What are the main keys to business success? Many, of course, vary from industry to industry and according to the size of each business but there are a few commonalities: efficiency, customer satisfaction, credibility, employee engagement, continuous improvement and strong decision making. There are a variety of ways to achieve good results in each of these areas but few options can provide all of these benefits. One way to improve each of these aspects of your business as well as realise a host of other benefits is to implement ISO 9001.
If this sounds like gibberish, don’t worry. By the time you’ve read this article, you’ll have a basic understanding of what ISO 9001 is and how it can help your business.
What is ISO 9001?
ISO 9001 is an international standard that governs quality management systems. The most recent update was released in 2015 and is referred to as ISO 9001:2015.
What is a quality management system?
A quality management system or QMS refers to all the procedures and policies that govern how a business produces and delivers its products and/or services.
How does ISO 9001 impact on QMSs?
ISO 9001 is designed to ensure that all the elements of a QMS are strictly controlled in a consistent manner so that the resultant products and services meet a minimum level of quality.
What are the benefits of implementing ISO 9001 in your business?
Ultimately, implementing ISO 9001 can help you to deliver products and/or services that consistently meet your minimum level of quality provided that quality level is physically attainable by your business. It does this by ensuring that your processes are consistent and reproducible. If you implement ISO 9001 in your business you can also expect the below additional benefits.
1. Improved efficiency and reduced costs
When every aspect of your business is standardised and properly recorded, everyday processes will run more smoothly, duplication will be removed and decision making will be vastly simplified. This means everything you currently do you will be able to accomplish more quickly, cheaply and efficiently.
2. Improved customer satisfaction
When you meet your customers’ needs more quickly with dependable and consistent products and services, your customers will be much happier.
3. Improved credibility
There’s nothing like a certification to instantly improve a business’s credibility. When you achieve ISO 9001 certification, external stakeholders, clients and customers, domestically and internationally, will know that your business operates at the highest level and will trust you and your products/services more.
Businesses that aren’t ISO 9001 certified are increasingly in the minority in Australia so until you achieve compliance you will be considered sub-standard by those in the know. Furthermore, some customers and clients will not work with businesses that aren’t ISO 9001 certified.
4. Improved employee engagement
Employees are happier and more engaged when they are included in decisions and processes that are designed to improve a business. They’re also often best-placed to identify areas for improvement and test the resultant changes. When you use ISO 9001 as a framework for improvements and get your employees involved, they will know they’re contributing to a best-practice process and will be even more engaged and enthusiastic.
5. Continuous improvement
Continuous improvement is actually one of the quality management principles of which ISO 9001 is comprised. By implementing ISO 9001 you will be committing to continuous improvement and of course, this will lead to further improvements in the areas identified above.
6. Strong decision-making processes
Another of the quality management principles inherent in ISO 9001 is the need for evidence-based decision-making processes. By implementing ISO 9001 you will be eliminating any reliance on intuition and whim when it comes to decision making.
Example of how ISO 9001 could help your business
One inclusion in ISO 9001 is the ‘context of the organisation’. Being aware of issues that may affect your business’s operations is key to being able to respond to changes that may occur. A perfect example is a change in government legislation. Does your business operate within one or more pieces of legislation? If so, becoming ISO 9001 compliant could help you identify what parts of your business would be affected by a change to that legislation and then help you more quickly adapt to any changes if they occur.
Steps to ISO 9001 certification
If you decide to implement ISO 9001 in your business, a good place to start would be to get a copy of the standard. You should then assess where your business is at and what changes you need to make to become compliant. Once you’ve done that you can start preparing QMS documents and train employees in the correct use of the system. Once ISO 9001 has been implemented you can then seek formal certification if you desire.