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Marketing Your ISO 14001 EMS

Once you have a robust and credible EMS in place, it's simply good business to let the market know. Does your market want more?

If you have not thought of this before, you need to determine whether your market wants confirmation.

If so, what approach to verification is best?

One is not "better" than another. The real question is – what approach is appropriate to meet your needs? This is your decision, but the market can play an important role influencing the outcome.

Unfortunately, there is a great deal of confusion in the marketplace around ISO management systems. These standards are all voluntary. There is NO requirement in any ISO management system standard to obtain certification. That is one of the great urban myths.

An entity needs to understand relevant market drivers and conditions to make a business decision as to which of the four options recognized in ISO 14001: 2004 is best suited. These are referenced in the first clause of the standard, if you want to read it for yourself.

Option 1: You can self-declare. This is not an 'ISO-lite" approach, you still have to meet all the requirements. It's still in your best interest to make sure that your EMS is robust and credible. If asked, you should be ready to share your policy and the scope of your EMS. These are the two points of disclosure that are requirements of ISO 14001.

Option 2: A second party audit refers to when a customer or other entity with a vested interest in you conducts the audit. They are not independent of your business, but can still give you insight about your system with a fresh pair of eyes and confirm that you have got what it takes to proudly state that you have an EMS in place. The same holds true for ISO 9001: 2008.

Option 3: An EnviroReady Report is provided by a specially trained professional accountant. The professional accountant is independent from your business, so the report is considered a third-party activity, without assurance. The EnviroReady Report was developed with small business in mind; to offer a logical approach that is sensitive to the smaller budgets of small business. Equally important is the fact that professional accountants are trusted business advisors to small business.

Option 4: Certification or registration by an EMS auditor is another third-party process, which is intended to provide assurance. That is one of the reasons it is a more expensive process. This approach tends to be used by large businesses and governments.

Each option has its own merits, its own pros and cons. Ask yourself why did you adopt ISO 14001? Was it for internal benefit? Are you trying to meet a customer's request? Be included on a preferred supplier list? Demonstrate to a buyer that you are a good prospect? Are you trying to prove to your children who want to take over the business that there are no skeletons in the closet? There are more than twenty questions that you could ask yourself.

Chances are if one or more of the answers have a reason external to your business that the EnviroReady Report or certification/registration may narrow the decision process. These options do not make your EMS credible, that is your job. The credibility of an organization's EMS can be reinforced by the use of qualified professionals in either case.

To Report or Register/Certify - how do you decide?

The EnviroReady Report does not replace the work or the need for registrars; nor does 14000registry.com offer registration/certification services. There are many competent organizations that have both the expertise and the experience in this area. Entities wishing to find an EnviroReady Accountant can inquire here.

14000registry.com reflects the neutral position and policy of ISO regarding which option you choose to demonstrate your conformance to the standard. We enable companies to post their options on an electronic exchange. We also invite accredited registrars to form reciprocal links. This enables organizations that adopt ISO 14001 seamless access to qualified service providers.

The Professional Accountant's focus is on the organization’s statement of self-declaration and evidence of factual findings. The Professional Accountant is not providing EMS consulting to his or her Report clients, just as Registrars are not to provide consulting support to their clients.

Nor does the Report compete with registration/certification; the enterprises that will select the EnviroReady Report are largely from a target market that has previously ignored ISO. ISO 14001:2004 includes a reference to this verification approach.

Enterprises can choose to use any of the four options and move from one approach to the other in response to their market's needs and interest.