Cost of ISO non-conformance


What is ISO non-conformance?

ISO Standards are thought of as the global best practices by many industry leaders, so being ISO-certified shows your clients and customers that you’re a company to be trusted. But what happens when your business isn’t operating up to Standard? It’s known as non-conformance.

An ISO non-conformance is a failure to meet one or more of the requirements outlined in the ISO Standard’s mandatory clauses or within your management system. It could also be a faulty process, product or customer complaint. So, in simple terms, a non-conformance is where something goes wrong anytime, anywhere, with anything relating to your products, services, processes or customer satisfaction.

Non-conformities highlight that processes aren’t working right; they may not be documented right or that they may need to be updated. All sounds a bit negative, right? Well, the cost of non-conformance can be a headache but it can also be a great opportunity for improvement.


Types of ISO non-conformance

There are two types of non-conformance, minor and major. Minor non-conformances are often a single event or a low-risk incident that can be easily corrected. Major non-conformances have a higher risk attached and need more corrective action.

Minor ISO non-conformances

A minor non-conformance is an incident that doesn’t meet the Standard’s requirements, but it doesn’t have any major consequences.

An example of a minor non-conformance could be the failure of personnel to follow a process or a missing training record. It’s a ‘slip up’ that won’t cause a breakdown in your business’ operations but if they start to add up they could result in a major non-conformance.

Major ISO non-conformances

A major non-conformance is an absence or complete breakdown of your management system which prevents you from meeting the Standard’s requirements.

An example of a major non-conformance is failure to implement a key requirement of the Standard or an issue that affects production processes and products which could impact customers and be costly to your business.


What can ISO non-conformance mean for your business?

The cost of non-conformance can be hefty and can impact your business in many ways. Even minor issues can snowball and become a much bigger problem if they’re not dealt with quickly. Reporting minor issues within your organisation will also help you to identify trends. This can protect your organisation from issues that build up over time and become more serious.


Cost of ISO non-conformance examples

Non-conformance can have a negative impact on your business, so what are some of the costs of non-conformance?

  • Dissatisfied customers – your customers are key to the success of your business so the last thing you’d want to do is cause customer complaints. But if processes aren’t being followed and customer expectations aren’t being met, this can cause unhappy customers and a loss of trust in your business.
  • Quality concerns – a fall in the quality of your products may lead to returns, withdrawal of products from the market and products needing to be reproduced which could cost your business valuable time and money.
  • Loss of reputation – poor products and customer complaints can add up and damage your reputation. Not only will your company be seen in a bad light, but this could lead to a loss in sales.
  • Regulatory risks – the last thing you want is to lose your ISO certification but if you’re failing to meet the requirements of the Standard your certification could be at risk. This could be costly if you rely on it for working in your industry.


Why is ISO conformance important?

ISO conformance can provide big benefits for your business, from being more efficient and streamlining processes to boosting your reputation and employee morale, you’ll save time and money and reduce the likelihood of errors. Not only that but you’ll continually improve what you do and how you do it. Spotting failures is a great opportunity to improve your management system and make it more effective.

One of the great benefits of ISO Standards is that they’re internationally recognised as the best way of doing something, so showing your business meets these will help you stand out and get recognised for all the right reasons.


How to deal with ISO non-conformance

Nobody wants a non-conformance on their hands, but the key thing is how you deal with it and prevent it happening in the future. So, it’s super important to know How to take corrective action against ISO non-conformance. And one of the first steps after spotting a non-conformance is to create a non-conformance report (NCR). This forms part of a quality control process which details the non-conformance, stating how it occurred and how to prevent it from happening again. This is used to help your business correct the non-conformance and remove the root cause.

The goal is always to stop the ISO non-conformance from happening again, so you’ll need to review the success of your corrective action and check it’s working as expected.


Avoid ISO non-conformance today!

We know that running your management system while running everything else can feel like another thing to keep up with. But you’re not alone, we’re here to help and our ISOMentor training service is always on hand with interactive workshops designed to enhance compliance and avoid non-conformances.

Get in touch to find out how we can help you stay on top of your management system, call 0333 344 3646 or email [email protected] – we’d love to hear from you.

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About the author

  • Name:

    Serena Cooper

  • Company:

    Citation ISO Certification

  • Bio:

    Serena has worked for Citation ISO Certification since 2022, writing creative and informative content on ISO certification and consultation to help businesses reach their potential.


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