Practice What You Preach

The Importance of External Quality Review

Michael Milligan
2 min readJan 17, 2019

How can you be confident that an organization’s products or services will consistently be top-notch? How can you ensure that an organization is focused on getting better? What’s the best way for an organization to operate efficiently and effectively?

The International Organization for Standardization, or ISO, and its certification process has become a universal measuring stick that helps address these questions for both management and its stakeholders. An organization becomes “ISO certified” only after passing a number of rigorous reviews designed to establish whether it meets the quality criteria it has established for itself.

At ABET, our commitment to quality, excellence and continuous improvement are at the core of our organization. To underscore this commitment, we put our own accreditation processes through reviews by external ISO quality experts. In many ways, it’s similar to how we review programs seeking accreditation. Since we expect our accredited programs to demonstrate a commitment to quality, we ought to as well!

ISO provides us a structure to ensure our services consistently meet the growing expectations of programs and institutions worldwide. Much like ABET accreditation, ISO 9001 is one of the most well-known and widely implemented international quality standards. As a widely recognized seal of approval, ISO certification gives our constituents confidence that we’re committed to quality.

ISO standards are based on a process approach — it ensures that we are meeting our customers’ expectations for quality by following well-defined procedures, while delivering what we promise. The ISO framework is designed to collect and analyze data, which is then used to improve performance. The quality management system (QMS) we developed during our preparation for ISO certification in 2015 enhances our ability to consistently identify new ways to grow and improve.

As a globally-recognized symbol of quality, ISO has become increasingly important as we expand our activities around the world. With more than 4,000 accredited programs at nearly 800 institutions in 32 countries, it’s important for us to hold ourselves to the highest quality standards — much like our academic partners that ensure the highest quality educational experience for their students. And we’re confident ABET accreditation is the definitive indicator of quality in STEM education.

Over 100,000 students graduate from ABET-accredited programs every year. Given the impact we have on the global workforce, it’s critical to develop and promote a quality culture. We’re proud to be part of the mere two percent of U.S.-based accrediting bodies that are ISO certified. We expect more will follow our lead and demonstrate that we practice what we preach.



Michael Milligan

Executive Director & CEO of ABET, the global accreditor of college and university programs in the STEM disciplines.