Meeting stringent ISO standards isn't easy - indeed, that's part of the reason for their existence - and some executives may find themselves questioning the need for these certification efforts.
Fortunately, there's ample research to support the business case for certification and the corollary benefits independent accreditations services can generate.
The Independent International Organization for Certification (IIOC) has gathered a number ofrelevant case studies and generated research into direct economic effects seen when companies in a variety of global markets seek certification. In markets as varied as U.S. manufacturing, Danish firms and industries in the Basque region of Spain, ISO certification generated higher return on investment, lower rates of regulatory and environmental violation and less time spent on regulatory compliance efforts.
Insights from November ISO Conference on insurance and standards
At a November conference hosted in London by the International Standards Organization, IIOC Chief Executive Officer Marcus Long explored some of the academic studies and practical benefits that adopting standards and outside accreditation provided to firms specifically in the global insurance markets.
The synergy between insurance and standards is obvious - both, after all, are in the business of managing and minimizing risk and/or catastrophic failure.
Anthony Hilton, a senior commentator for the Evening Standard, both facilitated and covered the event, writing:
"The point of the conference was to demonstrate to the insurance industry that firms which worked to voluntary standards were significantly better risks, and they therefore could and should be rewarded with lower premiums.
The idea is that the underwriter should look closely at the way properly approved standards are applied because this could tell the underwriter a lot about the underlying corporate culture and the likelihood of a claim."
According to research presented at the conference, firms that seek out and implement voluntary standards and successfully reach accreditation accrue numerous benefits, including better overall financial performance, increased customer satisfaction and higher productivity. The relationship
between striving for higher standards and delivering better products and services can become a virtuous cycle that pushes organizations upward and forward.
Accreditation standards employed around the world
The conference organizers stressed that the partnership between standards organizations remains at an early stage at this point, but that it could blossom into a much more complex and fruitful relationship. Long proffered examples of these collaborations, including:
- An insurance broker from the U.K.-based Howden Insurance Brokers who collaborated with the U.K. Accreditation Service (UKAS) to set up an accreditation system for firms working with asbestos, establishing both strong standards and clear consequences for non-compliance.
- A director from Mitsubishi Insurance Corporation who showed how the Development Bank of Japan provided firms that achieved certification for their business continuity management systems with lower rates on loans and discounts on key insurance premiums.
- Similarly, the Italian National Governmental Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work (INAIL) showed how accredited certification improved health and safety in a number of Italian industries, reducing accidents in the workplace and allowing INAIL to provide discounted insurance premiums to organizations that met standards.
Standards will differ from industry to industry, but the core business case for seeking out independent accreditation to achieve them remains consistent. Lowering failure rates, minimizing downtime and injury rates, improving quality and maintaining consistency should be central to the mission of any industry-leading organization.