International Organization for Standardization (ISO) compliance provides organizations with frameworks and best practices for quality management (ISO 9001), environment (ISO 14001), occupational health and safety (ISO 45001), information security (ISO 27001), and more. While ISO compliance is voluntary, certification can provide credibility and a competitive advantage. This article explores ISO compliance Software and Management Systems (ISMS).

What Is ISO Compliance?

The ISO is an international organization comprising representatives from various national standards organizations.

ISO is responsible for setting worldwide proprietary, commercial, and industry standards for effective risk management strategies for processes, policies, and procedures aligning with ISO specifications.

The ISO has issued more than 21,000 standards encompassing a range of industries, including technology, healthcare, food safety, and manufacturing. “ISO compliance” refers to adhering to the requirements of ISO standards, although specific requirements will depend on which ISO standard your organization is achieving compliance with.


Types of ISO Compliance Standards

The following are several examples of the most common ISO standards that RiskOptics can support:

ISO 27001/2

Guidelines for how to manage information security management systems

ISO 27701

Extension to ISO 27001/2 for privacy information management - requirements and guidelines

ISO 27017

Code of practice for information security controls based on ISO 27002 for cloud services

ISO 27018

Code of practice for the protection of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) in public clouds acting as PII processors
Our checklist will guide you to success

Why Is ISO Compliance Important?

Depending on the specific ISO standard in question, businesses and industries are affected by ISO compliance to various degrees. For example, industries that must take quality standards seriously — construction, manufacturing, healthcare, and technology — have a strong incentive to comply with ISO standards such as ISO 9000, 9001, or 13485. Organizations with cloud presence and information security systems will likely comply with ISO 27001/2, 27017, or 27018.

While there are no direct penalties for ISO non-compliance, there are several indirect repercussions, such as the cost of re-applying for lapsed ISO certification.

Moreover, organizations that ignore ISO compliance might suffer reputational damage, lose potential customers who prefer ISO-compliant vendors, or spend more resources on mitigating compliance issues that ISO might have prevented.

For example, ISO 27001 certification can cost upwards of $80,000. If an organization fails its certification, the business might lose customer contracts that depend on such certification and pay for another certification once nonconformance with any regulatory requirements has been corrected.

ISO Requirements at a Glance

Please refer to the ISO official updates page for the most current version of a particular ISO standard.

As a general guide to ISO compliance, we’ve included this ISO compliance checklist to help your organization prepare for your ISO certification.

ISO Compliance Audit Checklist


Plan, implement and maintain a compliance audit program.

You will first need to establish a team responsible for planning, implementing, and monitoring your audit management and compliance management program overall. This team will perform a risk assessment, take corrective action to mitigate risks, and execute a management process for monitoring and maintaining compliance.


Define the criteria and scope of your ISO audit.

Your organization is responsible for creating and maintaining a compliance program. It must also understand the scope of any ISO audit you’re preparing to ensure that all requirements have been met. Ignoring audit requirements can result in costly re-certification.


Conduct an internal audit first to ensure all requirements have been met.

To ensure that you can be confident about the results of a formal audit, it’s a good idea to conduct an internal audit before that formal one. An internal audit will allow you to gather valuable data about your ISO compliance and indicate any areas that still require remediation.
Furthermore, your organization should conduct routine internal audits to achieve continuous improvement over time.


Take corrective action for any vulnerabilities uncovered during auditing.

Whether that corrective action is a system that requires calibration, sensitive document controls that need to be implemented, or business processes that must be adapted to incorporate more robust security controls — it’s essential to remediate all potential indicators that your organization may not pass certification.


Document all risk management, control, and remediation efforts.

Compliance certifications depend heavily on the documentation of management systems and the controls that are implemented within them. Therefore, any steps to assess vulnerabilities, facilitate risk management, or implement security and quality standards should be documented and saved for your compliance audit.


RiskOptics Has Your ISO Compliance Solution

Achieving compliance certification for any ISO standard or standards requires considerable time and financial resources, particularly for organizations still using legacy tools and spreadsheets to achieve and maintain compliance workflows.

Also, remember: initial compliance certification is only half the battle. After certification, your organization must maintain compliance management to ensure that the new systems, processes, and controls don’t degrade over time and are updated as your organization grows and your risks change.

This is far too great a responsibility for a large organization to achieve manually. Instead, adopting a compliance tool will automate your enterprise’s ISO compliance and certification. That will save you time, money, and a lot of headaches.

At RiskOptics, our Risk Insiders can help you prepare your ISO compliance and certification program, expedite the process, and minimize the burden on your team.

ZenGRC ISO Capabilities

Our fully integrated and automated solutions equip you with a strong foundation for ISO compliance, enabling you to monitor your program over time to ensure you remain compliant and avoid non-compliance penalties. Our capabilities include:

  • Automation to streamline compliance workflows
  • Monitoring of the entire compliance lifecycle
  • User-friendly dashboard with real-time metrics on prioritized ISO audit tasks
  • Pre-built evidence request templates to help you prepare for auditing
  • A central document management repository to organize audit-ready documentation
  • Universal control mapping functionality to fulfill multiple requirements with a single control
  • Tracking of outstanding ISO tasks
  • Complete Risk Management functionality for assessments, scoring, and treatment throughout the risk lifecycle
  • Interconnectivity between threats, vulnerabilities, risks, and controls for greater insight and monitoring
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Frequently Asked Questions

Your need for ISO certification depends on your industry and its compliance requirements. However, industries required to meet ISO compliance standards include engineering, manufacturing, healthcare, IT, construction, etc.

ISO certification is usually not legally required for most industries. Instead, specific sectors have strong business incentives to embrace ISO standards as a demonstration of an organization’s commitment to high quality and performance standards.

The difference between ISO compliance and ISO certification comes down to audits. ISO certification requires an external audit by an independent professional accredited by the Committee on Conformity Assessment (CASCO). Mere ISO compliance can be without this audit.

Both ISO compliance and ISO certification are voluntary; they aren’t regulations. Instead, they are recommendations. That said, some organizations, such as manufacturers, may require their third-party suppliers to be ISO-certified to assure the quality of their goods, services, and processes and the security of their information, systems, and networks.

The benefits of certification include international recognition and the ability to do business in many industries.

Some organizations – particularly smaller ones with smaller budgets – may opt out of the cost and preparation time needed to pass the audit required for certification. They may decide that compliance is good enough and forego the added expense of certification.

Key features to look for in ISO compliance management software include:

  • Centralized policy, document, and case study repository
  • Workflow automation for processes like risk assessments and incident management
  • Dashboards to view compliance status and tasks
  • Audit trail recording for evidence of compliance
  • Reporting tools to demonstrate compliance
  • Integrations with existing systems
  • Collaborative features like role-based access, notifications, and workflow approvals

The proper Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) software streamlines and automates compliance activities, saving considerable time and effort.

There are several advantages to obtaining ISO certification:

  • Increased customer and stakeholder trust and confidence
  • Recognition for meeting international quality, environment, and information security standards
  • More efficient internal processes and reduced risks
  • Competitive edge over non-certified companies
  • Access to new business opportunities

While demanding, certification can pay dividends through increased sales, cost reductions, improved safety, and risk mitigation.