What Is ISO Compliance?

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is an international organization composed of representatives from various national standards organizations.

Together, ISO is considered the authority for setting worldwide proprietary, commercial and industry standards for effective risk management strategies for processes, policies and procedures so that they align with ISO specifications.

All told, 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 meeting the requirements of ISO standards, although specific requirements will depend on which ISO standard your organization is achieving compliance for.


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 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?

Businesses and industries are affected by ISO compliance to various degrees, depending on the specific ISO standard in question. 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. While any organization with a cloud presence and information security systems are likely to 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 mitigation of compliance issues that ISO might have prevented.

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

ISO Requirements at a Glance

For the most current version of a particular ISO standard, please refer to the ISO official updates page.

As a general guide to ISO compliance, we’ve included this ISO compliance checklist to help your organization get started preparing 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 any corrective action to mitigate risks and implement a management process for monitoring and maintaining compliance.


Define the criteria and scope of your ISO audit.
Your organization is not only responsible for creating and maintaining a compliance program, it must also understand the scope of any ISO audit for which you’re preparing to assure that all requirements have been met. Ignoring audit requirements can result in costly re-certifications.


Conduct an internal audit first to assure all requirements have been met.
To assure 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 around 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 stronger security controls — it’s important to remediate all potential indicators that your organization may not pass certification.


Document all risk management, controls and remediation efforts.
Compliance certifications depend heavily on documentation of management systems and the controls that are implemented within them. Therefore, any steps you take 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 investment in time and financial resources, particularly for any organization still using legacy tools and spreadsheets to achieve and maintain compliance workflows.

Also, remember: initial compliance certification is only half the battle. After certification is achieved, your organization must keep up compliance management to assure 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, adopt a compliance tool that 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 to 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
Ready to see ZenGRC in action ?

Frequently Asked Questions

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

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

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 does not require this audit.

Both ISO compliance and ISO certification are voluntary; they aren’t regulations. Rather, 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 in many industries, the ability to do business at all.

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.