2018 is upon us and with it, a host of new plans and initiatives are being put in place by management teams up and down the country. From sales and marketing strategies to the development of new products, everyone wants to stand out from their competitors in the new year.
One surefire way to make your business stand out from the crowd is to pursue a standard or accreditation recognised by the wider business community. These accreditations might be industry-specific or they might have broader recognition, but they all do wonders for your business’s reputation.
We’re taking time out from our normal blogging on security and information issues to talk about accreditations because we know firsthand how important they are. In addition, companies looking to invest in our services to help with company-wide security policies will likely also benefit from the processes and policies that accreditations encourage you to implement.
What are international accreditations?
To keep the scope of this blog post reasonable, we’re going to focus on the accreditations awarded by a body called ISO, the International Organization for Standardization. These are the accreditations that we at Shredall have the most experience with, and they’re applicable to countless businesses and industries.
ISO brings together over 150 different national standards bodies to create internationally recognised accreditations. These are aimed at helping businesses around the world put policies and practices in place that tackle common challenges. There are currently 22,005 international standards you could aim for.
To make this more concrete, here are a few different standards that ISO lists are more popular:
- ISO 9001: Quality management
- ISO 27001: Information security management
- ISO 45001: Occupational health and safety
- ISO 26000: Social responsibility
- ISO 50001: Energy management
At the Shredall SDS Group, we’ve maintained accreditations for both ISOs 9001 and 27001 (listed above), as well as ISO 18001: occupational health and safety assessment series and ISO 14001: environmental management. These standards relate directly to our information security industry and to the nature of our business as one with multiple offices and facilities around the country.
What do you have to do to achieve them?
The accreditation process varies with the specific standard, but it typically involves one of these three things:
One important point to remember is that ISO itself doesn’t award the final accreditation. External bodies carry out the process. For more information on finding one of these organisations, head over to the ISO page.
An independent body will assess whether or not you meet the standard you’re aiming for. If you do, they’ll provide a written certificate to say so. The requirements for certification will vary depending on the standard. For ISO 27001, for example, we were required to have a company-wide information security management system in place that demonstrated our commitment to upholding information security at every level of the business. Most businesses will be interested in obtaining at least one standard that’s awarded through certification.
If the subject of the ISO is a product that can be tested scientifically, laboratories can carry out these checks to see if it meets the required standard. There are guidelines in place to ensure that the testing is legitimate and reputable.
Some products (ISO gives the example of fire extinguishers) need to be checked regularly to maintain their standard. This takes place as multiple inspections at whatever interval is necessary for the safety of the product in question.
What are the benefits?
It can take a lot of work to get an internationally recognised accreditation, often requiring you to make significant changes to the way you do things. Is it really worth all that hassle? We’ve come up with a few reasons why you might want to consider it.
Guidance in setting up sustainable practices
Complying with international standards often means that your business will have to go through a rigorous processes of developing and implementing new practices, which could be anything from better manufacturing techniques to data security policies.
Often it’s external input like this that helps you to make that step up in different areas of your business, pushing them to a higher level of quality. The accreditation also provides something to aim for that can motivate your management and employees, as opposed to being a strategy that just looks good on paper.
External validation in a sensitive industry
In an industry like ours, where it’s essential that the businesses are 100% trustworthy, external, internationally-recognised standards are invaluable in demonstrating to potential customers that we’re going to do a good job.
When it comes to something like sensitive documents, there isn’t a chance to learn from mistakes - you have to get everything spot on every time. In a situation like this, putting in the work for an international accreditation ensures that the right processes and safeguards are in place from the word go and reassures customers that yours is a business that can be trusted.
Following on from that previous point, any business can benefit from the increased credibility that an ISO accreditation brings. Whether your business is B2C or B2B, you’ll gain an edge over your competitors if potential customers can see that your work has been recognised in this way. It’s a sign of competency, quality and a commitment to high standards. Especially when you’re selling high value goods or services that represent a significant investment for the customer, anything that you can do to make your business more trustworthy is going to be helpful.
If you think that gaining an international accreditation could be a good move for your business, you can visit the ISO website today. Browse through the list of accreditations and see which ones could be a good fit for your business.
In addition, you can look within your business’s industry for other standards and accreditations that might be just as helpful. Whatever you choose to do, there’s no point wasting time. You’ll only see the benefits once you give it a go.
If you want to find out more about the Shredall SDS Group’s accreditations, click here.