ISO 9001 is the internationally recognized standard for Quality Management Systems (QMS) which is applicable to any organization from all types of business sectors and activities. It is the most widely used QMS standard in the world, with over 1.1 million certificates issued to organizations in 178 countries.
What is ISO 9001?
ISO 9001 provides a framework and set of principles that ensure a common-sense approach to the management of your organization to consistently satisfy customers and other stakeholders. In simple terms, it provides the basis for effective processes and effective people to deliver an effective product or service time after time.
ISO 9001:2008 certification has been in place for over a decade now and is used by both customers and companies as a method of controlling their quality. The Standard provides a framework to manage your business and ensure a philosophy of continual improvement in all aspects of your business. It is externally assessed on an ongoing basis to ensure these business practices are maintained.
ISO 9001:2008 is based on eight quality management principles (all fundamental to good business practice). When fully adopted, these principles can help improve your organizational performance:
- Customer focus: organizations depends on their customers, and therefore need to shape activities around the fulfillment of market need
- Leadership: is needed to provide unity of purpose and direction
- Involvement of people: creates an environment where people become fully involved in achieving the organization's objectives
- Process approach: to achieve organizational objectives, resources and activities need to be managed as processes, with an understanding of how the outputs of one process affects the inputs of another
- System approach to management: the effectiveness and efficiency of the organization depends on a systemized approach to work activities
- Continual improvement: adopting this as a part of everyday culture is a key objective for an organization
- Fact based decision-making: effective decisions are based on the logical and intuitive analysis of data and factual information
- Mutually beneficial supplier relationships: such relationships will enhance theability to create value.
Why is ISO 9001 a Good Idea For Your Organization?
The benefits of ISO 9001 are not overstated; companies large and small have gained great benefits from using this standard by discovering cost and efficiency savings. Here are the explanations of six main benefits and why they are important:
- Improvement of your credibility and image – Because ISO 9001 is an internationally recognized standard, it has become the basis for creating a quality management system around the world, replacing many previously published requirements. When a company is looking for a supplier, it is often a requirement to have a QMS based on ISO 9001 in order to be considered. This is particularly the case if you are competing for public sector jobs in many countries. Attaining ISO 9001 certification can be a powerful marketing tool.
- Improvement of customer satisfaction – One of the quality management principles that are the foundation of the ISO 9001 requirements is to improve customer satisfaction by planning for and striving to meet customer requirements. By improving your customer satisfaction you will retain more repeat customers since happy and satisfied customers are the key to keeping customer loyalty. And such customers bring in additional revenues.
- Better process integration – By looking at the overall process interactions through the process approach of ISO 9001, you will be able to more easily find improvements in efficiency and cost savings. This is done through eliminating the waste that can occur when processes are maintained without a view of the inefficiencies that can arise during process handoff. The better process flow can also be used to drive efficiencies towards fewer errors and resulting reworks, which can improve cost savings.
- Improve your evidence for decision making – A second quality management principle of ISO 9001 is the need to use evidence-based decision making. By driving your decisions based on the evidence, rather than on “gut feelings,” you can be more focused on applying resources to the areas that will improve efficiencies and increase cost savings with less trial and error to find the right decision. In addition, by monitoring the process you are improving, you will be able to see how much improvement has happened based on the data.
- Create a continual improvement culture – Continual improvement is a third quality management principle of ISO 9001. By adopting this culture to improve your processes and organizational output, you will find efficiencies and cost savings, including the use of systematic processes when problems occur in order to reduce the impact of the problem and increase the speed of recovery. By making this continual, improving year after year, the company can see continuing benefits from this.
- Engagement of employees – Employees who are involved in the improvements of the processes they work with are happier and more engaged employees. Who better than the people working on the process to best identify the areas that need improvement, and to help to test and advance these improvements when they are implemented? Engaged employees are more productive and will help the company better improve and save, especially when they understand how the quality of the process depends on them.