The Cost of Adopting ISO

A question we often receive from organizations considering standard adoption is what is the cost? As with any change within a business, when an organization decides to adopt an International Organization for Standardization Standard, there are costs inherent within said adoption. Outside of the monetary expense, there is also time cost and in some cases, organizational structure cost. We will walk through each of these to help explain the different costs of adopting ISO.

Organizational Structure

Many organizations already have a structure or hierarchy before adopting ISO. In some cases, the adoption of an ISO standard will mean an organization will need to select a new employee structure to ensure safety and quality. When an organization changes its structure to adopt ISO, this traditionally means it is shoring up inefficiencies, but this can also come at a cost to the organization. A business that is adopting ISO should be prepared to take a serious look at its structure and processes. More than likely, the organization will need to make adjustments to be compliant with the standard it is adopting.

Time Cost

There is no quick way to do ISO. Any organization that says it can help a business adopt ISO quickly does not care about the entire premise of standards, which is quality assurance. Before adopting ISO, a company should be aware of the time it takes to become fully vested into a standard. For most businesses looking to adopt an ISO standard, it will take roughly six to eight months for full adoption. If a company wanted to buckle down, it might be able to adopt a standard within two to three months.

Why the time difference?

A six to eight-month timeline takes into consideration that the person assigned to the project working with the ISO consultant has a full-time job. When a person has a full-time job, they have other tasks within the business. To adopt a standard in three months, an individual would need to devote all of their focus to the ISO process. They would also need to find a certification organization that can certify them within such a quick turnaround. Keep in mind; some standards require methods to be in place for many months before certification. For these standards, three months is not sufficient time for adoption. When an organization chooses to adopt ISO, it should be aware of the time costs and be prepared to undertake the project within an expected timeframe. Should an organization start the process and become too busy, prioritizing other projects, it may not be able to complete certification — a failed project results in both time and money lost for the organization.

Monetary Cost

Speaking of money, adopting an ISO standard is not cheap. Or perhaps we should say, adopting an ISO standard should not be done on the cheap. The goal of ISO is to establish quality and safety standards within a company. When an organization chooses to adopt ISO, it is committing to a certification process that tells other businesses the products and services produced by the company meet a certain standard. Thus, a company should not look for a bargain standard adoption fee. A company should be prepared to invest in the standards it is adopting.

The cost of an ISO project varies based on the size of the organization, the organization’s processes, the standard the organization is adopting, and how the organization plans to complete the project. For organizations 0<100, the cost is about the same. However, as an employee size grows, more functions must be added to the standard, and as such price goes up. Additionally, the more processes an organization has in production, the higher the cost of the ISO project. Next, the type of standard an organization is adopting also affects the price. Since ISO 9001 is a broad standard, it is cheaper than ISO 27001, which requires more technical nuance. Finally, with the advent of the internet, more and more projects can be worked on remotely. Depending on how much of a hands-on approach will also influence the cost of the project. We say all of this so organizations can understand what goes into the value of a project.

If an ISO company offers a one-size-fits-all policy, chances are they are not providing a service that will give an organization the service and detail it needs. Furthermore, if the price of the project sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Usually, a cheap ISO project means an organization will end up with generic process documentation and will be up-charged for “additional” tasks which are vital to standard adoption. Meaning, the low price is not all-inclusive.

There are many costs a company should keep in mind when choosing to adopt an ISO standard. Cavendish Scott is here to help. Please feel free to contact us with any questions regarding the cost of adopting ISO or the path to ISO certification.

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