Barriers To ISO Certification

Barriers To ISO Certification

Barriers/Challenges to being ISO Certified

By James Onyango

There are many reasons why organizations that want ISO certification might not end up being certified. 

  • Too much bureaucracy / red tape in the organization– This prevents a quick decision making process. Some organizations have too many and unnecessary levels of approval.  Some of the leaders in the organization will not see the need to introduce ISO certification in the organization
  • Cost of certification- Some of these certifying bodies have very high costing. Your organization may put all the systems in place but lack the resources to apply for certification.
  • Lack of support from leaders– It is said that a fish starts rotting from the head. If the top management doesn’t support the ISO certification process, it is in vain. A whole clause in ISO 9001:2015 standard is dedicated on Leadership
  • Lack of engagement of people – if the organization does not involve the employees in the organization, the process will not be very successful. This is actually one of the principles of quality management on which the Quality management system is based.
  • Lack of motivation from employees- The ISO dream needs to be sold to the employees so that you are on the same page. 
  • Limited Knowledge- There are so many assumptions when it comes to ISO certifications. Some organizations think that ISO is not applicable to them. They don’t know the benefits that come with the certification. 
  • Rapid labour turn over – This happens especially when the employees you have trained on matters pertaining to ISO certification decide to leave the organization. You have a task of training the new employees which is committing resources you had not planned. This can be quite a setback
  • Resistance to change-  At times the comfort of status quo may make employees hesistant to adapt new ways of doing things, hence slowing down the whole process of acquiring a new system, at the end of the day change is inevitable. 
  • Bad experience with other certifications – Maybe an organization has tried and failed in other certifications which might not necessarily be ISO, this might cause some level of scepticism in application for ISO certifications. 
  • Discrepancy between perceived benefits and costs involved – Setting expectations that are too high or being misinformed on benefits of ISO certification. 
  • Lack of sector specific examples. Due to the uniqueness of the nature of jobs for some organizations, they might lack examples of organizations which have already walked in that same path. This may cause organizations to fret about going for the ISO certifications. There aren’t many organizations certified on ISO 1:2016 Geometrical product specifications (GPS) — Standard reference temperature for the specification of geometrical and dimensional properties (published in September 2016) in Kenya.
  • Limited Scope of local certifying bodies. In some instances, a standard is published by ISO but your preferred citification body is not accredited to certify you at your time of need. Your organization needs to be certified in Social accountability (SA) and the certifying bodies in your country are listed on Social Accountability website meaning you have to outsource from other countries. I took an organization through ISO 45001:2018, upon completion, their certifying body was not yet accredited to certify them on the standard. So, they had to go to a different body to seek that certification meaning now they are dealing with two bodies. This came at a cost. 
  • No advantage in the market- Maybe an organization applies for the ISO certification thinking it will open certain doors and it ends up not unlocking the doors as anticipated. An example is hoping to get tenders in an organization that specifies that in order to get work with them, you must be ISO certified. You struggle to get the certification but still don’t get picked by the organization. Your experience can cause a barrier to someone else. 
  • Inconsistent management support – the management may start well but lose interest mid way through the process or during transition to another certification. Sometimes change in organizational polices can be attributed to this. 
  • Insufficient “empowerment” of the people in charge of certification- When an employee of very low hierarchy is in charge of certification, they could face intimidation facing the top management and pushing the ISO agenda in the organization.  
  • Lack of prioritization of certification process- The core functions of organization can cause all the attention to be drawn to them, ignoring other processes. For an organization to get certified there has to be a balance in the core and the non core functions.
  • Force majeure – During covid-19 pandemic, employees have to work from home and this can affect certifications. In some instances, some certification bodies had suspended their operations for 6 months. 
  • Change in process owner – frequent change in management representatives can have an adverse effect on ISO certification process. By the time the new management representative grasps the gist of the process, there are transferred to other responsibilities. 
  • Too much responsibility on process owner – Some organizations will delegate the work of coordinating ISO certification to a person who already has too many responsibilities in the organization. This can cause a hindrance to the time dedicated to the certification process. 
  • Change in top management – A good example is when a company changes the board of directors. The new members might not embrace the ISO certification process.
  • Bad reputation from companies already certified- 
  • Changes in government policies – Government bodies’ change their performance contract targets and in some instances they don’t include ISO certifications. Some organizations might end up dropping it from their objectives. 
  • Incompetent consultants – Engaging consultants who are not up to date with ISO standards can be costly. I heard of this organization that prepared for ISO 9001:2008 only to be informed by the certification body that started had expired the day they went to apply for certification! They had to incur double cost for the preparation. 
  • Change in economic context – Organizations can change the core business they are engaged in, therefore, they will no longer require the same ISO certification they had applied. 

2 thoughts on “Barriers To ISO Certification

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.