Standard certifications can prove your company follows industry leading best practices, set your company apart, and assure your stakeholders quality and innovation are a top priority for your organization.

Achieving these certifications speaks volumes to your commitment to quality business practices, because standard certifications are based on third-party industry expert evaluations of your operations. 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?

Determining the foundation of values and principles you want to commit your company to is an important first step to communicating a strong focus to your stakeholders.

One of the key factors leading to ZWS attaining standard certifications were the primary interests of our customers. We found that their primary interests were often consistent quality, and one of the best standards to bolster cutting edge quality management was 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.

Actions such as identifying, measuring, and communicating customer needs to internal stakeholders demonstrate strong leadership. Standard certifications can help create monitor customer satisfaction and create incentives for your business to provide employees with proven resources and industry training, ultimately fueling your business into a positive and strategic direction. To ensure continual improvement, organizations can set goals and perform regular internal audits. These principles and actions are aimed to impact quality at the source and then have your processes verified by a third-party to communicate lower risks and higher accountability.


2. What is material to your industry and stakeholders?

In the case of ZWS, we recognized growing awareness of environmental cleaning methods and facility management practices within the facility support services market. Our strategy was to fulfill the growing need for sustainable solutions, particularly in the government sector, by achieving the Cleaning Industry Management Standard Green Building (CIMS-GB) standard to validate our stewardship and assure that we protect building occupants and their environments. 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. Companies in the construction industry can fortify a niche by receiving a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification to significantly increase the property value of a building. To find out if your organization could benefit from certifications, start with a web search of “certifications [insert your industry here] and benefits” 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’s time to wrap your head around what it will take to go through the standardization process.  Here’s an example; the ISO 9001:2015 process is based on a Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) quality management cycle. The dynamic process begins by understanding customer requirements to engineer 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, it comes down to the size of your organization and how difficult achieving a certification will be for you. Larger organizations are more likely to need a consultant due to larger operations and larger amounts of information to be communicated, verified, and documented. 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 cases, certifications of smaller organizations can be simpler due to a smaller and uncomplicated operation structures.

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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