GRC Software Essential For Compliance

GRC Software Essential For Compliance

GRC Software Essential For Compliance
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Written by Ivar van Duuren

security island
Ensuring (information) security, being compliant with laws and regulations, and managing risk are the most important responsibilities of security officers. And that can be quite challenging. Fortunately, GRC (Governance, Risk and Compliance) software offers a powerful solution to meet these challenges.

In this article, you’ll learn more about what GRC software is, why it’s important, what essential features you should consider, and how it helps your organization achieve ISO certification.

What is GRC Software?

GRC software is an integrated platform that helps organizations effectively manage governance, risk management, and compliance activities. It provides a centralized system to capture, monitor, and report on policies, processes, risks, and controls. With GRC software, companies can get a holistic view of their risk and compliance landscape and take appropriate actions to manage them.

GRC software often combines several modules such as risk management, internal controls, compliance management, audit management, and incident management. By bringing all these aspects together in one platform, your organization is better able to achieve a streamlined and efficient approach to (information) security.

Why is GRC Software Important?

Organizations are increasingly confronted with risks and increasingly stringent laws and regulations. Examples include the GDPR for data protection, ISO standards for quality and security, and industry-specific regulations. Failure to comply with these regulations can lead to large fines, reputational damage, and even criminal prosecution.

In addition, technological developments such as cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence bring new risks in the areas of cybersecurity, privacy, and ethics. It is crucial for companies to proactively identify, assess, and manage these risks.

GRC software helps organizations get a handle on this complex environment. It provides insight into relevant laws and regulations and supports the creation and management of policies and procedures. It also helps identify and assess risks. With GRC software, companies demonstrate compliance, handle audits more efficiently, and respond quicker to incidents.

Essential Features of GRC Software

When selecting GRC software, it is important to pay attention to several essential features. Below we discuss some key features.

1. Risk management

A powerful risk management module helps identify, assess, and control risks. It should assign risk ownership, facilitate risk assessments, and support risk response measures.

2. Compliance management

The software should provide an overview of relevant laws and regulations, link compliance requirements to internal controls, and report compliance status. Automated workflows for compliance tasks are a plus.

3. Audit management

GRC software should streamline audits by supporting audit planning, audit execution, and audit reporting. Integration with risk and compliance management is essential for a risk-based audit approach.

4. Incident management

An effective incident management process is critical for quickly detecting, investigating, and resolving security incidents and compliance issues. GRC software should support incident reporting, workflows, and root cause analysis.

5. Policy and document management

Policies, procedures, and other GRC-related documents must be stored, managed, and distributed centrally. Version control, access control, and testing are important functions.

6. Reporting and dashboards

Powerful reporting and intuitive dashboards are essential for understanding GRC status and trends. Flexible reporting, real-time dashboards, and drill-down capabilities help with data-driven decisions.

7. Integration and scalability

GRC software must be able to integrate with other systems such as SIEM, vulnerability management, and ticketing tools. A scalable architecture is needed to grow your organization.

GRC Software and ISO Certification

For many companies, achieving and maintaining ISO certifications such as ISO 27001 (information security), ISO 9001 (quality) and ISO 14001 (environment) is of great importance. GRC software can be a valuable tool for meeting the requirements of these standards.

ISO standards require a systematic approach to risk management, implementing appropriate controls and continuously improving processes. GRC software supports this by:

  • Identifying and assessing risks relevant to the ISO scope
  • Defining and managing policies and procedures that meet ISO requirements
  • Linking ISO controls to risks and compliance requirements
  • Planning and conducting internal audits in preparation for ISO audits
  • Track action items and improvement measures resulting from audits
  • Generate necessary documentation and evidence for ISO certification

By using GRC software, your organization demonstrates having a structured and effective management system that complies with ISO standards. It helps streamline and automate many tasks regarding ISO compliance. This makes achieving and maintaining certifications more efficient.

9 Tips For a Successful Implementation of GRC Software

Are you aware of the important role GRC software plays in risk management and compliance and do you want to implement GRC software in your organization? Here are some helpful tips.

1. Define clear objectives

Before you start implementing, it is crucial to set clear goals. What exactly do you want to achieve with the GRC software? What specific problems does it need to solve? By setting concrete goals, you create focus and it is easier to evaluate afterwards whether the implementation was successful. 

2. Ensure support within the organization

A successful implementation requires support within the entire organization. Therefore, involve stakeholders from different departments, such as IT, legal affairs, and management, from the beginning. Communicate clearly about the purpose and benefits of the GRC software. When everyone is on the same page, the implementation goes a lot smoother.

3. Choose the right GRC software

There are numerous GRC software solutions available on the market. Choosing a solution that fits your organization’s specific needs and requirements is essential. Make a list of must-have features and nice-to-haves. Request demos and references from vendors and compare carefully before making a decision.

4. Integrate with existing systems

Look carefully at how the GRC software integrates with your organization’s IT infrastructure and systems. Seamless integration is essential for efficient operation and prevents duplication or inconsistencies. Verify that the chosen solution is compatible and supported by your current IT environment.

5. Commit to training and adoption

Even the best GRC software is only useful if employees know how to work with it. Therefore, invest sufficient time and resources in training and support. Organize workshops, webinars, or online courses to familiarize users with the new tools. In addition, establish clear guidelines for their use.

6. Start small and scale up gradually

Implement the GRC software step by step, rather than trying to do everything at once. Start with a pilot within a specific domain or department. Collect feedback, optimize processes, and then gradually expand to other parts of the organization. That way you have an overview and can make timely adjustments where necessary.

7. Make use of automation

A major advantage of GRC software is the ability to automate manual and time-consuming tasks. Make optimal use of this. Automate as many standard processes, workflows, and reports as possible. This will save you time, minimize human error, and allow employees to focus on tasks with more added value.

8. Monitor and measure performance

Set KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to measure the performance of the GRC software. Monitor things like user adoption, time savings, number of risks identified, and compliance scores. Use this data to evaluate progress and adjust processes or usage as needed for optimal results.

9. Ensure continuous improvement

A GRC implementation is never done. Business risks, laws, and regulations are constantly evolving. Therefore, keep working continuously to improve and optimize your GRC processes and the use of the software. Collect regular feedback from users, analyze results, and make timely adjustments. This keeps your GRC approach up-to-date and effective.

Conclusion

GRC software is an indispensable tool for security officers. It provides an integrated platform to effectively manage governance, risk management, and compliance in an increasingly complex business environment.

You get a better handle on risk and compliance challenges by implementing the right GRC software with essential features such as risk management, compliance management, and audit management. Moreover, GRC software is valuable in achieving and maintaining important ISO certifications. It supports implementing a systematic approach that meets the requirements of standards such as ISO 27001, ISO 9001, and ISO 14001.

Also read: Everything you need to know about an ISMS

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Feel free to contact us. We would love to talk to you!

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Tips for security (risk) awareness in information security

Tips for security (risk) awareness in information security

Tips for security (risk) awareness in information security
Comments

Written by Ivar van Duuren

security island

One of the most important aspects of effective information security is security awareness – employees’ awareness and knowledge of security risks and how to prevent them.

In this article, you’ll discover more about what security (risk) awareness is, who poses the greatest risks, what measures are effective, and how to train employees in this area.

What is security (risk) awareness?

Security awareness refers to employees’ awareness and understanding of the potential security risks and threats to an organization’s information and systems. It involves employees knowing what risks exist, how to recognize them, and what to do to prevent or report incidents.

Security awareness is a crucial part of any organization’s security strategy. The goal is to create a security-aware culture in which employees proactively identify and mitigate security risks.

Examples include following security policies and procedures, recognizing suspicious activity, and reporting incidents. Strong security awareness significantly reduces the risk of data breaches, malware infections, phishing attacks, and other security breaches.

Who poses the biggest risks in information security?

While external threats such as hackers and cybercriminals certainly pose a major risk, it is often in-house employees who unknowingly cause the greatest security risks.

For example, through lack of knowledge, inattention, or failure to follow security policies. Some examples of risky actions by employees are:

  • Clicking on links or attachments in phishing emails
  • Using weak or the same passwords over and over 
  • Sharing sensitive information unsecured
  • Connecting unsecured devices to the corporate network
  • Installing unauthorized software
  • Using a digital business environment over an unsecured network

In addition to employees, executives, external partners, and even customers also pose security risks if they are not sufficiently aware of proper measures. It is therefore essential to promote security awareness throughout the organization and beyond.

Which measures are effective for increased security awareness

Organizations would do well to take the measures below to increase security awareness among employees:

1. Regular training and education

Offer employees regular training and education sessions on information security. Cover topics such as recognizing phishing, strong password management, safe use of the internet, and incident reporting.

2. Phishing simulations

Send fake phishing emails to employees to test their ability to recognize and respond correctly to them. Provide feedback and additional training to those who fall into the trap.

3. Policies and procedures

Establish clear security policies and procedures and communicate them to all employees. Make sure they understand what is expected of them regarding information security.

4. Motivation and commitment

Encourage employees to be proactively security conscious and set goals for this. Reward good behavior and create a culture where security awareness is valued.

5. Visual aid

Use posters, screensavers, newsletters, and other visual aids to remind employees to take proper security measures.

By implementing a combination of these measures, you will build a strong security awareness culture as an organization and reduce the risk of security incidents.

ISO 27001 and security awareness

ISO 27001 is the international standard for information security. This standard provides a framework of requirements and guidelines to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information. Although the emphasis is often on technical and organizational measures, security awareness is also an important part of ISO 27001.

Chapter 7.3 of the standard deals specifically with “Information security awareness, education, and training”. This states that the organization must ensure that employees are aware of the information security policy and their own responsibilities in this regard.

They must also receive relevant training and education regularly. In addition, ISO 27001 requires that the effectiveness of the awareness program be measured and evaluated.

By meeting these requirements of ISO 27001, you lay a solid foundation for all security awareness activities. It provides structure and ensures that awareness becomes a permanent part of your organization’s information security approach. Moreover, an ISO 27001 certification shows customers and other stakeholders that you take security seriously.

5 Tips on training employees on security awareness

Training is an essential part of promoting security awareness. Here are some tips for effectively training employees:

  1. Make it relevant: Use examples and scenarios that connect to employees’ daily work and risks. Show how security risks affect them personally.
  2. Keep it interesting: Avoid boring, technical presentations. Use interactive elements, games, quizzes, and hands-on exercises to keep the training engaging.
  3. Repeat regularly: One-time training is not enough. Schedule regular refresher courses and updates to keep the knowledge fresh and respond to new threats.
  4. Evaluate effectiveness: Measure employee security awareness and behavior before and after training. Use these insights to improve training.
  5. Provide support: Make sure employees know where to address questions and reports on security issues. Offer tools and support to help them implement good security practices.

Organizations can create a human firewall by training employees effectively – a powerful line of defense against security threats.

Conclusion

Security awareness is thus critical to any organization’s information security. By making employees aware of risks and training them in good security practices, you significantly reduce the risk of costly security incidents.

More tips about ISO certification?

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Everything you need to know about an ISMS

Everything you need to know about an ISMS

Everything you need to know about an ISMS
Comments

Written by Ivar van Duuren

security island

As a security officer, you have the important task of keeping information security in order. If you want to become ISO-certified for information security within your organization, setting up an Information Security Management System (ISMS) is a mandatory component.

But what exactly does an ISMS entail? What does it look like and what components does it consist of? In this article, we address these questions in detail.

What is an ISMS?

An ISMS is a systematic approach to managing sensitive company information so that it remains secure. It is a system where you record which people, processes, and IT systems are involved in the information security in your company.

With an ISMS, you identify and manage the threats your organization faces and what measures you take to minimize those threats. All in a structured way. The most basic way organizations manage their information security is in an Excel spreadsheet. However, more professional organizations use an online ISMS with integrations to SharePoint and Microsoft 365.  

The purpose of an ISMS is to ensure the confidentiality, availability, and integrity of data. You do this by implementing appropriate policies, procedures, guidelines, and associated resources and activities. Thus, an ISMS helps you systematically manage security risks and ensures that they remain under control.

Why is an ISMS important?

There are several important reasons to implement an ISMS within your organization:

  • Protect business information: An ISMS protects your organization’s confidential and sensitive data from security incidents such as data breaches, hacks, and cybercrime.
  • Comply with laws and regulations: An ISMS helps you comply with relevant information security and privacy laws and regulations, such as the AVG/GDPR.
  • Customer trust and reputation: With a good ISMS, you demonstrate that you handle data with care. This strengthens customer trust and your reputation in the market.
  • Business continuity: Incidents and disruptions caused by security problems can seriously disrupt business operations. With an ISMS, you reduce these risks.
  • Awareness and knowledge: Implementing an ISMS creates awareness and knowledge about information security within your organization.

So an ISMS is essential to protect your company’s information and systems, manage risks, and meet the requirements of customers and other stakeholders.

What’s in your ISMS?

A good ISMS consists of several key components:

1. Policies and objectives

Here you lay down what the principles and goals of the ISMS are. What do you want to achieve? Examples of information security policies are:

  • Acceptable Use Policy: Rules for responsible use of company resources such as computers, internet, and e-mail by employees.
  • Password Policy: Guidelines for strong passwords, periodic changes, and secure storage.
  • Classification of information: Categorization of data based on sensitivity, with associated access and protection requirements.
  • Mobile device policy: Conditions for secure use of mobile devices such as smartphones and laptops to access company data.
  • Data breach reporting: Internal procedures for identifying, investigating, reporting, and handling security incidents and data breaches.
  • Supplier policies: Requirements for external parties regarding careful handling of your data.

2. Risk Assessment

You identify security risks to your organization’s information and systems. How likely is it that a threat will occur and what is the impact? Some common risks are:

  • Data breaches: The inadvertent leakage of sensitive information, such as through a hack, human error, or loss of equipment.
  • Malware and viruses: Malicious software that can disrupt systems, and steal or encrypt data for ransom (ransomware).
  • Unauthorized access: Unauthorized access to confidential data or systems, whether physical or digital.
  • Internal threats: Risks caused by in-house employees, such as data theft, misuse of authority, or negligence.
  • DDoS attacks: Cyber attacks that overload systems or websites to make them inaccessible.
  • Legal and regulatory compliance: Risks caused by failure to comply with relevant legislation, such as the AVG/GDPR for data protection.

3. Risk treatment

Based on the risk assessment, determine what measures are needed to reduce risks to an acceptable level. Examples of measures that organizations implement are:

  • Access control: Systems for identification, authentication, and authorization of users, such as passwords, multi-factor authentication, and Identity & Access Management (IAM).
  • Encryption: Encryption of sensitive data, both in storage (data-at-rest) and in transmission (data-in-transit), to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Network security: Measures such as firewalls, VPNs, network segmentation, and monitoring to protect the network infrastructure.
  • Malware protection: Antivirus software, spam filters, and other solutions to prevent malware infections and propagation.
  • Patch management: Timely installation of software updates and patches to address known vulnerabilities in systems.
  • Logging and monitoring: Recording and analyzing system activities to detect anomalies and security incidents.
  • Physical security: Measures such as access control, camera surveillance, and alarms to restrict physical access to IT systems and sensitive information.
  • Awareness programs: Training and educating employees on information security to encourage secure behavior and reduce risks from human error.

4. Implementation

The chosen security measures are implemented in the organization. Consider technical solutions, but also processes, procedures, and guidelines. 

5. Monitoring and evaluation

You continuously monitor whether the ISMS is still working properly and whether the security measures are effective. Where necessary, you make adjustments.

ISMS and ISO certification

An important standard for setting up an ISMS is ISO 27001. This international standard specifies requirements for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continuously improving a documented ISMS.

Although it is not mandatory, many organizations choose to have their ISMS certified to ISO 27001. This has several benefits:

  • It demonstrates that your ISMS meets an internationally recognized standard and follows best practices.
  • An ISO 27001 certification increases the confidence of customers, partners, and other stakeholders in your approach to information security.
  • In some tenders, ISO 27001 certification is a requirement to compete.
  • It keeps you on your toes. To remain certified, you must demonstrate that your ISMS continues to meet the requirements.

So an ISO 27001 certification is not a goal in itself, but supports and reinforces the benefits of an ISMS.

Continuous improvement of your ISMS

An effective ISMS is not a one-time project, but a continuous process. By periodically evaluating risks, policies, and measures and adjusting them where necessary, you continuously improve the information security within your organization. It is crucial to increase the involvement and awareness within the entire organization.

As a security officer, do you really want to make a difference in the field of information security? Then an ISMS is the way to go. By systematically addressing risks, establishing clear policies, and taking the right measures, you take your information security to the next level. This way, you not only protect your organization’s interests but also strengthen the trust of all stakeholders.

Conclusion

An ISMS is indispensable for every security officer to properly manage his organization’s information security. Through a systematic and structured approach with policy, risk assessment, measures, implementation, and evaluation, you manage security risks and protect your organization’s interests.

Although setting up an ISMS requires effort, the benefits far outweigh that. And with an ISO 27001 certification, you also show the outside world that your information security is in order according to international standards.

 

Also read: what is GRC software?

More tips about ISO certification?

Feel free to contact us. We would love to talk to you!

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Everything you need to know about the CIA classification in information security

Everything you need to know about the CIA classification in information security

Everything you need to know about the CIA classification in information security
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Written by Ivar van Duuren

security island

Information security policies are a crucial part of any organization. It protects the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data. But how do you determine what measures are needed for different types of information?

In this article, we take a closer look at what the CIA classification means and how it relates to standards such as the BIO and ISO 27001.

The 3 aspects of information security policies

Information security policies according to the CIA classification are about ensuring three core principles:

1. Availability

Availability refers to ensuring that information and IT systems are accessible and usable when needed. Without availability, it is difficult for employees to perform their tasks, and business processes stagnate. Examples of availability problems include:

  • Outages of servers or networks that prevent employees from accessing critical applications and data.
  • Overloaded systems cause response times to slow down and prevent users from performing their work.
  • Insufficient storage capacity makes it impossible to save or access files.

2. Integrity

Integrity is about ensuring that information and IT systems remain accurate, complete, and reliable, without unauthorized changes. A violation of integrity leads to incorrect decision-making, financial loss, and reputational damage. Some examples of integrity problems include:

  • Hackers manipulate or delete data.
  • Human error when entering or processing data.
  • Hardware failures or software errors that lead to file corruption.

3. Confidentiality

Confidentiality is about protecting information from unauthorized access or disclosure. A breach of confidentiality potentially leads to loss of competition, damage to reputation, and legal consequences. Some examples of confidentiality issues include:

  • Loss or theft of laptops, smartphones, or other mobile devices containing sensitive information.
  • Careless handling of paper documents containing confidential data.
  • Hackers break into IT systems and gain access to sensitive information.

A balanced approach, treating all three elements equally, is essential for effective information security.

Determine and apply CIA classifications

To determine what security measures are needed, many organizations use the CIA classification. This involves dividing information into different categories based on the level of availability, integrity, and confidentiality required.

  • First, determine how critical the availability of information is. Does it need to be accessible at all times?
  • Next, assess integrity: how bad is it if the information changes inadvertently?
  • Finally, you look at confidentiality: may this information become public knowledge?

Based on the CIA scores, you then assign security levels ranging from basic to very strict.

  • Level 0 (basic): Public information with no significant impact if compromised. Basic security measures are sufficient.
  • Level 1 (medium): Internal corporate information with limited impact if compromised. Standard security measures are necessary.
  • Level 2 (high): Sensitive data whose compromise causes significant damage, such as financial or reputational damage. Strict security measures are required.
  • Level 3 (very high): Highly confidential information with potentially catastrophic consequences if compromised. Maximum security measures must be taken.

By classifying information, organizations can prioritize and implement appropriate security controls. This prevents both over and under-security.

CIA and ISO 27001

ISO 27001 is the international standard for information security. It provides a framework for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continuously improving an Information Security Management System (ISMS).

Although the ISO 27001 standard does not prescribe a specific CIA classification, information classification is an important part of risk management within an ISMS. Using the CIA triad gives you a better understanding of the security measures needed.

Many of the controls in ISO 27001 Annex A are related to the CIA principles. Think of access security for confidentiality, change management for integrity, and continuity planning for availability. The CIA classification helps select and prioritize the most relevant controls.

View ISO 27001 checklist

CIA and the Government Information Security Baseline (BIO)

The BIO is the basic standard for information security within the Dutch government. It provides a generic standards framework based on the internationally recognized ISO 27002 framework.

The BIO uses a risk-based approach in which the CIA classification plays an important role. Based on the CIA classification of information, appropriate security measures are selected from the BIO. The higher the CIA classification, the more stringent the controls required.

Conclusion

The CIA classification is a valuable tool for information security. By classifying information based on availability, integrity, and confidentiality, organizations get a handle on the security measures needed.

The CIA method aligns seamlessly with standards such as the BIO for government and the internationally recognized ISO 27001 standard. It forms an integral part of risk management and helps security officers to make well-considered choices in security policy.

Is your organization already working with the CIA classification? Careful classification is the first step to effective and proportional information security.

More tips about ISO certification?

Feel free to contact us. We would love to talk to you!

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3 Expert Tips to Implement ISO Standards More Efficiently

3 Expert Tips to Implement ISO Standards More Efficiently

3 Expert Tips to Implement ISO Standards More Efficiently
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Written by Ivar van Duuren

security island
When you start implementing an ISO standard, you need to think about things you need to take care of, such as scheduling an internal and an external audit. If you develop software, you may need to do a pen test to check out vulnerabilities. In addition, you need to decide which people you need (internal and external) and what the whole process will cost.

In short, plenty is coming your way. To support you in this thought process, we give you some tips on how to efficiently get your ISO certification.

1. Implement multiple ISO standards at the same time

A question we often get is whether it is advisable to implement multiple standards at the same time. For example, ISO 27001 (information security) and ISO 9001 (quality). Indeed, this is something you can do fairly easily.

After all, certain standard requirements are common in multiple standards. It is nice if you have software that can just activate such an extra standard. And that can de-duplicate the overlap between standards. Then certain standard requirements automatically apply directly to that other standard.

For example, many of our customers are dealing with the new European NIS2 legislation coming into effect on October 17, 2024. Because of this law, many more organizations than have to take mandatory measures when it comes to information security.

It is not yet entirely clear what this law will specifically prescribe. However, we do see many organizations using this legislation as an opportunity to also implement the ISO 27001 standard. Because if you have implemented ISO 27001, you are 90% compliant with the NIS2 legislation as well.

Is NIS2 relevant to your organization?

The NIS2 legislation is intended for a specific number of industries and types of organizations. There is a list compiled of these organizations and there is also a list of essential organizations from which even more is required.

Another important aspect of the NIS2 legislation is the supply chain. All organizations identified as ‘important or essential’ that must comply with the NIS 2 legislation, must also have suppliers that comply with the law.

In this way, NIS2 becomes relevant to a much larger number of organizations than just those identified as essential. So NIS2 impacts the entire supply chain.

2. Implement an ISO standard simultaneously with other organizations

Another way to work more efficiently when implementing an ISO standard is to do it together with (an) other organization(s). More and more organizations are choosing to go through a certification process in groups.

We offer such a group track through ISO Express a collaborative in which we work with several partners such as Instant 27001, PuraSec, and ESET.

This way, organizations have everything they need at hand: advice, ISMS supporting software, templates, and sample documents. An added benefit is that you can spar with security specialists from other organizations in the same situation. By exchanging experiences, you learn from each other and don’t have to reinvent the wheel alone.

3. Involve employees before, during, and after the ISO process

Many of our customers find it difficult to involve employees in an ISO project. It is often a project that runs alongside normal activities and one has to set aside extra time for it.

Nevertheless, it is essential for an efficient implementation to keep employees involved before, during, and especially long after the process. So that they are aware of everything that needs to be done. And that they can properly carry out their part in the improvements.

Deploying software that promotes cooperation

For example, with good software, you can make it possible for people to keep an overview of their tasks in a place where they are already working. For example, by scheduling tasks in an MS Outlook calendar. Or making documentation such as a code of conduct available through MS Teams. This is what ISOPlanner facilitates.

Because otherwise people who are involved and those who are not, are separate groups. You have to include the entire organization in the process and keep drawing everyone’s attention to their role and what this means for them.

Not only in the period up to certification but especially afterward. Then again, you must have the resources to do that practically and efficiently so you can keep track of all the measures you need to implement and maintain the standard.

More tips about ISO certification?

Feel free to contact us. We would love to talk to you!

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