ISO 9001 Certification, lots of reasons…
This is a common question we’re asked. This is a question you might be asking yourself right now. And it’s a GREAT question folks. The answer is simple, it depends. I know that’s not a satisfying answer, but I’ll explain as I go on.
The “Right” Reason
I say the “right” reason a little tongue in cheek. The “Right” reason is to improve your business. As a side note, getting certified always improves your business. The simple matter of fact is if an organization, such as yours, implements a good quality management system the benefits are nearly immeasurable. Some of these benefits are listed below:
- Decreasing inefficiency with good work instructions
- Eliminating down time with preventative maintenance programs
- Minimizing on the job incidents, accidents, and injuries with legal compliance for EHS related issues and good reporting measures, also feeding back into Corrective Actions. (I know ISO 9001 Certification doesn’t include these things directly, but you’d be wise to take action now)
- Employee retention and decreased turnover. If an employee feels competent to do their job, and feels they are trusted to do their job, they will do a good job for many years. Competence, Training, and Awareness programs can do so much good inside your organization. Some employers worry that if they train their employees too well, they could leave and go to the competition. For that, I’d ask you consider the old joke in the business world. Two managers are talking about training their employees. The first one asks, “Yeah, but what if we train them and they just leave? The second one responds, “What if we don’t train them and they stay?”
- Keeping the sales team in check. I apologize if you are a salesman reading this, really. When you identify your customer inputs up front, and verify that you can achieve them BEFORE taking the order, EVERYONE is much happier. As the old adage goes, crap in – crap out.
I’m rather having fun creating this list, but I’ll stop here. The benefits of Quality Management System are truly immeasurable. The end result is always happier employees and happier customers, which translates to happier owners and shareholders. Anyone knows that is a great recipe for success in your organization.
The “Often True” Reason
As I write this, I think on my years prior to certification as a QHSE manger and my life after certification. If I’m honest, and I like to think I am, there is a cost associated with certification. The first time I prepared a company for certification, I was an employee there, and we needed ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and OHSAS 18001, and we needed it within 12 months because two big customers had millions of dollars of work they would release if we got certified. And we did, ISO 9001 and OHSAS 18001 and “compliant” to ISO 14001 sufficed. This is often times the “True” reason your organization sought certification. Your customers just didn’t give you much of a choice. The costs associated are the obvious why you did not seek certification before, and some of those costs might be:
- First, at minimum you must pay a 3rd Party Registrar for your certification, and that costs time and money.
- There is a cost associated with the time it takes to write all those policies, procedures and work instructions. (You’ll be much better off once you do, you know that too).
- There is a cost in hiring a consultant (such as Texas Quality Assurance) to help guide you through the process more quickly and efficiently.
- There is a cost in monitoring and measuring the system on a regular basis to ensure folks are meeting their internal and external requirements.
Before you let the cost of getting certified get in your way, consider NOT getting certified. In my case with, it would have cost my previous company millions of dollars. You weigh these costs for your own company.
Making your organization stand out
Often times your organization needs to differentiate itself, or possibly not get left behind. This is not a bad reason to become certified, but it does present the most challenges. Be wary of pressures to “Get ISO” as opposed to developing a lasting effective Quality Management System. Its very true that sending in your Pre-Qualification paperwork to a large customer is met with MUCH less resistance when you can happily and proudly send in the PDF of your recent certification. It is also dangerous to create a surface level Quality Management System. One might think that the registrar would catch that, but not all registrars and not all auditors are created equal. That is a WHOLE other topic to address. I’ll say this much. When I was shopping registrars to get my previous employer certified, I stumbled upon one that was a fraction of the price, half the days auditing, and local. COULD NOT BE BETTER. Something smelled fishy though. So I asked for a copy of their certificate to verify their certification as a registrar. It looked good, except at the bottom, that listed the URL www.somereallyongname…..com for the accreditation body that certified them. Being an IT guy as well, I decided to dig a little bit. Seems that they created a COPY of the real accreditation body’s website, and did so poorly, like really poorly. They were 100% T-Total fake. BE WARY.
Develop a Good QMS
Regardless the reason you have thought about certification, or have been forced for internal or external pressures to seek it, we want you to know you’re headed down a great path. We also want you to know, you’re not alone in the problems you encounter along the way. On a personal note, my favorite aspect of auditing is seeing the many creative and unique ways folks have solved the same problem.
Now as you’re reading this, if you’re like me, you’re asking yourself how do you quantify “good” for a QMS? Well I’ll tell you. A GOOD QMS:
- Is built on processes. I might write a blog on this to come, but a process is defined by Inputs, Outputs, Goals, Measures, and Controls. It doesn’t matter how you skin the process map or diagram, it all boils down to these requirements. Think process minded, and you’re in a good place.
- It can adapt to changes. Customer requirements change, the Standard can change, business demands can change. If you’re having to create a 10 page MOC and update multiple documents just because your customer requirements changed for a single product, you might want to rethink the way you’ve laid our your methods of executing and monitoring your process. A great place to start though is with good top-level process procedures and multiple lower level more instructional process work Instructions or SOP’s (the name isn’t so important, the function is)
- Responsibility is defined. Nothing is more aggravating for a line level employee, or even a supervisor, to not know who to report this to or turn that into. Make it simple. The more someone has to think, the more decisions they have to make, and the more dead ends they run into, the more and more they will NOT do the work.
- Give scopes and definitions. I just completed a four day audit where this could have helped a lot. There was a lot of confusion over the differences, roles, and reporting methods for nonconformities, corrective actions, and management of change processes. There is good reason for confusion, because there is a lot of overlap, and the standard has requirements for how to handle them. The first response was to create multiple action items to meet all requirements, but that’s a waste of time to just be compliant. As the founder of Texas Quality Assurance I hate nothing more than to see folks frustrated and struggling with paperwork for the sake of paperwork. If you’re required to document something, there had better be value added in my opinion. Sometimes that requires some creativity to meet compliance and business needs.
If you can follow these principles as you develop your QMS you’re on the right track to what we like to call “Elegant Simplicity”. Its hard to complicate a process when approached in this manner.
But I digress. The question at the start of this article is “Why Get Certified”. Well you do it because you want to save time and energy as you go after bigger and better business, all while making sure your existing customers and employees are happier than ever. The end result is always higher profits, more productivity, decreased waste and more competent employees running your business.
If you need help developing your Quality Management System, or you just need an objective second set of eyes, our consultants and auditors are ready to support you in your end goals.
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