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How many companies are ISO 9001 certified?

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If you were hoping for a simple answer to the question in the headline, I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed. Like so many statistics, this is a subject rather more complicated than it seems at first sight.

First of all, there is no central organisation responsible for certifying compliance with ISO 9001 standards. Instead, the International Organization for Standardization delegates responsibility to national standards authorities in individual countries, who then delegate further to commercial organisations to carry out the actual compliance audits.

All of these agencies are supposed to report the numbers of ISO certifications back to the International Organization for Standardization; but with such a labyrinthine system, it’s inevitable that errors will arise.

To complicate the data further, there is more than one version of ISO 9001. In 2015 the standard was updated, taking us from ISO 9001:2008 to ISO 9001:2015. Some companies and institutions will inevitably still be working to the 2008 standards, while others will have had updated assessments under the current rules.

Perhaps the most accurate information publicly available is “The ISO Survey” published by the International Organization for Standardization. Although the latest information is from 2015, it is the only complete source of aggregated, global data available.

The figures reveal that the total number of ISO 9001 certifications granted worldwide from 2008 to 2015 (the years the 2008 standard existed) was:

– 2008: 980,322
– 2009: 1,063,751
– 2010: 1,076,525
– 2011: 1,009,845
– 2012: 1,017,279
– 2013: 1,022,877
– 2014: 1,036,321
– 2015: 1,034,180

Unfortunately, this doesn’t help that much. These figures give us no way of knowing how many of the certifications granted are to the same organisations after a ‘re-audit’; how many institutions awarded ISO 9001 then lost their certification; or even if any of the businesses involved later ceased to exist, merged or otherwise disappeared.

The British Standards Institution (who originally conceived ISO 9001 many years ago) mandate their clients undergo re-certification every three years to maintain their status. If we assume the same policy for all certification authorities, a rough estimate of the total number of ISO 9001:2008 certified organisations should be the number certified in the last three years added together.

Using the International Organization for Standardization data above, that gives us a global total, at the end of 2015, of 3,093,378. Using data, from the same source for the UK provides a total of 122,986.

One final note of caution, however, comes courtesy of the International Organization for Standardization themselves, who point out that ISO 9001 is a model of best practice to follow, and that certification is optional. So the total number of organisations using ISO 9001, but not certified, is probably many times higher than our result.

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