ISO Jargon Made Easy

Let’s Break it Down

You’re planning on implementing an ISO Management System into your business. But… where to start? The jargon can seem confusing, and you’ve spent a lot of time researching, but it’s still not clear.

Throughout your research, you may have come across terms such as ‘continual improvement’, ‘management system’, and ‘gap analysis’. It’s important to understand these if you want to get the most out of an ISO Management System.  

At Candy Management Consultants we simplify definitions, so whatever your department you can gain a greater understanding. By the end of this article, you’ll be more confident and ready to start your ISO journey.

Check out our list of definitions below.


An abbreviation for the International Organisation for Standardisation. They are an independent, non-governmental body responsible for developing and publishing worldwide technical, industrial, and commercial standards.


Standards are internationally agreed by experts. Think of them as a formula that describes the best way of doing something. It could be about making a product, managing a process, delivering a service, or supplying materials.

For instance, quality management standards help with efficiency and in reducing errors. Health and safety standards minimise workplace accidents. Environmental management standards help reduce environmental impacts and waste.

There are a variety of different standards covering a range of activities. Each standard is represented by its own identification number, for example, ISO 9001 is one of the most popular which sets of the requirements of a Quality Management System.

Management System

A management system consists of several processes and procedures organisations will follow as they go about providing their products and services. Management systems serve the purpose of acting as guidelines to help businesses fulfill certain goals.

Examples of goals could include the provision of consistent, high-quality services and products, the efficient use of energy, the protection of the health and wellbeing of workers, and more. ISO 9001 is an example of a Quality Management System.


Adhering to the requirements of ISO standards without the formalised certification and recertification process. When the requirements of a process or standard are met then the organisation is said to ‘conform’ or to be ‘compliant’ with the required standards.


A routine inspection is performed by either one or more employees internally or a third-party external auditor. Audits ensure that an organisation is following and meeting the standard requirements.

A recertification audit is usually carried out every three years and ensures the requirements of the standard are still being met and that the organisation can keep its certification.

Continual Improvement

A key part of all ISO standards. Continual improvement is the ongoing effort to improve your organisation’s products, services, and/or processes. Efforts can widely range in complexity, duration, execution, and subject matter.


A nonconformity is any failure to meet a requirement. This could be a customer requirement, regulatory bodies, one of ISO 9001, or your organisation’s (e.g., failure to follow a procedure). When a nonconformity arises, you must react to it by controlling and correcting it.

Corrective Action

In the event of a non-conformity, the activity taken to correct it is known as a ‘corrective action’. It involves identifying and addressing the root cause of the problem to resolve it and prevent it from occurring again in the future.

Gap Analysis or Initial Assessment

Typically, this is the first step before implementing a management system. It is a report which identifies where an organisation has gaps in processes against the compulsory elements of the standard and where they need to be to ensure compliance.

Getting Started with ISO

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