What is the ISO Quality Management Standard?
ISO 9001 is an international standard for quality management published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The ISO 9001 standard lays out a set of guidelines to establish a management system for any type of business. ISO 9001 is an amalgamation of industry best practices. The ISO 9001 Standard has been accredited by over a million organizations around the world, making it the most commonly used management tool in the world.
What Does ISO stand for?
ISO is the short name for International Organization for Standardization. International Organization for Standardization came into existence in the year 1946 in London. This organization was formed after a delegation of 65 members from 25 countries, met to discuss the future of International Standardization. In 1947, ISO was officially formed with 67 technical committees consisting of a group of experts focusing on a specific subject. ISO founders decided to give it an acronym ISO, which was based on the Greek word ‘isos’, which means ‘equal’.
Is ISO 9001 mandatory?
While some standards are mandatory – such as safety standards or product standards – the ISO 9001 is a voluntary standard. There is no legal requirement to meet the requirements of the ISO 9001 standard and it is up to the management of an organisation to decide if they wish to implement the standard within the organization. Although ISO 9001 is not a legal requirement, government bodies and large organizations are requiring their suppliers to be certified and having ISO 9001 is a pre-requisite in most, if not all, tenders.
Who needs ISO 9001 certification?
In short, organizations that want to have best business practice, win more business and gain better control.
Numerous studies have found that implementing the ISO 9001 standard resulted in superior performance and that certified companies outperformed their competition. The results of these studies confirm the feedback we have been getting from our customers; many of whom say that they were able to win new contracts and secure government tenders, as well as run their business more effectively, with the certification.
There are many benefits for adopting the ISO 9001 standard:
- Increase client confidence in your business, services and products
- Win more tenders and gain more business
- Increase operational performance
- Facilitate better communication and co-ordination in the business
- Ensure new staff are inducted swiftly and easily
- Achieve consistent level of service and product delivery
- Increase employee morale and motivation
- Support future business growth
Can any organization implement the ISO 9001 standard?
The ISO 9001 standard defines a generic set of requirements, which makes it easy to apply to any organization, whether large or small, dealing with any kind of product or service and in any industry sector. The ISO 9001 can be implemented in a small organisation with just 2-3 employees or a large multi-national organisation with offices in multiple locations and dealing with multiple products and services.
Who gives ISO certification?
ISO 9001 certification is issued by a certification body. Before applying, you will need to develop a Quality Management System that complies with the requirements of the standard. The certification body will conduct an independent audit to assess whether your Quality Management System complies with the requirements of the ISO 9001:2015 standard, and whether your business is correctly implementing the system. Following the successful completion of your audit, the certification body will provide you with a certificate which will verify that your business operations meet the requirements of the standard.
What is new in ISO 9001:2015?
The ISO 9000 standard is reviewed and updated periodically to address the changing needs of the business, technological advancement and requirements of users. The standard has undergone multiple revisions, in the years 1994, 2000, 2008 and 2015. The latest ISO standard is known as ISO 9001:2015 to denote the year of its latest release.
The major updates that were introduced to the latest ISO 9001:2015 standard are risk-based thinking, the role of the leadership team and understanding the organizational environment (both internal and external). The ISO 9001:2015 Standard also has a reduced number of prescriptive requirements than the previous versions, and hence this version is easier to implement.
What are the ISO principles?
ISO 9001 defines seven quality management principles, which are at the core of the ISO 9001 standard and guides an organization to implement the Quality Management System efficiently.
This set of Quality Management principle is generic in nature and applies to any business. Any organization that decides to work on these quality principles can achieve their desired goals and ensure customer satisfaction, which will ultimately ensure business growth and higher returns.
Let’s have a look at each one of them in detail.
- Customer Focus
Creating an environment in the organization where customer focus is given priority, is the first step towards establishing an efficient quality management system. This is a principle emphasis on understanding the needs and expectation of the customers, meeting all customers’ requirements and creating value for the customer.
It is important to ensure that the Quality Management system operates in close conjunction with business and a strong leadership team is paramount to achieve this. Leadership with a clear vision, can help in creating a unity of purpose and provide direction. A leaders’ role in creating an environment for the successful implementation of a Quality Management System is crucial.
- Engagement of people
Engaging people who are key to the success of your company is what this principle talks about. It is important that an organization hires competent people who have the required education, skills and training to deliver a service and what is required by the client. Each one of your employees should be empowered to create and deliver value and be trained to achieve their full potential.
- Process Approach
ISO 9001 has an emphasis on a process approach. This simply means that the Quality Management System is defined in such a way that describes the set of interrelated activities which operates using some inputs and provides the desired output. The process approach brings in efficiency in the system to achieve the desired results. Measurement is another important aspect of the process approach. This requires that an organization puts in place adequate measurements and controls to ensure that processes are achieving the business objectives. The processes should be consistent across the board and should ensure a predictable result.
Improvement is an important principle of the Quality Management System. ISO 9001 requires that a culture of continuous improvement should be developed within the organization. This can be achieved by organizations reflecting on their own processes, analysing data and bringing in changes in the system to improve its results. Focusing on new opportunities and taking actions to materialize these opportunities into new business makes sure that organizations progress towards growth and success.
- Evidence-based decision-making
Evidence-based decision-making, as the name suggests, requires that the management should make decisions on the basis of facts, and this should not be driven by feelings. An organization should rely on accurate and reliable data and make informed decisions.
- Relationship management
An organization needs to depend on a number of parties to deliver its products and services. This principle requires that an organization create long term relationships with all its stakeholders, suppliers, employees, customers, etc. to strive towards common goals and create value by efficient resource management.
Author: Avital Koren
Avital is passionate about small business and working with entrepreneurs. She was the first to identify and address the needs of small businesses in management systems.
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