Posted on: April 25, 2023
Author: Randall Bowman
Continuous Improvement Through Accreditation image

Continuous improvement is key to a successful organization, but it often becomes a topic people talk about and never actually do.  It’s like exercising – everyone knows it’s good for you, but most don’t bother to commit to really doing it properly.

So what’s the secret to committing to this process?

One of the best ways to successfully implement continuous improvement into an organization’s culture is to undergo accreditation.

Accreditation ensures that the organization meets a standard by:

  • Revealing an organization’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Creating pathways for making necessary improvements
  • Improving scalability
  • Giving the organization a competitive edge

Keep reading to learn how this useful tool can be used to continuously improve your organization.

Determine Which Standard Best fits your Industry        

Before you can accredit, you must first choose the standard to which you want your organization to be held. Choosing the correct established standard to evaluate your organization can be a challenging task. There are numerous standards to choose from, and each one has its own set of requirements and criteria. Here are some ways that will help you determine which established standard is best suited for your organization:

  1. Research available established standards

There are many established standards available, such as ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standards, industry-specific standards, and government regulations.

The first task is to determine which standards are relevant to your organization and its goals. Look for standards that have been widely adopted in your industry or sector and have a track record of success. You can also consult with industry associations, regulatory bodies, or other organizations to get recommendations for established standards.

  1. Evaluate the requirements and criteria of each standard

Are the standards suitable for your organization? Determine if they are compatible with your organization's operations, culture, and goals by considering:

  • The scope of the standard
  • Specific requirements
  • The evaluation process
  • The resources required to implement and maintain compliance with the standard

Some standards may require significant investments of time, money, and staff resources to achieve compliance, while others may be more straightforward to implement. Make sure your organization’s resources are aligned with the standards you choose to ensure a successful evaluation process.

  1. don’t limit your organization

While the standard you choose should align with your organization’s resources, it doesn’t mean that you can only choose one!

Many organizations choose to adopt multiple established standards to ensure comprehensive coverage of different aspects of their operations. For example, an organization might use one standard to evaluate its environmental impact and another to evaluate its financial performance.

Seeking Accreditation

Once you’ve chosen the standard (or standards) that best fits your organization, verification from an accrediting body will help you demonstratively prove that your organization aligns with the standard. 

The accreditation process will likely review the organization's policies, procedures, and processes, and conduct an evaluation of its performance against the established standard.

Although it can be rigorous, accreditation helps organizations identify their strengths and weaknesses, which can then be used to focus on the areas where improvement is most needed.

Using accreditation as a tool for ongoing improvement

It's essential to view accreditation as a tool for ongoing improvement, rather than as a one-time event. By identifying an established standard for your organization, finding an accrediting body to help you adhere to those standards, and using that accreditation as a tool for ongoing improvement, organizations can make continual, meaningful changes that will better meet the needs of their stakeholders and help them achieve their goals.

Accreditation is not something that successful organizations do once and forget about. It's a strategic process that is integrated into the organization's ongoing operations, thereby allowing the organization to perpetually improve, grow, and succeed.

About the Author


As the Vice President of Technology for the International Association for Continuing Education and Training Randy is responsible for overseeing and implementing the technological solutions necessary to achieve the strategic and operational goals of the Board of Directors.

With over 20 years of experience as a full-stack developer, providing software and IT solutions within the non-profit and government verticals, he is an expert in the design, development, and implementation of membership management systems, focusing on tightly integrating technology platforms for associations.

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