Growth of ISO Certificates

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Someone commented on LinkedIn that the number of ISO 9001 certificates being issued was declining. We thought this was a good reason to determine the facts. We obtained data for ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 27001 and the analysis was interesting.

The following data was taken from the ISO Organisations own website. It shows the number of certificates issued and the number of sites those certificates pertain to. You will notice there are some gaps in the data. It seems ISO have had problems with their data reporting and so this data may be questionable. Despite this they have reported on the raw data and so this is the only data you can base an argument for the decline on.

Number of ISO Certificates Issued

As can be seen my learned friend on LinkedIn was correct. The number of ISO 9001 certificates is indeed declining, however it could be argued that only 2018 produced any significant decline. If you were to ignore this, the trend is generally increasing. So why the decline? Could it be the issue of the new ISO standards (ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015) had an adverse impact on certifications for these types of certificate. That sounds reasonable. We can also assume the reduction in certificates would lag the issue of a new standard by up to 3 years (the transition period)? Maybe the next graph will provide some answers.

Number of ISO Certified Sites

This graph shows a general increase in the number of sites certified for all standards. As such, this may be the growth of large corporations swallowing up smaller ones and aggregating certifications. It may alternatively mean that bigger business is more engaged with the ISO certification than smaller businesses. Or it could show those that have certification are more likely to grow into multi-site organisations. More likely it’s a combination of all of the above, but either way it shows growth, not decline.

Based on the provided ISO 9001 data before 2016 there were less than 1 site per certificate. So for instance, in 2008 there were 980k certificates issued to only 358k sites. So every site has on average 3 ISO 9001 certificates – I don’t think so! I’m sure we are just highlighting deficiencies in the data again?

If the data is to be believed there does appear to be a sudden decline in the main ISO certificates in 2018, but growth in the number of sites. As such, we won’t start looking for new careers just yet (especially knowing the quality of this data). But we might think more about marketing to larger organisations. ?


A word from the Managing Director: “We aim to establish long term, mutually beneficial working relationships, helping organisations grow and avoid the pitfalls that many fall into. Too many organisations feel their certification is a burden. We want to help organisations realise the benefits of effective management systems and certification”

1 Comment

Alan · August 9, 2020 at 2:05 pm

Having looked at the 2018 data, I disagree with the figures you have quoted. For ISO 9001:2015 there were 878,664 certificates reported, across 1,180,965 sites. Although the total number of valid certificates in existence was slightly down on the previous year, it is important to note that the survey question in 2018 was different from 2017. The 2018 questions made the distinction between certificate and site. Previous years had seen some accredited providers reporting number of sites as number of certificates. Furthermore, in 2018 there were notable absences in reporting from some provides of certification.

We do agree that the data has its limitations. Mandated reported by all accredited certification providers would go someway to eliminated this inexactitude. As was a standard framework for data reporting and collection. Not to mention consistency of data collected.

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