These days it’s imperative for a business to look after existing customers, fulfilling repeat orders while looking for new clients to grow your business further. This happens only if the quality of their products and services appeals to the buyer. However, with people demanding an assurance about the quality even before they buy the product or service, the situation was more of a Catch 22 type, until businesses started adopting ISO 9001 standards.
An Introduction to ISO 9001
Internationally recognized, ISO 9001 is a Quality Management System. ISO 9001 being the title of a document outlining the requirements an organization must maintain in their quality system for ISO 9001 certification. Although the ISO 9000 family of standards has several documents, the ISO 9001:2008 (soon to be replaced by ISO 9001:2015) is the only one requiring certification.
While ISO 9001 does not define the actual quality of the products and services a business produces, the standard does help to achieve consistent results and continual process improvements. Therefore, if an enterprise already makes good products or services most of the time, ISO 9001 helps it to do so all the time – by ensuring it follows good business practices.
How Does ISO 9001 Impact Resources?
Business processes are most affordable when carried out in-house with internal resources. Some activities may require use of external resources, but involving employees and staff is necessary to a varying degree. While it is possible to meet the basic requirements of ISO 9001 by using pre-formatted material for documentation and training, it will be necessary to tailor them to a specific situation. A quality management system such as the ISO 9001 does not add unnecessary paperwork, but makes all references clear, comprehensible and highly usable.
Who Needs ISO 9001?
When a business follows the ISO 9001 quality management system or QMS through to certification, apart from reaping the benefits of becoming accredited, it also has the opportunity of streamlining its business practices for maximum efficiency.
ISO 9001 helps to make performance easily measurable by making areas for further improvement easily identifiable. This happens through continual reviews of business practices carried out throughout all levels of the organization.
Customers, both existing and potential, find assurance in the knowledge that the enterprise they intend to do business with confirms to a defined set of standards bearing international recognition. With ISO 9001 standards covering quality, safety, reliability, environmental friendliness, efficiency and interchangeability, customers have the assurance of a consistently high level of service from the accredited company.
Accreditation to ISO 9001 indicates an organization is conscientious, efficient and well run. It is a testimony to the organization taking the issue of quality seriously at all levels of operation, both internally and externally.
Implementing ISO 9001 quality management system within the organization leads to almost unlimited benefits. Some of these advantages are:
- Re-enforced mission statements and guiding frameworks supporting current practices provide employees with clear directions serving to reduce chances of mistakes, thereby reducing expensive reparatory time.
- Reduction in the margin for error ensures the system delivers consistent goods and services that lead to a noticeable improvement in the business performance.
- Increased motivation of the workforce generates a marked improvement and enhancement to business management.
Businesses experience several external benefits also by implementing the ISO 9001 quality management system. Some of these are visible when the business is:
- Tendering for new contracts – increases the chances of success
- Applying to be a favored contractor – supporting your case
- Competing for business – tremendous advantage over those without ISO certification
- Enhancing the company’s professional status within the specialized area
- Retaining existing customers – ensuring a higher retention rate
- Paying company insurance premiums – helps in reducing premium rates
Association with such a highly respected institution leads to a series of benefits that serve to increase the company’s profitability through a gain in reputation, overall wastage reduction and improvements in the quality and efficiency of business practices.
Major Benefits of Achieving ISO 9001 Certification
Although there are several reasons why your organization should strive for ISO 9001 certification, the main benefits are as listed below:
- Meeting The Requirements of the Customer
Today most customers insist on dealing with only those businesses who are ISO 9001 certified. By embracing the concept of quality through continual improvement, your organization can keep the customers satisfied and wanting to come back repeatedly.
- Getting More Business and Revenue from Potential Customers
Armed with your ISO 9001 certification, you have the advantage of advertising the quality certification and responding to RFOs or request for quotes from companies who insist on ISO certification. Your ISO 9001 certification opens up new markets where you would probably be unable to transact without a certification.
- Improving the Company and the Quality of its Product & Services
By adopting a Quality Management System, you are actually improving the quality of the entire organization. With a well-designed and effectively implemented ISO 9001 Quality Management System, your organization will improve not only its processes but also that of every product and service.
- Increasing Customer Satisfaction
By improving processes and the quality of your products and services, you will be meeting not only the stated expectations of your customers, but also that of their implied requirements. You will have far fewer customer complaints and be able to resolve those you do in a better way. A quality management system, when working correctly, will help you to know the expectations of your customers and in meeting them, thereby increasing the satisfaction of your customers.
- Understanding, Describing and Communicating the Processes of Your Company
The ISO 9001 standard prepares you for managing and controlling your business processes in a better way, because you have to identify and describe your processes using business metrics. With metrics, you can understand and communicate the performance of your system relative to your quality objectives that form the center of your system. You actually learn more about your business when making an honest attempt to confirm to the requirements of ISO 9001 certification.
- Improving the Employee Morale and Developing a Professional Culture
Quality objectives and job descriptions in your QMS empower your employees by providing them more clarity on your expectations from them. Procedures and work instructions give them the proper tools to do their jobs in a better way and process metrics give them prompt and actionable feedback on their performance. As a result, staff is more professional, resulting in an improved company culture.
- Improving Operational Consistency
By increasing the control and reducing the variations in your processes, you are actually improving the operational consistency of your business. Your customers can expect your products and services will offer consistent performance.
- Improving the Focus of Management and Employees
With the right quality objectives, metrics and procedures, an ISO 9001 QMS arranges to keep the focus of both the management and the employees on business goals alone. This happens with periodical but regular self-process audits, internal audits and registration (including surveillance) audits. These audits provide the objective feedback necessary for correcting any deviations from the path of quality and business goals.
- Improving Efficiency, Reducing Waste and Saving Money
The ISO 9001 QMS stresses on continual improvement. With a well-run QMS, your organization approaches perfection with improvement in processes and more consistency while you achieve target objectives with greater regularity. With tangible results, you decrease process waste and consequently, improve system efficiency and reduce expenditure.
- Achieving International Recognition for Quality
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO), based in Switzerland, administers the worldwide standard ISO 9001. Presently, ISO 9001 is in use by several million organizations around the world. Therefore, obtaining ISO 9001 certification puts your company in a select group, internationally recognized for quality.