Used correctly, the benefits of implementing a quality management system conforming to ISO 9001 can be enormous.
Evidence shows that companies working to ISO 9001 experience increased efficiency and productivity; reduction in errors and waste of resource; higher quality products / services; increased customer satisfaction and increased sales. All of this leads to a healthier bottom line.
Of course, implementing a quality management system that meets the requirements of ISO 9001 can be challenging. Depending on the size and complexity of the organisation, it can take six to 12 months to complete the implementation.
Here are Klavs Henriksen's top 10 tips for implementing the internationally recognised Quality Management System (QMS) standard.
Top 10 Tips for Implementing ISO 9001
Buy and read the standard ISO 9001. This might seem to be self-evident, but there are people out there who rely on the internet to find all the answers. Nothing compares to reading the actual requirements.
The need to get top management commitment may be obvious - in fact it’s a requirement of ISO 9001 - but too often senior management think that it’s something they can delegate and wash their hands of. This won’t work. Without their commitment it can prove difficult to drive home the changes that are needed.
Provide education and training across all levels of the organisation. You need training in managing a Quality Management System. Your staff need to understand the requirements of the standard as well as the quality principles that they should work towards in their everyday work. Needless to say, that education and training should be provided on a continuous basis.
Make sure that you develop and implement effective methods for internal communication. This will be needed during the development and implementation of your system, as well as afterwards in your daily running of the system.
Conduct a Gap Analysis to fully understand where your current system conforms to or doesn’t conform to the expectations of the ISO 9001 standard. In this way you will be able to allocate resources accordingly.
As the saying goes: When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. So, plan your implementation as you would plan any other project in your organisation. Make sure that roles, responsibilities and authorities are defined and communicated and develop a schedule that allows you the time and resources needed for the entire project.
A Quality Management System does not live a life in splendid isolation in a quality department. Quality is pervasive and touches all parts of the organisation, so involve managers and staff alike when developing your system, giving ownership of the whole system to the organisation.
Develop a clear Quality Policy, as well as other policies, and clear quality objectives to provide the organisation with a common direction.
Encourage managers and staff alike to question and improve on your policies, processes and procedures. It is not enough to only have an implementation team or internal auditors looking for issues with the systems. Everyone should continually be seeking better ways to do things. This is as true for the implementation as it is for the day to day running of your system.
Conduct regular reviews of your emerging and implemented management system through a process of internal audits. This can help you ensure that you are continually improving how your systems function.
Bonus tip: Find a certification body that you feel you can work with. The auditors are there to support you in growing your business and improving your management system.