The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has laid out a series of standards to establish accepted practices, technical requirements, and terminologies for products, services and systems that, when adopted by a company, ensures clients, suppliers and end-product users of a universal level of quality for that particular area of certification. The standards are designed to ensure the most effective, safe and efficient methods and products possible.
A company wishing to be recognized for compliance to a particular standard, can prepare for, and apply to be audited for the desired certification. The most high profile products of the ISO are for good management practices and are known as the Quality Management (ISO 9001:2000 QMS) and Environmental Management (ISO 14001:2004) standards, although many other standards exist for various industries.
Individual countries generally have their own national standards certifying bodies with accreditation for auditing and certifying companies and institutions according to the ISO standards. Information on how to get ISO certified is available through literature provided by these certifying bodies, or directly from the ISO.
The reasons to get ISO 9001:2000 QMS or other standards certifications include not only improved efficiency in operations, but also international recognition. Companies certified for a particular standard may display the ISO logo with the proper standard number, to publicize compliance, on their labels, posters and other media.