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ISO 9001 is the international standard against which the Quality Management System (QMS) of an organisation can be designed and evaluated. It is the world’s most widely used quality standard and has been adopted by business in 175 countries across the world, many of which have worked with ISO 9001 consultants to achieve certification.
The ISO 9001 standard can apply to companies of any size, in any industry or service sector. Being ‘non-prescriptive’, it describes the management outcomes that must be achieved, but does not enforce the methods or structure to be used. This is where experienced ISO 9001 consultants can streamline the compliance process. In actual fact, there are only six mandatory procedures within ISO 9001, yet it’s all too common to see small businesses being weighed-down by the burden of a poorly designed Quality Management System.
These often attempt to address every clause in the standard, many of which might be irrelevant, unnecessary or even unsuitable. A skilfully designed QMS, tailored around the specifics of a business, can produce a highly effective, easy to use yet relatively lightweight system, which is suitable for certification to ISO 9001.
Certification to the International Quality Standard ISO 9001 demonstrates an organisation’s ability to provide products and services that consistently meet or exceed customer requirements. To function effectively, an organisation must identify and manage its key activates and the links between them. The process approach at the core of ISO 9001 looks to define and document these activities as a set of processes, allowing them to be monitored, measured, assessed and improved.
Like most things, how much benefit a company derives from an ISO 9001 QMS depends largely upon how well it is implemented and maintained. A properly implemented Quality Management System based the ISO 9001 standard creates a structured process for creating organisational participation, meeting customer requirements, increasing staff motivation and customer satisfaction, and creating a culture of continual improvement.
A proactive decision to adopt the standard is often based on the wish to gain the benefits described above, with particular emphasis on some combination of them, which might be perceived as ‘areas for improvement’ within the company. Similarly, the motivation might be to gain access to new markets, such as international clients/customers, or those where ISO 9001 certification is a requirement. This approach allows the company to set its own timescale and minimise cost by undertaking training to allow staff to carry out internal audits and rely less on their ISO 9001 consultant.
In some cases though, a business might be presented with a prospective client or tender opportunity that is only open to companies that are accredited to the standard – historically these have often been large organisations such as defence, healthcare or local authority contracts, but ISO 9001 is increasingly used as a screening and prequalification tool. Rather than pass on a great opportunity, the supplier company decides to pursue ISO 9001 certification. In this case the pressure is on to implement ISO 9001 and gain certification as quickly as possible. The main hurdle to overcome in this situation is that a system ideally needs to function for 3-6 months before it is truly auditable/certifiable, i.e. with records etc filled out. This means the QMS needs to be in place absolutely as soon as possible.
Adeptus ISO 9001 consultants have a wealth of experience in assisting companies to implement and certify to management systems standards. Many companies will already have many of the elements necessary to achieve ISO 9001 certification – where this is the case, we can often utilise most of what is in place and realign it with the standard, thereby retaining current knowledge and reducing the work/time involved for all parties.
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