It can be a tough decision to transition an existing quality management system into one that is ISO 9001 certified. After all, are there really any benefits to being certified? Does ISO 9001 actually improve quality of what an organization produces?
The ways that ISO 9001 improves upon quality all boil down to the way the standard requires you to manage and monitor your quality management system. By asking you to keep your focus on certain areas, there is a chain reaction that leads to improvement in quality. This is an improvement that lasts.
All of these things are essential to improving the functionality of your quality management system, which in turn improves the overall quality of what you are producing. Continue reading below to learn more about how these 5 things translate into improved quality.
The most recent version of IOS 9001 puts a renewed emphasis on the role leadership takes when implementing a quality management system. It requires top management within an organization to take on the responsibilities of leading the front by taking accountability for how effective the system is.
Having the commitment of top management in a transition period is essential for putting ISO 9001 into action in your organization. If everyone is not on board it could sow seeds of doubt going down the line to other employees in the company. If your leaders do not believe in the change, how can everyone else?
Passionate and dedicated leadership is a cornerstone to improving overall quality. When they take an active roll in the process it motivates others to do the same. With ISO 9001 in place there are set procedures and everyone knows their place within the system. This begins with the commitment of everyone at the very top levels of management.
Implementing ISO 9001 in your organization comes along with requirements of documentation. Perhaps the most important of these documents are your Quality Policy and Quality Objectives.
The Quality Policy is a simple but effective tool that defines what quality means for your company. There is no set way to define quality for all businesses. Your Quality Policy should be unique to your organization and build upon the values you already hold.
Your Quality Objectives should align with your Quality Policy and be actively measurable for success. They can be anything from decreasing delivery time to reducing waste. They should stay in line with the definition you outlined in your Quality Policy and make sense for your company.
With these documents you have set a structure for your quality management system to work in. By communicating your policy and objectives throughout your organization you keep everyone at all levels on the same page when it comes to what is needed of them. Every single employee should know and understand the Quality Policy and how it applies to them.
On top of that, a regular review and update of both your Quality Policy and Quality Objectives leads to finding ways to constantly improve upon the current system. The more you pay attention to what quality means to your business and your customers, the more effectively you can put it into action.
While planning out your objectives, you are likely to learn a number of things about your system. You will be able to find out what is going to be done and what resources you'll need to get it done. You'll see who will be responsible for what parts of meeting your objectives. You will know when the objectives will be completed and how they will be evaluated when they are.
The requirement to maintain these documents by ISO 9001 undoubtedly leads to a very quality oriented mindset within your organization. When everyone understands and is focused on what needs to be done to sustain top quality you can be assured that quality will be the outcome.
ISO 9001 requires your organization to employ considerations for risks and opportunities in your quality management system. This approach can help to prevent things from going wrong and find ways to improve that might not have been obvious from the start.
When you use risk based thinking you are actively trying to prevent problems within your system before they arise. This way of thinking will assure that your system functions as it should, prevent or reduce negative effects, and continually improve your system.
Risk based thinking is not only the act of looking for risks that should be attended to, but also finding opportunities to improve upon things that could be doing better. By identifying opportunities you could establish new partnerships or create new products.
By being required to take a risk based approach you have a proactive culture in your organization for discovering risks and opportunities. This leads to more consistency in creating quality good and services, which leads to greater customer confidence and satisfaction.
While there will be issues that occur in your quality management system, ISO 9001 includes requirements that help to keep these issues to a minimum as well as fix them. With a risk based thinking approach to finding issues, it is possible to correct them as quickly as possible or even prevent them.
ISO 9001 outlines three specific types of problem solving:
By implementing ISO 9001 you will have a greater focus on correcting issues and keeping them from happening again in the future. You will control and eliminate future damage within your system before it can get out of hand.
ISO 9001 requires that corrective and preventative actions are documented and kept as records. With this emphasis placed on problem solving it's easy to see how ISO 9001 can keep your quality management system running like a well-oiled machine. That way you can consistently provide quality products or services to your customers.
ISO 9001 puts a heavy focus on constantly improving your quality management system to meet requirements and even plan for the future. There are many useful ways you can improve upon your system in a way that provides evidence that things are always moving forward.
By keeping clear records on processes and their outputs you will have a good understanding of how your quality management system is functioning. ISO 9001 requires regular management reviews to go over these outputs and identify opportunities for improvement in the system.
A system can be improved by employing new technologies or launching new products. It's important to always be anticipating future needs and innovating ways to meet these needs to keep the your customers satisfied.
With such a strong emphasis placed upon improvement and a structure to constantly move forward it is impossible not to maintain the best quality for your products and services. ISO 9001 keeps your leadership on task to keep things fresh and maintain this quality no matter what.
Quality is of the utmost importance to any company interested in seeking certification in ISO 9001. The use of a quality management system is a tried and true process to provide the best products and services to your customers.
With the addition of ISO 9001 certification you are held to a certain standard and must meet requirements that keep quality at the forefront of everyone's mind. But quality isn't the only benefit that comes out of this certification.
Everyone wants to make the best decisions for their organization. Under ISO 9001 you are required to have evidence for the need of a change before implementing it. It is also easier to test changes in a smaller environment before placing them in the bigger system.
When you make decisions based on collected data rather than just suspicion, you are less likely to waste time, money, and resources on trial and error changes. Having evidence in hand gives you the confidence that change needs to be made so that you know without a shadow of a doubt whatever you are doing will be cost effective and only improve your system.
On top of decision making, by monitoring every part of the process so closely you will have concrete data of how your system is improving.
A quality management system is meant to be an efficient system that keeps your production process running smoothly. While it's entirely possible to have an efficient system without being ISO 9001 certified, the addition of the standard can aid in keeping it that way.
Because ISO 9001 outlines specific requirements for certification, you are held to the standard that it sets out. If you don't keep up with all of the requirements you could risk losing your certification altogether. But having these guidelines in place certainly helps your organization keep focus on efficiency.
Once you have your quality management system set up under the ISO 9001 standard you will find that keeping it to that standard will be easy. The requirements help to keep all of your documentation in order as well as aid in identifying areas that need to be improved.
ISO 9001 creates a system that is easy for anyone to run. Everything is already set in place for them, so you don't have to worry about new management coming in. There is easy access to all documents and everyone knows their place in the process. Losing on piece of the puzzle won't result in the collapse of the entire system.
The importance of leadership commitment translates into a higher morale for all employees working within the system. When their management is passionate and communicates that passion to them, they will be more excited to be part of the change.
ISO 9001 places defined roles and responsibilities for all employees in the production process, which makes them feel more comfortable and confident in their work. It also provides a structure for training and ensures company wide involvement so that all employees feel included in the system.
When your employees are happy they do better work which leads to greater production. All of this amounts to higher customer satisfaction with your product.
Having a certification in ISO 9001 is a sort of badge of honor that shows your organization is committed to quality. It also proves that your company is regularly evaluated by an independent party to ensure you are meeting the requirements of the standard.
Because your customers know you are held to this standard they are likely to be more confident in the quality of your products. Most people are happier to put their trust in a company that holds themselves to a high standard and can show proof that they meet that standard.
One supporting document that can help you to realize the benefits of ISO 9001 is ISO 10014. This document outlines quality management guidelines for realizing financial and economic benefits under the requirements of the ISO 9001 standard.
ISO 10014 requires heavy involvement by top management and works along with IOS 9004 to improve the performance of your quality management system. It shows examples of achievable benefits and gives you the tools to realize them.
The document provides a plan-do-check-act style approach to each of the seven quality management principles and lists activities for each stage. It also includes a gap checklist evaluation tool which gives recommendations for self-assessment within your organization.
The economic benefit of implementing ISO 9001 comes from the improved processes that it employs. These processes generally result in better resource management, better customer relationships, and improved worth of an organization.
The financial benefit is the direct result of organizational improvement and cost-effective management practices.
Cost reduction is perhaps one of the best ways ISO 9001 can benefit your company and aid in financial success. By implementing ISO 9001 in you quality management system, you can see savings in a variety of areas.
At the outset, implementing the transition to ISO 9001 is a big deal, but with such benefits in mind it's hard to disagree with its effectiveness.
ISO 9004 works alongside the standard requirements of ISO 9001 and gives guidelines for sustaining success in your quality management system. While ISO 9001 provides the framework for managing your processes in your system there is always room to improve them down the line.
Using the seven quality management principles, ISO 9004 gives you guidance to achieve sustained success by considering the quality of your organization. It defines quality by the degree to which the characteristics of your organization fulfill the needs and expectations of its customers.
Improvement of you company's overall performance is the focus of the guidance provided by ISO 9004. It includes planning, implementation, analysis, evaluation, and improvement practices. Like other documents in the ISO 9000 series it places emphasis on top management involvement in order to achieve sustained success.
Regardless of the size or scope of your organization, ISO 9004 can be used to achieve long term success by taking a quality management approach. This document pushes self-assessment as a key component to reviewing the level of your organization and provides a framework for identifying strengths and weaknesses.
ISO 9004 expands on ISO 9001 by addressing the needs and expectations of all interested parties within your quality management system. It also provides guidance for continual improvement of your organization's overall improvement.
If you are looking to get the greatest benefits possible from ISO 9001 then ISO 9004 is an invaluable resource. It will help you to maintain the success of your established quality management system and sustain it far into the future.
It can be hard to see at first how exactly all of the requirements of the ISO 9001 standard can possibly translate into better quality products. It is a lot to take in and requires a lot of work on your part to establish a quality management system that meets the standard.
By putting focus on certain areas of your business and requiring you to monitor things in a certain way, ISO 9001 leads to improved quality within your organization. Emphasis on leadership involvement, prevention, correction, and improvement ensures that your quality management system is producing only the best of what your customers require.
Improved quality isn't the only benefit you can expect to see from ISO 9001.
It's clear to see that putting the requirements of ISO 9001 into practice for your organization leads to a wide array of benefits for your organization. If you are looking for a way to improve on quality as well as prove you are committed to quality, ISO 9001 is the best place to start.
Written: 28th July 2019
Author: Richard Keen
Richard is our Compliance Director, responsible for content & product development.
But most importantly he is ISO's biggest fanboy and a true evangelist of the standards.
Learn more about Richard