The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a managing body that was founded to provide quality and environmental management systems to industries across the world. The ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 standards are accreditations that are issued to organizations that meet or exceed the criteria set by the ISO. The certifications, which differ in criteria, have been proven to increase profitability and commercial status for the holding parties.
Some of the core differences between these two standards stem from the criteria covered by each. As a quality management certification, ISO 9001 is awarded based on set standards being met in the key areas of quality management systems, management responsibility, resource management, and how quality performance is measured, analyzed, and improved.
The standard ISO 14001 is an environmental management certification that is designed to assist organizations as they develop in-house environmental management systems. This standard is based on a model of continual improvement, which differentiates it from the fixed criteria that must be met to be awarded ISO 9001 accreditation. For an organization to achieve the certification, it must develop an ISO 14001-compliant environmental management system through a process of planning objectives, implementing processes, measuring and monitoring the processes, and improving the system based on the results of the monitoring stage.
As a part of ISO 14001 accreditation, a continual improvement process (CIP) is required. This CIP is based on expanding the environmental management system across all sectors of the business, using the system to enrich other processes and improving over time by continual monitoring. Many organizations seek to be awarded both ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 certification as it demonstrates a high overall standard of quality and environmental management structures.
The scope of each standard is what defines the differences between them. The routes to accreditation and methods of maintaining the systems once certification has been achieved are similar across both standards. Both can be applied for once a compliant management system has been implemented following the ISO guidelines. An intensive external audit will be required for either standard with an additional internal audit required for ISO 9001.
Both are measures of the processes used by an organization, not the end product. This means that a company that holds ISO 9001 accreditation can still produce a poor end product if the correct paperwork is in place and the quality is consistent. Similarly, ISO 14001 certification simply means that there is a system in place to meet that organization’s specific environmental targets.