Imagine a world without quality management systems. Companies would sell bad products without ever improving. Companies would make countless mistakes without ever learning from them. There would be constant repairs and reworking – or the customer would receive bad products or services. Costs would increase. Customers would be increasingly dissatisfied. Products could not be used as advertised, some would be dangerous to use. Think of hospital services without quality management.
Quality management leads to products and services that are as required by the customer, consistent, safe, and reliable. Quality management also leads to efficient and profitable companies. ISO 9001, an international standard brought to us by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) provides us with a reliable framework through which companies can set up their quality management system. ISO has developed 21,985 standards to help improve quality of life for people around the world. These international standards include guidelines on everything from air and water quality to road safety and hygienic medical packaging.
The ISO 9001 Quality Management Standard is the most well-known and most widely implemented standard for a quality management system worldwide.
In 2016, a total of 1,115,852 organizations had ISO 9001 certificates worldwide, with an annual growth rate of 6.9%. Interest in ISO 9001 certification has increased for good reason – the ISO 9001 quality management standard can make a significant difference for your business. Below are just a few of the benefits:
ISO 9001 is a comprehensive framework that addresses all key processes throughout the company – not just quality control. By taking such a broad view, ISO 9001 leads not only to quality products and services, but also to improved production and service provision with less rework and lower cost. From process integration to improvement, the ISO 9001 standard is all about quality processes. In fact, the current year 2015 revision of ISO 9001 focuses on the “process approach ” as a central pillar of ISO 9001. The idea is that a process-based QMS (Quality Management System) connects interrelated processes to form a cohesive whole to ensure that processes are not only managed individually but with a view towards how they affect other processes within the company.
ISO 9001 won’t give you details on all of your interconnected processes and how they individually work. However, ISO 9001 gives you the guidelines to think holistically and systemically about your processes and how they relate to one another, resulting in more effective and better integrated processes.
Good decision-making is key to business success. ISO 9001’s structured framework for quality management provides management with both information and processes for fact-based decisions that rely on evidence, not merely on gut feelings.
An ISO 9001-based Quality Management System, especially one that has been audited and certified, will have a built-in process for gathering and analyzing data. Management will gain insights into which processes are working and which ones need tweaking or improvement.
All of this will help you improve your decision-making process. Never again will you be throwing darts in the dark but charting a direction based on real, actionable information.
Customers want quality and they will reward companies that provide it. For this reason, ISO 9001-certified organizations are not only perceived as being more competent, they are paid 7% more on average than non-ISO 9001 companies.
ISO 9001 companies also post better sales growth and improved financial performance (based on return on assets). Moreover, 85% of companies with ISO 9001 certifications experienced more demand for their products or services, as well as an increase in market share.
ISO 9001 has the additional benefit in that it sets the foundation for other industry-specific standards, such as ISO 14001 (environmental management), ISO 20000 (IT service management), ISO 13485 (medical devices), and ISO/TS 16949 (automotive industry). Implementing ISO 9001 first makes the addition of other management standards rather quick and easy. This is particularly true since the 2015 revision of ISO 9001 (and other ISO standards), as all new ISO standards now use the same structure and numbering system.
In other words, what you invest in achieving an ISO 9001 certification will not only provide you with the benefits of a worldwide recognized quality management system but also with a significant reduction in required cost and time should you decide to add certification to your industry’s specific standards.
ISO 9001 certification is a clear indicator that a company is committed to quality. As ISO 9001 is the world’s most well-known quality standard, your potential customers will automatically have a better perception of your company if you can advertise your ISO 9001 certification. An ISO 9001 certification mark adds credibility to advertising and marketing.
For certain types of companies, government contracts can be a lucrative business. Unfortunately, obtaining government contracts can require a lot of hoops to jump through, starting with an involved RFP or tender process. ISO 9001 helps set your organization up for success with public sector work. And, in fact, for some municipalities and government agencies, ISO 9001 certification will be a requirement.
Not only governments but also companies tend to make ISO 9001 a prerequisite. Particularly companies that have themselves achieved ISO 9001 accreditation require the same from their suppliers. Amazon, for example, advertises their ISO 9001 compliance for their AWS business cloud services noting that “using an ISO 9001 certified provider like AWS can make your certification process easier”.
How much money does your company waste every year on rework? Repairs? Rejected products? Recalls? Outdated inventory? Warranty claims? What about the cost of lost opportunity or angry customers? By improving your quality management system with ISO 9001, you will see less and less need for rework as there will be less and less problems with your products or services. With improved operational processes, production and service provision will become efficient and error-free, resulting in reduced cost and an improved bottom line.
It’s a win/win for the business as well as its customers. This is why ISO 9001 doesn’t only benefit the company that pursues certification. It also offers tremendous benefits to customers as well.
ISO 9001 certified companies have an improved order process in place. The communication of customer orders will become smoother, misunderstandings will be avoided, and there won’t be a need to ask the customer the same questions again. These improvements not only increase operational efficiency, they also reduce friction with customers.
If your operational processes are running more smoothly and more efficiently, and your product or service quality has improved as a result, your customers will be happier. In fact, companies who have gone through the ISO 9001 certification process have reported that their customers are more satisfied. Increased customer satisfaction not only leads to increased customer loyalty, but satisfied customers are also willing to pay more: on average 7% more, as we’ve noted earlier.
The fact is, ISO 9001 certified companies are generally better at delivering quality products or services on time than companies that aren’t using this quality management system model. Certainly, some companies have developed their own in-house quality management systems without using ISO 9001. However, data shows that ISO 9001 companies overall perform better than their non-ISO 9001 counterparts.
Increased customer satisfaction and more efficient operations will both reflect positively on the bottom line, increasing value for your shareholders.
There are many frameworks for quality management systems, ranging from the general experience and gut feelings of the CEO to detailed requirements. The ISO 9001 standard is a set of detailed requirements that are proven to work. By using ISO 9001 as the framework for your quality management system, you don’t need to start from scratch and you can avoid mistakes.
Not only does ISO 9001 provide a proven framework for your company’s quality management system, it is recognized as the gold standard. ISO 9001 is the most well-known and most widely-implemented standard for quality management systems worldwide. Using ISO 9001 as the foundation for your quality management system leverages tried and true processes created, tested, and implemented by international experts and top companies worldwide.
As you can see, the benefits of ISO certification are well worth the investment in certification. So how do you get your company ISO 9001 certified?
The International Organization for Standardization does not perform certification itself. ISO is focused exclusively on developing standards, not certifying organizations in those standards. Instead, a wide variety of independent companies provide ISO certifications. You’ll likely find several international and local registrars through an internet search; you would need to evaluate them to find the ideal registrar for your company’s individual circumstances (the ISO 9001 Certification Package also includes registrar selection tools);
ISO also does not individually accredit or approve of ISO 9001 registrars. Several countries have their own accreditation boards, and registrars generally seek accreditation by one or more of those accreditation boards. Note, however, that there are companies that advertise ISO 9001 certification services without being accredited registrars. It is best to avoid those “black sheep” as an ISO 9001 certificate without accreditation mark could negatively reflect on the certified company.
How each certification process works depends on the certifying body. Typically, the certifying organization will review the applicant’s ISO 9001 documentation and visit the applicant to audit the company’s systems in order to verify that all ISO 9001 requirements have been implemented. If there are areas that are not compliant with ISO 9001 requirements, the applicant will have the opportunity to correct any deficiencies prior to the ISO 9001 certificate being issued.
Once your company has become ISO 9001 certified, you can now enjoy the benefits of ISO 9001 certification, including happier customers, increased profits, and a better reputation. Congratulations!
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