ISO 9001 certification is something a company achieves that shows it is ISO 9001 compliant in a set of guidelines first developed by the International Organization for Standardization. These guidelines were first put out in 1947, and have since been revised and updated several times, resulting in the ISO 9001 requirements in effect today.
What are the ISO 9001 Requirements?
More than 100 counties first met in 1947 to develop a set of global standards that spelled out how technology and industrial practices worldwide would work together to meet basic standards and practices to stimulate industry through principles of a quality management system. When done correctly, this yields a system of error-free products and services, as well as quality customer service.
The current version, ISO 9001:2008 is now what governs ISO 9001 certification and ISO 9001 requirements in more than 160 countries. The ISO 9001 requirements apply to every management level in a company. These guidelines help businesses design processes that guide the company’s day-to-day workings and give employees detailed instructions on how to do their jobs. This enables conformity to expected standards and ensures customer satisfaction. The system also monitors these activities and raises a concern if they are not carried out properly.
How does a company achieve ISO 9001 certification?
There are several steps in the process of a company becoming compliant with ISO 9001 requirements and getting its ISO 9001 certification. The first thing a business desiring to start this process needs to do is learn everything that they need to know about the ISO 9001 standards of operation. It is possible to look this information up on the Internet, or you can get a manual outlining the ISO 9001 requirements from your national standards association. Once you have read up on the process and are confident you understand what is to come, you can schedule a preliminary audit to see where your organization stands.
Doing a preliminary audit
Doing a preliminary audit to check how compliant your organization is with ISO 9001 requirements will let you know how much work you have ahead of you in order to get ISO 9001 certification. You need to go over the list of requirements for your particular industry and see how close you may or may not already be to those necessary rules. These will cover things like health and safety procedures, quality control standards, how you do employee training and orientation, etc.
Once you have figured out where your company stands in this process, you need to determine the people in your organization who will be spearheading any needed changes, conducting inspections, collecting and maintaining any needed documentation, and putting the actual changes in place. It is possible to get a trainer to come to your company to give classes on this process if desired by contacting the ISO 9001 officials in your area.
Get your documentation in place
When preparing your organization to become compliant with the ISO 9001 requirements, you can start with your company’s existing documentation on the processes and procedures that already are in place. Most likely the majority of these will only need some minor adjustments in order for your business to meet ISO 9001 requirements. The next step is to make any needed alterations in your existing processes and procedures for things like ordering, production, customer relations, etc. Insuring that all of these things are written up and adjusted according to the needs of ISO 9001 certification is one of the most time consuming parts of the process of getting certified.
Train your staff
Once you have made all the needed changes in your company’s existing policies and procedures to match the ISO 9001 requirements, it is time to start training your employees so they will understand the ins and outs of the whole ISO process. This is vital so that your company can pass the real audit process when the inspectors come to judge if your company is ready to get ISO 9001 certification.
Certification audit by ISO inspectors
Once you are certain that your company has made all necessary alterations and your staff and employees are properly trained, you are ready to schedule an initial audit by the ISO 9001 certification body in your area. You need to contact the ISO 9001 certification firm in your area and have them schedule the auditor to come to you and spend several hours or days (depending on the size of your business) monitoring your processes and procedures and determining if you meet the ISO 9001 requirements.
During the first audit, the auditor will make themselves familiar with your company’s policies and procedures and work to understand the company’s quality management system and how well it focuses on its customers’ expectations and the processes associated with carrying this out. The audit will determine if these are properly focused and have clear objectives and goals that meet ISO 9001 requirements. They will also do a review of your company’s QMS documents and make sure they are also compliant with these terms.
The next audit includes reviewing in detail all of your company’s records and documents that provide the needed evidence of compliance with the ISO 9001 requirements. You must be able to show these processes and procedures your company has in place provide for methods to ensure your products or services are produced in a uniform and predictable fashion, plus that they work so that the customer’s expectations are met in addition to your company’s own objectives. If not, your company will be unable to get ISO 9001 certification.
Auditors speak with managers, regular employees
These auditors will first speak with the company leaders and supervisors to ensure that they fully endorse the ISO 9001 requirements, especially to judge the validity of the corporate goals pertaining to quality management at your company. Your management staff must be in total compliance with the ISO guidelines.
Next, the auditors will watch your employees go about their daily jobs and see how well they follow these guidelines. Once done, the auditors will produce a detailed report that outlines how well your company meets with the ISO 9001 requirements. If there are any problems, they must be settled within a year of this visit, but this will not prevent your company from getting ISO 9001 certification as long as the problems are minor.
Once this is done, the auditors will put forth a recommendation for your company to either get ISO 9001 certification or be denied based on some sort of major non-compliance with ISO 9001 requirements.
Then, you will be awarded the certification if you meet the standards and issued the proper documentation to show it. The auditors will return once a year to perform surveillance audits and every 3 years a recertification audit is due.
Why is ISO 9001 Certification important?
You may be wondering why ISO 9001 certification is so vital to your company’s needs. In this Internet centric world, industry standards and respect for other businesses in other countries is vital to ensure quality management principles, the same standards for your industry worldwide, better agreements between companies worldwide and better customer service in the process. Countries that have ISO 9001 certification are setting the global standards of excellence in their niche and industry!
ISO 9001 Certification is also important because it can be applied to all different kinds of companies no matter if they are big or small or if they make medical supplies or auto parts. It helps you become more competitive and saves your company money because it sets reliable international standards of how to do business so everyone is on the same page and can work together in making a better product, have happier customers and making more money since happy customers buy more products and services.
The bottom line is that if you want your company to remain competitive worldwide in your industry or niche, then you need to get ISO 9001 certification in place as soon as possible. Don’t let this major advantage in global commerce stand in your way of making money, get ISO 9001 certification now!