Know your certifications: What is ISO 12647?

September 24, 20194 minute read

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As an IT professional, chances are good that you’ve happened across ISO 27001. It’s one of the best-known security certifications out there, after all. But have you run into ISO 12647 before? It’s an ISO standard that specifically focuses on printing and the print industry. Here’s an introduction to what ISO 12647 is all about, why your organization might want to get the certified, and tips for obtaining the certification if you decide to pursue it.

What is ISO 12647?

In short, ISO 12647 is a set of international production standards and one of the ISO certifications that is specifically tailored to the print industry. Technological advancements in digital printing have greatly improved access to high-quality color printing, rivaling even offset printing. Printing services have embraced these innovations, which allow customers to submit more frequent updates to print jobs and complete them in shorter runs. However, with the proliferation of digital tools designed to support these processes, it has become necessary to guarantee consistent color output quality. The ISO 12647 standard was created in response to these industry changes; it is designed to ensure accurate color matching between proofs and print production.

Accordingly, ISO 12647 features international production standards for the color and transparency of printing inks, paper types (of which there are five, categorized according to weight, whiteness, and brightness), CIELAB values for specific solid tones, and tone value increase controls for each paper type and color. These carefully defined industry standards, combined with proper calibration of equipment and rigorous quality control tests, guarantee consistent high-quality output. By complying with ISO 12647 standards, a printing service can confirm to its customers that they can expect a quality product every time.

Why you might want to get certified for ISO 12647

ISO 12647 offers several benefits to print suppliers, specifically with regard to operational efficiency, consistent color matching, and reduced waste in the form of re-runs. By complying with ISO 12647, a graphic design firm, print service provider, or manufacturer that puts color to paper products, plastics, textiles, ceramics, and more, can ensure greater customer satisfaction and even increase their profits. Many customers appreciate ISO 12647 because it’s basically a seal of approval that predicts a top-quality product, regardless of the job or contracted supplier. Some larger corporate clients and government organizations even require their vendors to have ISO 12647 certification, which means that a print supplier that takes the time to get it may enjoy an advantage over the competition.

By adding ISO 12647 to its portfolio of certifications, a print service is also able to give its customers confidence that proper print security requirements have been met. Since a print environment often harbors overlooked vulnerabilities—tempting targets for hackers—becoming ISO 12647 certified can go a long way toward thwarting potential attacks on your customers’ data as well as your own.

Tips for getting certified for ISO 12647

As with any ISO standard, getting certified for ISO 12647 can take a considerable amount of legwork. Since IT teams are already grappling with a considerable workload, it can be a smart option to team up with an expert in the print industry space when pursuing this certification. That way, you can more easily prepare your organization, ensure that the qualifying requirements are met, and check that everything is in order before the audit.

Partnering with a managed print services provider can be particularly beneficial when undertaking ISO 12647 certification because the business of printing is their specialty; many of these providers are, of course, ISO 12647 certified themselves. A managed print services provider can boost print security at your organization, provide you with expert advice on how to understand your current risks, protect your devices and documents from prying eyes, address governance and regulatory compliance issues, and even adhere to industry-specific requirements.

ISO 12647 may not be as well known as its cousin ISO 27001, but it plays an important role in ensuring high color fidelity and proper security throughout the print industry. When print suppliers get certified for the ISO 12647 standard, they can simultaneously enhance their own internal efficiency, improve print security, and boost the quality of their products and services. These operational improvements can translate to increased customer confidence and perhaps even a competitive advantage over other players in the market who haven’t made the move to ISO 12647. If your company has yet to consider becoming ISO 12647 compliant, it might be worth giving this less common certification a careful look.

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