Growth of ISO Certificates

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Someone commented on LinkedIn that the number of ISO 9001 certificates being issued was declining. I thought I would research the trends and determine the facts for ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 27001 – the results were 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 some problems with their own data reporting and therefore it could be argued that the data is questionable, but never-the-less the raw data is what they have reported and it is only this that you can base any argument for declining certificate numbers 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 I would argue that the only significant decline was in 2018. If you were to ignore this the trend is generally increasing. I wonder 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 – sounds reasonable and I 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 or it may 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 think not). I’m sure we are just highlighting deficiencies in the data again?

If the data is to be believed (?) there does appear a sudden decline in the issue of the main ISO certificates in 2018, but a continued growth in the number of sites. As such I won’t start looking for a new career just yet (I’d be mad to make a decision on the basis of the quality of this data anyway), but I might think about focusing more marketing effort on 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 business benefits of certification apart from meeting a statutory or customer requirement”


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