demonstrate your organization’s commitment to superior performance. 

ISO certification means that a third party has independently validated that a company conforms to a set of standards established by the International Standards Organization. The ISO has developed more than 22,000 international standards with applicability covering a variety of industries and topics.

One question: How much does ISO certification cost? 

The short answer is that cost varies. For example, certification with the ISO 9001 standard for quality management can depend on many factors, including:: 

  • Size of the organization (how many offices)
  • Complexity of the business
  • Industry sector
  • Annual revenue
  • Number of employees
  • Gaps between the company’s current quality systems and those defined in the ISO 9001 standard
  • Cost of employees to develop documentation and to conduct internal audits and system review meetings
  • Cost of an ISO consultant 
  • Cost of certification auditors (external certification audit fees)
  • Surveillance audits (there are two)
  • Ongoing maintenance costs

A single copy of the ISO 9001 standard can cost $120 or more. Auditors can cost approximately $1,300 per day. For small businesses, the minimum for everything might be $10,000 to $15,000.

ISO 9001:2015 (the latest version of the standard) defines the requirements for developing a quality management system (QMS), which deals with meeting customer requirements and overall customer satisfaction. The main benefits of ISO 9001 certification are that it will improve business processes by enhancing employee performance and productivity as well as improving customer satisfaction

ISO certification cost for a small business

The cost of obtaining ISO certification for a small business can seem daunting, so estimating the likely cost as accurately as possible is always a good idea. Here are some factors to consider when estimating the cost of ISO certification for a small business:

  • ISO standard. Cost may vary depending on the ISO standard you want to use. ISO 9001 (Quality Management System), ISO 14001 (Environmental Management System), and ISO 27001 (Information Security Management System) are some of the common standards.
  • Size and complexity. The size and complexity of your business will influence the cost. Larger and more complex organizations often require more time and resources to achieve certification.
  • In-House vs. consultant. Many small businesses choose to hire ISO consultants to help with the certification process. This can increase the cost, but it can also expedite the process and improve the chances of successful certification. While in-house auditors may be more cost-effective because they already know your business, if the audits are done incorrectly, that can end up costing more in the long run.
  • Training. If your employees need training to understand and implement the ISO standard‘s requirements, you’ll need to factor in the cost of employee training programs.
  • Documentation. Creating and maintaining the necessary documentation can also incur costs. This includes documenting policies, procedures, work instructions, and other records.
  • External Audit. Certification typically involves a third-party audit. There will be costs associated with that audit, which can vary based on the certification body you choose.
  • Maintenance. ISO certification is not a one-time expense. There are ongoing costs for maintaining the certification, including annual surveillance audits.
  • Miscellaneous costs. You may encounter unexpected costs, such as process improvements, infrastructure upgrades, or software for managing documentation and compliance.

To get a more accurate estimate, you should contact certification bodies or consultants for quotes specific to your business’s circumstances. Costs can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands or even more, depending on the complexity of the certification process.

It’s important to weigh the costs against the potential benefits of ISO certification. Those benefits can include improved efficiency, increased customer trust, and access to new markets. Small businesses should carefully consider the return on investment before pursuing ISO certification.

Steps for a small business to become ISO-certified

To achieve ISO certification, a company has to submit to a series of audits performed by an independent auditor who has been accredited by a certification body. During the certification process, these third-party auditors conduct certification audits to determine whether your organization’s processes, products, and services meet the ISO criteria.

External audit fees are based on the cost to maintain ISO certification for three years. The number of days the auditor spends conducting the audit determines the cost of the certification audit. The number of auditor days is based on the number of employees in the organization. In addition, the external audit fees depend on an organization’s size and how many branches or operational sites it has. 

Your internal and external audits will often identify “nonconformances,” defined as the non-fulfillment of requirements. While one nonconformance isn’t necessarily a bad thing, a number of nonconformances could indicate major weaknesses in an organization’s quality management system. A company should correct both minor and major nonconformances as soon as possible.

FAQs for ISO Certification Costs

Can a small business be ISO-certified?

Yes. ISO standards are designed to accommodate organizations of all sizes, including small businesses. Small enterprises can achieve ISO certification by adapting ISO standards to their unique needs and resources. This adaptability is one of the strengths of ISO certification, making it an accessible and practical quality management option for businesses of various scales.

Furthermore, ISO certification offers numerous advantages for small businesses. It allows them to gain a competitive edge by demonstrating their commitment to quality, environmental responsibility, information security, or other aspects covered by ISO standards. This commitment can bolster credibility, enhance customer trust, and open doors to new markets and opportunities. 

Small businesses can leverage ISO certification to optimize their operations, streamline processes, and establish a reputation for reliability and excellence. While the certification process does require effort and resources, the potential benefits make it a strategic and beneficial choice for small enterprises looking to thrive in a competitive marketplace.

Is ISO 9001 worth it for a small business?

ISO 9001, the standard for quality management systems, can indeed be valuable for small enterprises. Foremost, ISO 9001 provides a systematic framework for enhancing the quality of products and services, which can lead to improved customer satisfaction. For small businesses looking to distinguish themselves in a competitive market, the ability to deliver high-quality products or services consistently can be a significant advantage. ISO 9001 can help businesses identify and rectify inefficiencies and quality issues in their processes, ultimately leading to cost savings and improved performance.

Another benefit of ISO 9001 is its adaptability. Small businesses can tailor their quality management systems to fit their specific needs and scale. This flexibility allows small businesses to reap the benefits of ISO 9001 without the need for excessive bureaucracy or complexity in their operations.

ISO 9001 certification also enhances credibility. It signals to customers, partners, and investors that a small business is committed to meeting internationally recognized quality standards. This assurance can lead to increased customer trust and can facilitate access to new markets and opportunities. 

In the end, the decision on whether ISO 9001 is worth it for a small business depends on the business’s objectives and the potential return on investment. For many, the benefits of ISO 9001 certification can outweigh the costs, making it a sound strategic choice for small businesses aspiring to thrive in a competitive marketplace

How much does ISO certification cost for a small business?

The cost of obtaining ISO certification for a small business can vary significantly based on several factors, including the size and complexity of your organization, the specific ISO standard you’re seeking certification for, the location of your business, and whether you choose to pursue certification with the help of a consultant or do it in-house.

To get a more accurate estimate, you should contact certification bodies or consultants for quotes specific to your business’s circumstances. Costs can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands, or even more, depending on the complexity of the certification process.

ZenGRC Makes Getting the Certification You Need Easier

ZenGRC is a powerful platform that simplifies the often complex process of obtaining ISO certifications. One of its key advantages is its ability to streamline the certification journey, making it more accessible and efficient. 

With ZenGRC, the arduous task of documentation, compliance, and audit preparation becomes a breeze. The platform offers a centralized and intuitive interface, allowing businesses to organize and manage their certification tasks seamlessly. This not only saves time and effort but also significantly reduces the risk of errors or oversights. 

ZenGRC empowers organizations to confidently pursue the certifications essential for their industry, enhancing their credibility, trustworthiness, and competitive edge in the marketplace.