top of page

ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems

ISO 9001 is an international standard for defining a quality management system (QMS). It outlines various criteria (or standards) to define quality management principles such as focusing on the customer, optimizing leadership and management within the organization, improving and fine-tuning internal processes, and general methods of continuous improvement.

Let’s break down each of the components of and ISO 9001 certification.



ISO, or the International Organization for Standardization, is an international standard-setting body based in Geneva, Switzerland. It’s made up of a bunch of different representatives from a wide range of proprietary, industrial, and commercial standard organizations.

Basically, it’s the organization responsible for defining and implementing all of these standards.

The ISO itself doesn’t actually certify anything. Certifications are all done by third-party organizations.


The number after ISO is the identifier of the standard. ISO 9001 is one of the most well-known ISO standards, defining criteria for general quality management systems.

ISO 9001 is part of the wider ISO 9000 family. All standards within ISO 9000 refer to quality management.

Essentially, this standard is designed to help organizations to be more efficient and more successfully meet the needs of their customers.

At least one million companies and organizations in 170+ countries are certified to ISO 9001.

ISO 9001 is also the only standard in the 9000 family that can be certified to. This certification is not a requirement, and organizations can still implement principles of ISO 9001 informally, without getting certified.

Technically, only organizations can “get certified”. However, individuals can become Certified Lead Auditors, or Registrars, in order to perform audits on organizations.

Certification will generally cover the entire organization, with focus on specific facilities or departments tailored to improve performance in that area.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the most important information about the ISO 9001 standard:

  • ISO 9001 is an international standard for a quality management system (QMS).

  • ISO 9001 is part of the larger ISO 9000 family.

  • ISO 9001 is the only standard that can be certified to. There is no such thing as “ISO Certification” or “ISO 9000 Certification”, only “ISO 9001 certification”.

  • Individuals cannot get ISO 9001 certified; rather, organizations or companies get certified.

  • Individuals, however, can get certified to become an ISO 9001 Certified Lead Auditor, which enables them to audit other companies.

  • Size of the organization does not matter. It could be 1 person or 100,000.

  • ISO 9001 is a general standard for quality management – it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in.

  • ISO 9001 is a process-focused standard, as opposed to a product-focused standard. It is not designed to define product quality (although if your process is good, then your product should be too).

What does it mean to have an ISO 9001 certification?

Organizations that are ISO 9001 certified have successfully implemented a quality management system in accordance to all of the requirements detailed in the ISO 9001 standard.

Part of the ISO 9001 certification is making sure areas for improvement are identified and acted on. As such, organizations with ISO 9001 certification can be assumed to provide products and/or services that meet strict quality management standards.

bottom of page