Standard certifications exhibit industry leading best practices, sets companies apart, and assures stakeholders that your organization makes quality and innovation a top priority. ZWS has over a decade of experience achieving certifications and re-certifications from globally recognized organizations such as International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association (ISSA). Because these standards are based on a third-party and industry expert census evaluation, achieving these certifications validates and speaks volumes to your commitment and business practices. But before you dive head first into the standardization process, there are three questions you should consider first.

1. What do you want to communicate?

First and foremost, you need to determine what foundational values and principles you want to commit to and communicate to your stakeholders. One of the primary interests of customers is often consistent quality, and one of the best standards to bolster cutting edge quality management is through the ISO 9001:2015 quality management standard. This standard is based on quality management principles such as strong customer focus, the motivation and implication of top management, the process approach and continual improvement.

An organization can demonstrate strong customer focus through actions such as identifying and communicating customer needs to internal stakeholders and measuring and monitoring customer satisfaction. Strong leadership from top management can be exhibited through actions such as providing employees with the proper resources and training. To ensure continual improvement, organizations can set goals and perform regular internal audits. These principles and actions directly impact quality and have them verified by third-party processes communicates lower risks and higher accountability and trust.

2. What is material to your industry and stakeholders?

In the case of ZWS, we recognized growing environmental awareness regarding traditional cleaning methods and facility management practices. Therefore, our strategy was to help fulfil the growing need for sustainable solutions in the industry. For this reason, we decided to adopt and achieve the Cleaning Industry Management Standard Green Building (CIMS-GB) standard to validate our stewardship and assure that we will protect the occupants and environment of our project sites. CIMS-GB is a cleaning industry management standard based on green building criterion and a management framework focused on principles of cleaning operation quality, health, safety and environmental stewardship.

For many industries and companies, certifications can add significant value to their product and/or services. For example, for companies in the construction industry, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification can increase the property value of a building . To find out if your organization could benefit from certifications, start with a web search of ‚Äúcertifications [insert your industry here] and benefits‚ÄĚ and see what they have to offer. Also, ask your current and potential customers if they have heard of certain industry standards certifications and if they would be interested in such products.

3. What is involved in the standardization process?

After you have decided which standards best fit your organization, it is time to wrap your head around what it will take to go through the standardization process. For example, the ISO 9001:2015 process is based on a Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) quality management cycle. The dynamic process begins with understanding customer requirements and is designed to ultimately end in customer satisfaction. The effectiveness of the process is evaluated through regular internal audits and organizations may also choose to have a third-party certification body verify conformity with the standard.

To achieve CIMS-GB certification, the organization must submit detailed documentation showing compliance with the requirements of the standard. Achieving CIMS certification is not a simple task. ISSA Certification Experts are available to provide guidance to organizations interested in complying with the standard. A list of ISSA Certification Experts can be found here.

If you are thinking about hiring a consultant to assist you with a certification process, this will depend mostly on the size of the organization and the difficulty of achieving certification. Larger organizations are more likely to need a consultant due to their larger operations and therefore larger amount of information to communicate and verify. In addition, they are also more likely to have a larger budget to hire experts. If you are a smaller organization interested in a difficult certification, carefully weigh the value provided by the certification against the time it would take to comply with difficult standards or the cost of a consultant. In some instances, certifications of smaller organizations may be simpler to attain due to low complexity of operations.

Once you have answered these questions, you are ready to begin your journey of continual improvement and industry leading best practices that will distinguish your organization and help you rise to the top!

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