ISO certification: Template systems versus fully customised systems

Are you tossing up whether to use a template or fully customised system to achieve ISO certification?

There are a few important points to weigh up when making this decision. In this article, we take a closer look at the positives and restraints of both approaches.

Why do companies use template systems for ISO certification?

Template systems are available for businesses to purchase online. They provide a ready-made framework for implementing the ISO requirements.

The advantages of template systems

Compared to fully customising systems, template systems are a more budget-friendly option in the short term. In addition, if a company has employees who are experienced with working with ISO standard requirements, it can reduce the time and effort you’d put into creating a system from scratch.

The limitations of template systems

Despite their advantages, template systems come with limitations that mean they’re not necessarily the best option for all businesses.

Firstly, template solutions tend to be more generic. While possible, customising templates often proves to be challenging and time-consuming unless you have experienced people within your business with an intricate understanding of ISO standard requirements, including which parts are compulsory and which can be discarded.

Template systems prioritise meeting ISO standards clause by clause but often overlook strategies that drive business growth and productivity. With ISO certification, a balanced approach that integrates ISO requirements into the broader context of company development is key to achieving lasting benefits.

In addition, templates are designed to cater to multiple industries, often leading to unnecessary paperwork, unlike customised systems that precisely align with your business, reducing documentation to what’s essential for your specific industry.

While template systems offer convenience, they often lack vital elements unique to your business, particularly product, service delivery, and control. Relying solely on templates might lead to a system that doesn’t fully match your business’s intricacies.

Template systems also generally aren’t designed with scalability and efficiency in mind, making long-term maintenance challenging. These systems might struggle to adapt as businesses grow, potentially requiring significant adjustments.

While templates can provide you with a decent “starting point” for ISO certification, this is only when they’re used as an initial foundation that’s then customised to align with your organisation’s specific needs and intricacies.

How to avoid dodgy template systems

If you’re thinking about using a template system, there are a few things we would suggest taking into account to ensure that the system you’re left with meets your expectations and requirements.

Firstly, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be cautious when dealing with companies that promise to “go away” and create all your procedures in a matter of days or at an incredibly low cost. Generally, offers like these are scams or a bundle of generic policies and procedures that won’t pass an audit.

If you’re working with a consultant using pre-made documents, it’s a good idea to ask if they can help you customise these documents to fit your specific needs and how much it will cost.

In addition, avoid templates that follow the standard’s clauses too closely without considering good business practices. Templates should fit your business practices and needs, not just meet a checklist. If a template sticks too closely to the standard’s wording without adapting to your business’s unique way of doing things, it can undermine the quality of your procedures and how well your business operates.

Why systems fully customised by a consultant are often preferred for ISO certification

1. Can require less time, money and effort

Template systems might appear simpler and more cost-effective initially, but they often demand greater ongoing maintenance.

Managing a heavily documented or ill-fitting management system stemming from templates takes more time, money and effort. Fully customised systems tailored to your specific needs are leaner and easier to manage, leading to better efficiency and reduced long-term costs.

When you invest time and effort into developing customised systems, the aim is to build management frameworks that are robust and reliable. This establishes a strong foundation for compliance that can be seamlessly maintained over the long term.

When your business needs evolve or there are updates to ISO standards and legislative requirements, with fully customised systems in place, you can have confidence in your organisation’s ability to adapt and stay compliant with changing demands.

2. Tailored to your unique business needs

ISO compliance requirements vary depending on the nature of each business.

Instead of attempting to fit your unique operations into a template, a consultant takes a personalised approach.

ISO consultants are able to produce leaner, tighter systems because they know what’s necessary to include and how to get the best efficiencies into workflows and system design, all while complying with the standard requirements. They craft customised processes that align with your existing practices, ensuring a seamless integration of ISO standards into your operations.

The outcome is low-burden systems tailored precisely to your business needs, offering a seamless blend of compliance and productivity.

3. You can be confident that the resulting system will pass the audit

When it comes to ISO certification, opting for a consultant-led, fully customised system gives you the confidence that your system will ace the audit.

Templates lack the flexibility to consider your business’s unique traits, which can result in gaps leading to non-compliance issues, potentially delaying certification by weeks or even months.

Alternatively, a customised approach leaves no room for oversight. Consultants tailor the system to your specific needs, ensuring every aspect is covered. This thorough method provides assurance that corners haven’t been cut, making the certification process smoother and more successful.

4. Takes the pressure off your team

Another significant advantage of fully customised systems is that it takes pressure off your team.

While your input is still crucial, all the decision-making and technical work is expertly managed by professionals. This means you don’t have to struggle with making sense of templates or trying to make them fit your business and compliance needs. Your employees can stay focused on their usual tasks and main duties without the added challenge of dealing with templated systems.

This setup promotes smoother operations and lets everyone work more efficiently towards their goals.

The benefits of working with an ISO consultant to develop fully customised systems

Achieving ISO certification is notable, showcasing a commitment to quality and compliance.

However, the compliance process can take some getting used to, requiring a strong understanding of ISO standards and their application. This is where working with an ISO consultant can be incredibly beneficial, helping you seamlessly reach your certification objectives with their guidance.

Collaborating with an ISO consultant to customise your systems and achieve ISO certification brings several key benefits:

  • Expert guidance: ISO consultants are seasoned professionals with deep knowledge of ISO standards and compliance requirements. Their expertise ensures that your systems are aligned with the standards and optimised for your specific business needs.
  • Tailored solutions: Consultants understand that one size doesn’t fit all. They can adapt ISO requirements to match your unique business processes, ensuring that your systems enhance your operations instead of hindering them.
  • Smooth implementation: Consultants streamline the process, ensuring that your customised systems are integrated seamlessly into your existing workflows. This reduces disruptions and accelerates the implementation timeline.
  • Reduced complexity: Consultants simplify the language and guide you through the technicalities of ISO standards, making compliance more manageable and understandable for your team.
  • Effective training: Consultants provide training for your employees, helping them understand the customised systems and how to work within them. This empowers your team to use the systems effectively from day one.
  • Future-proofing: Customised systems are designed with adaptability in mind. Consultants ensure that your systems can evolve alongside changes in your business, industry regulations, and ISO standards.
  • Higher confidence in audits: Consultants help you prepare for audits, ensuring that your customised systems meet ISO standard requirements. This boosts your confidence during audits and increases the likelihood of successful certification.
  • Cost-effectiveness: While there’s an investment in hiring a consultant, the long-term benefits outweigh the costs. Customised systems are more efficient, reducing unnecessary expenses associated with ill-fitting templates.
  • Time savings: Consultants accelerate the process by leveraging their experience. They can efficiently customise systems, saving your team valuable time that can be allocated to core business activities.

How to choose an consultant for ISO certification

When deciding which ISO consultant will be the best fit for your business, make sure to consider the following:

  • Experience: Choose experienced consultants who know ISO standards inside out and have worked on projects like yours.
  • Reputation: Research their reputation through reviews and referrals.
  • Communication: Prioritise consultants who communicate well and collaborate effectively.
  • Customisation: Look for a tailored approach that fits your business.
  • Cost: Ensure their pricing aligns with your budget and is realistic for their service.
  • Support: Confirm whether they provide ongoing support as your systems and requirements evolve.
  • Technology: Opt for consultants familiar with modern cloud-based systems.

Contact us about ISO certification

At Integrated Compliance Solutions, we help companies develop fully customised management systems and get certified to a range of ISO standards, including ISO 9001ISO 45001ISO 14001 and ISO 27001.

Available Australia-wide with extensive experience in diverse industries, we have the knowledge and expertise to help you achieve your compliance goals.

To find out more contact our team today.

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