What is the ISO 9001 Management Standard?
ISO 9001 is an international management standard created and published by ‘ISO’, otherwise known as the International Standards Organisation. According to ISO…
“A ‘Standard’ is a document that provides requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose”.
In simple terms, a management standard is a document that sets out the current operational parameters for successfully and effectively managing a business. In response to the requirements of the system, you align your own business systems to meet those requirements. Thus, ISO Standards are set systems against which you design your business to improve and develop in a consistent way. Each standard sets the requirements you have to meet to ensure you continuously improve your business.
To get started with an ISO Standard, take a ‘snapshot’ of your business. Next, you set out your organisational goals. Then, from that starting point, you develop simple operating procedures and document them. From there, you now have set your own statement of your current position. That is what you can use to improve upon. Then, as you go along, you check your systems, gather data about them – then make informed decisions upon them. In other words, check what you are doing, improve it, check again, make further improvements. Consequently, you get into a cycle of improvement.
The core of a business is management
Most ISO Standards relate to technical product compliance. However, the most popular standards have proved to be the management-related standards. After all, they are at the core of creating an effective business. Good management sets the tone for improvement in all other aspects of the business. So, the most important ISO standards work toward good, consistent management. The most widely recognised management standard is ISO 9001. There are over 1 million organisations worldwide certified to that Standard.
Constant vigilance to achieve ISO 9001
The ISO 9001 title is “Quality management systems – Requirements”. That Standard can be used by your own Organisation, and external parties, to monitor and raise your own standard of management. From the outset you have a set of documents you have written that tell everyone, “This is how we do things here”. That means, your personnel work with your ISO 9001 documents to check compliance with the requirements. If you do, you will also comply with the need to check your own operation and to improve it when problems arise. This is a great benefit to your business because you gradually, progressively and consistently sort out glitches, customer problems and operational issues.
These glitches and other issues are faced by every growing business. However, ISO 9001 shows you how your systems can get past those problems to achieve further growth. You constantly look for problems and possible improvements as a requirement of the ISO 9001 Standard. The search for problems is a part of the Standard called Auditing. More on that later. Subsequently, after setting up audits, you can expect a return on your investment in your management system as you fix the glitches and get better at what you do.
ISO 9001 external assessment and certification
Another important aspect of the system is independent monitoring. Your ISO 9001 documentation provides you with your identified standards. However, it also enables external parties to be able to come in and check you are doing what you say you are doing. That is really useful in two ways. First, it enables you to prove to customers that you have safe, reliable, consistent and effective management showing continuous improvement. Secondly, it provides a way for external assessors to be able to check you meet the international standard itself, and to point out problems to help you improve. That cross-check makes your business comparable with other businesses globally.
External Assessors come from Certification Bodies. They assess the Organisation’s ability to meet the customer, statutory and regulatory requirements applicable to its products and/or, services as well as the organisations own requirements. Certification Bodies, in fact, also award the ISO 9001 Certificate. So, the external assessors are able to provide the certificate that shows your customers that you are quality organisation which aims to continuously improve.
“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things”.
~ Peter Drucker
ISO 9001 clarifies so much?
Every organisation needs to meet its legal and Customer requirements consistently to survive. Hopefully, good management and appropriate decisions will also lead it to flourish long-term. ISO 9001 significantly assists this by:
- Clarifying and communicating organisational goals, targets and commitments.
- Establishing clear leadership roles, reporting lines and responsibilities.
- Ensures relevant, current information availability to the right people.
- Clear ordered & documented processes & procedures implemented by competent personnel.
- Establish data and monitoring systems for good record keeping and fact-based decision making.
- Monitoring operations against the organisations targets and aims.
- Identifying issues and implementing improvements.
- Updating systems, procedures and documentation to ensure improvements become the new baseline.
- Ensure training is carried out at all levels of the organisation.
- Externally checked by Assessor from a Certification Body like BSI or NQA or TUV.
How does ISO 9001 achieve these things? The ISO Standard provides the requirements for establishing them. As an improving organisation it is your responsibility to find ways to meet the requirements. Then to document how you are going to do it. Ultimately, the organisation will implement your documented systems and start to meet the requirement of ISO 9001 in practice.
Auditing helps you improve
As your new system develops you will need to audit it. Traditionally managers look for problems and try and solve them. The ISO 9001 Standard changes that slightly. Instead, your systems are audited by staff who are trained for auditing. They look at your operations, documented procedures and processes. If there is any disparity between them, then the auditor requires appropriate adjustments to the non-conforming part of the system, so they align. The aim is to ensure those systems work together to do what they are supposed to do and comply to the requirements of ISO 9001 itself. So, the audits help achieve that by pointing out problems and implementing corrective actions. Actually, it also frees up a lot of management time. A big bonus, leaving managers more time to make strategic decisions.
The ISO 9001 Standard provides a launchpad for success
At CHARTER4 we have long experience of assisting organisations in many different industries to achieve ISO 9001. We have concentrated our efforts on helping businesses of all sizes on achieving two outcomes. First, we want your business to achieve certification. Second, we have established techniques and methods for taking your business beyond just complying. We want your business to develop and improve. Our experience has shown that success comes to those companies which use ISO 9001 to, “Improve your business, rather than just comply”.
We will ensure that your ISO 9001 experience will avoid just ticking boxes. If you would like to genuinely take your business to the next level, we would like to hear more about how we can help. Please click one of the buttons below to find out more.
Certification with Charter 4 – the Business Benefits
- Improve, rather than just comply.
- Full service and ongoing support to compliment your resources.
- Build on your Processes & Systems (no standard templates).
- Help defining your Best Practice.
- Certification by independent UKAS accredited Assessors.
- 100% Success & guaranteed support until Certification.
- Help to get Government Grant (when available).
- Flexible support to complement your resources.
CHARTER4 – Partners you with the experience and insight to help you grow using management Standards. We will help you improve your business, rather than just comply with the Standards.