Achieving ISO9001 certification is about proving to customers, suppliers, employees and your competitors that you are serious about striving for excellence and continuous improvement to your business.
There are possibly two main motives which would direct you to choose to undertake ISO9001 certification:
1. You want a structure of working processes in place for your business to provide a solid set of principles to work from.
2. You are hoping to apply and qualify for tenders for large organisations such as a government body or the education sector and achieve approved supplier status.
Whatever situation leads you into applying for ISO9001, ISO certification is a long-term commitment but of great benefit to your organisation. If you are contemplating ISO9001 certification, the following advice may help you.
Do your Preparation
If you already have some processes in place, plan out the main steps of the process in a flow chart style. Next to each step write down the person or department who has responsibility for making that part of the process happen and any records or documentation you keep to show this part of the process has been done.
Remember the circle of continuous improvement – PDCA
The main principles of Quality Management follow the four step circle model. The circle never ends – hence you will always make continual improvement to your processes.
P-LAN – identify and analyse the problem or aspect of the business that requires improvement.
D-O – examine how this could be improved, try and test the best solution.
C-HECK – how effective was the test solution? Could it be improved at all?
A-ACT – employ the improved solution
Get an Impartial Opinion
It can save a great deal of time and unnecessary trouble to reach certification stage if you seek out an independent quality advisor/auditor to help you put together your quality manual and process diagrams. A fresh pair of eyes looking over your business and internal processes can help you realise straight away how areas could be improved and you will benefit greatly from the guidance and experience of someone who does quality management for a living.
Complete the Training
To comply with the ISO 9001 standard and to effectively review and update your quality management system, you will be required to carry out regular internal audits of your quality system and hold periodic quality management meetings. It is a good idea to complete ISO9001 training, either an introduction to the standard course or an internal auditor training course to give you some basic knowledge of the ISO9001 standard, prepare you for performing effective internal audits and give you some idea of the areas of assessment your accrediting body will carry out on your management system.
Malcolm Swift is a Quality Management Consultant writing articles on Quality Management, he is an advocate of ISO9001 training.