ISO 9001 is one of the most elite programs around in its field. It is the international standard for a quality management system, otherwise known as a QMS. There are many great reasons why a company would want a certification from this program.
Can an individual be ISO 9001 certified? The short answer is no, one person cannot become certified in ISO 9001. Rather, a company or organization is what is eligible for the certification. However, a person can become certified as a lead auditor through a training course that is provided.
There are a few certification possibilities for individuals. One certification allows an individual to become an auditor for a certification body, while the other two individual certifications are primarily for use within that individual’s company.
The first kind of certification, which allows the individual to work as an auditor for a certification body is the ISO 9001 Lead Auditor Course. The object of this course is to give the individual a comprehensive understanding of the ISO 9001 system and standards. The course culminates in an exam to verify the individual’s knowledge of ISO.
This certification typically takes 4-5 days to complete, and must be completed through an accredited course in order for the individual to be qualified to become an auditor for a certification body.
The other two kinds of certification are geared specifically for use within the individual’s company. These can be invaluable to employees who will lead internal audits and want to add a marketable skill to their portfolio.
The first of these certifications is the ISO 9001 Internal Auditor Course. This certification takes roughly 2-3 days and larger mirrors the Lead Auditor Course. The main difference being that the Internal Auditor Course does not require an exam for competency at the end.
The final certification for individuals is also designed for internal use. The ISO 9001 Awareness and Implementation Course is comprised of a suite of trainings and courses designed to build a more in-depth knowledge of the ISO process and how to implement it. These courses can be a useful tool for employees whose company is just starting the process of becoming ISO certified.
Based off of the Lead Auditor Course, these trainings are more specific in scope, and can be a much more economical option for employees that are only involved at the beginning stages of the process.
Each of the individual courses and certifications are a great way to improve your resume and gain a valuable base of knowledge on a widely used and valued system.
Preparation is key - or the process itself can become quite confusing. You will need to document all the ISO 9001 requirements in your Quality Management System and ensure that they are embedded within your companies processes. Then, a recognizable certification body must be brought on board in order to audit and approve the QMS; as meeting the standards set out by ISO 9001.
One of the first things you should do is layout the steps ahead of you. Preparation is key in anything and is no different when it comes to ISO 9001 certification. Once you’ve established a plan, the vision you have will become much clearer.
Also, it will take away many unnecessary stresses you may have had along the way that would result from little to no planning. Planning may not always be the most exciting step, but it sure is one of the most important.
Next, you’ll want to see just how much you can benefit from having ISO 9001 implemented into your business or organization. There are several different ways that the system can be of help, which we’ll cover in more detail in just a bit.
For now, though, you should know that ISO 9001 can do the following:
There is even more that can be offered from the system, but as you can tell, ISO 9001 truly is the ultimate system for improving nearly any aspect of your business that you can think of.
There are quite a few different paths you can take to go into your certification process. Each path has its benefits that it can provide you and really it all depends on what your company or organization needs.
Templates can be the best path to go down for smaller businesses, or those just looking to start their journey. These kits are relatively inexpensive, and you do not have to have any type of prior experience.
Consultants are a great way to become certified as well. They can be:
For a hands-on consultant, the cost will much higher compared to something as the kit, as mentioned earlier. For a hands-off consultant, the cost is a bit less and has a large focus on internal operations.
As you can see, the documentation process is quite a bit to take in. This can either be done through your personal company, or you can also check into hiring an outside source as such as a consultant to help you with this process.
After the document stage is successfully completed, there is a bit of another long stretch that is to be completed. One of the first steps after completing the documentation is the internal audit, which will check the QMS processes that are in place.
This is to be positive that the processes and records are in line with the system. Also, this process will scan to check for any issues and/or weaknesses that could affect your system.
When issues arise, you’ll need to understand both how they came to be and how the problem was ultimately solved. This should be done directly after the internal audit is completed.
You’ll also want to make sure that you have your management formally inspect and review the system processes. This is to ensure that the proper choices are made and that resources get assigned accordingly as well.
This is the home stretch of the certification process. The first part of this is where your documents, as we mentioned above, are reviewed thoroughly. This is done by auditors and is done to make sure that everything meets system requirements.
The next and final step is the last audit. This is to make sure that everything that has been done is within the guidelines of the ISO 9001 system. This is done in several ways, including a review of your documentation, practices done by the company, and more.
Once this is done, you’ll be well on your way to seeing tremendous benefits come from being officially certified with ISO 9001.
ISO 9001 provides many reasons as to why a certification in the system is great for any type of company or organization.
No matter the size of your business or the amount of time it has been running, ISO 9001 can be a serious benefit. It specifically molds to your needs and is a great choice for anyone looking to grow.
This also is primarily a benefit for those companies or organizations that are just now getting on their feet. It is a great tool for finding a consistent stream of success at an early time period where most would struggle.
Customers are ultimately what keep businesses running. Whether you are a small grocery store or as large as Wal-Mart, the consumers are what keep profits a reality. Without that, a company will diminish at a rapid pace.
With that said, I think it is universally known that it is crucial to make sure that your consumer base is satisfied. ISO 9001 has a large focus on this area and provides many paths in order to improve in this field.
The ultimate goal from any company is to, of course, have financial gain. Making money is always the objective and ISO 9001 does a great job of improving any business in that category. The certification alone acts as a great advertisement for partners and consumers.
The certification can open up new doorways that would have been once closed off from not having been verified.
Often times, consistency is one of the hardest aspects of running a business or organization. Ups and downs are a part of everything in life and can become one of the hardest obstacles to face in business.
With consistency, it ensures long-term success and a continued plan for customer and partner satisfaction and larger profit margins.
Having the ISO 9001 system implemented provides a professional structure and environment that simply cannot be matched, it gives motivation to your employees and management, as they are able to see the bigger picture for what they are working towards.
One of the best benefits perhaps is improved efficiency. Getting rid of unnecessary costs and other wastes really “cleans up” a company’s structure and helps improve it’s the overall image to the public and the employees.
Not only will it save money, but it will also improve the overall flow of how things operate internally. This usually comes with tasks being completed more quickly as well, which is always a plus.
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