What is ISO 9001 and Who Is It For?
ISO 9001 is part of a family of international Quality Management System standards (QMS), first published in 1987 by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The standards are designed to help organizations ensure they are providing products and services that meet the needs of their customers, as well as maintaining the regulatory requirements of their products or services.
ISO 9001 specifically deals with the requirements an organization must fulfill to meet the standards and become certified, and can benefit any sized organization in any industry. Currently, more than one million organizations have applied ISO 9001 standards to their quality management systems.
A plan-do-check methodology is used to record and review the required structure, responsibilities of management, and procedures needed to achieve and maintain an effective QMS.
What Are the Benefits of Being ISO 9001 Certified?
Some of the greatest benefits of becoming ISO 9001 certified include increased customer satisfaction and financial gain.
ISO 9001 helps build a solid foundation that can support staff and customers in any size organization. It determines areas of responsibility throughout an organization, encourages time saving processes and reduces costs through continual improvements in areas of inadequacy. The Clark County School District in Nevada, saved $174 million dollars over a 10-year span from successfully utilizing the training, communication and efficiency the ISO 9001 provides.
Customer satisfaction has been shown to increase with improved quality of goods and services and on-time deliveries, which equate to fewer returns and complaints. Since an independent audit is required to become certified, customers see a commitment to quality, growing business credibility. A 2011 survey from the British Assessment Bureau showed that 44% of their organizations gained new business after becoming certified.
What Are the Steps to Get ISO 9001 Certified?
The certification process itself requires implementation of the ISO 9001 requirements and completion of a registrar’s audit, to prove those requirements have indeed been met. Most prepared organizations can expect to achieve certification within 3 to 6 months.
Obtain a certification application, understand the certification requirements, and identify initial and reoccurring costs to maintain the certification. Inform employees and executives to ensure organization-wide support.
Develop a Quality Management System (QMS) based on ISO 9001 requirements. This includes a project schedule, manual and quality procedures among other forms, records and instructions needed for compliance.
Implement your QMS, give formal training to all staff members and review your QMS through an internal audit. Then send a copy of your QMS to the registrar to be reviewed. The registrar is an independent entity that sends the auditor and issues the certificate – make sure you use an accredited company.
An on-site audit will be conducted to ensure your QMS is of good quality and is being used properly. If the auditor finds no significant problems with your QMS, your organization will obtain it’s ISO 9001 certification.
Maintain your certification with a series of periodic and yearly internal audits. An annual or bi-annual surveillance audit will be conducted to verify compliance, and recertification is required every three years.
The process of obtaining an ISO 9001 certification can be a long and tedious one, but the benefits your business will receive financially and structurally will well outweigh the undertaking.