The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines conformity assessment as “a set of processes that show your product, service, or system meets the requirements of a standard.” There are many benefits of conformity assessment:
• Confidence: conformity assessment gives businesses confidence that their products or services meet required standards
• Compliance: conformity assessment helps regulatory agencies determine that products or services meet safety and health requirements
• Consumer satisfaction: end user-purchasers feel assured that the product or service meets standards and is appropriate for the particular purpose
Conformity assessment involves:
• Inspection: products or manufacturing processes undergo inspection to determine that they comply with applicable environmental, health, and/or safety regulations
• Testing: identifying the specific characteristics of an object, product or substance, usually in a testing laboratory; may involve calibrating or operating a product to determine if its performance meets applicable standards
• Certification: an independent organization attests in writing (with a certificate) that the product, process, system, or service meets requirements; sometimes referred to as conformity assessment
• Accreditation: this is recognition by a professional, scientific, or technical body that a certification organization is qualified to issue certification
In 2016, ISO held a meeting called a Stakeholder Forum in London. Among the insights discussed were academic studies that found that businesses that comply with voluntary standards experienced better returns and created less risk for insurers. Thus, another possible benefit of conformity assessment and certification is lower insurance premiums.
Although standard-setting bodies don’t issue certifications, they can help businesses find qualified certification bodies to conduct conformity assessments. Laboratory service businesses can learn more about quality management systems, conformity assessment, certification, or accreditation by hiring qualified consultants to explain the processes and requirements.
The many benefits of conformity assessment include instilling confidence in products and processes, providing assurance to consumers and regulators, and compliance with health, safety, environmental, and quality management standards. Conformity assessment even potentially results in better financial results, less risk, and lower insurance premiums.