ISO Glossary of Terms

Generally, ISO (International Organisation of Standardisation) terms and definitions can be confusing, especially if you’re considering ISO certification for your organisation. However, understanding these terms is a great way to boost your business’s ability to gain certification. Below, we discuss the ISO glossary of terms to make your certification process simpler.


Standards are a set of rules for measuring the level of quality that businesses must work towards. These standards are globally agreed upon by experts, and without them, companies may lack competency. Examples of ISO standards are ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management Systems (QMS), ISO 14001: Environmental Management System (EMS), and ISO 27001: Information Security.


ISO certification is a seal of assurance from an independent 3rd party certification body, like Best Practice Certification, that a product, service, or process fulfils the requirements of an ISO standard. This certifies that a documentation procedure, manufacturing procedure, or management system meets the criteria for quality assurance and standardisation.


Before obtaining ISO certification, a company needs to follow specific steps to ensure that it’s prepared. Ideally, preparation is the most challenging phase of the ISO certification process and requires expert planning. An organisation must bring everybody on board and ensure that each team player understands their roles and responsibilities towards the certification. Without proper planning, companies may not achieve the intended results.

Continual Improvement

This describes an organisation’s effort to continuously improve its operations and quality management strategies to meet the set requirements. The continual improvement process involves planning, adopting, tracking, and correcting any issues that may occur. This is important because companies that are ISO certified must show a commitment to international standards.

Conformity Assessment

Conformity assessment is checking whether a system meets all the requirements of a standard. This assessment is done by either first party, which involves evaluation by manufacturer and supply, second party assessment of manufacturer and supplier by the purchaser, and third party assessment of manufacturer and supplier by an independent party.

Context of the Organization

This defines the functions and processes affecting the business. It relates to internal and external factors influencing an organisation’s operations and performance. Examples could be the culture and values of a company and how they affect the existing business processes and procedures.


Support involves every effort, including personnel and documentation, conducted to ensure a system works as it should. For example, the following items in the latest ISO 9001:2015 provide the needed support to ensure quality is attained in an organisation.

  • Documented information
  • Resources
  • Awareness
  • Communication
  • Competence
  • Leadership

ISO standards call for the participation of leadership during the development and implementation of standards. In particular, top leaders are responsible for creating the systems and working with the involved parties to ensure the ISO standard works. Top leaders should also ensure that the standard is achieving its expected results.


Imperfection is the defect or nonconformity of a system. It is a quality characteristic that deviates from the intended results without any relation to conformance to the requirements, specifications, or usability of a commodity. In most cases, these nonconformities are contributed by poor communication and involvement, lack of motivation, excessive detail, documentation, and insufficient customer care.

Internal Audit

An internal certification audit is a process of intensive review of the organisation. Business processes and systems ate audited by employees appointed by the company.

Consult Best Practice Biz about ISO Terms and Definitions

The experts at Best Practice Biz have many years of experience providing exceptional ISO certification services to small and large Australian businesses. We can educate you on the key terms used in ISO certification to help you understand and get clarity around the ISO certification process. Contact us now to learn more.


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