ISO 9001 is an International Standard that specifies requirements for a Quality Management System that can be used for internal application by organisations, or for certification, or for contractual purposes. It focuses on the effectiveness of the Quality Management System in meeting customer requirements.
Many of my clients quite correctly started out with the view that they required an ISO 9001 certification as part of their marketing plan. Certification was going to bring to them a whole new range of government and corporate customers. It would allow them to challenge the big guys, lift their status and give them the added credentials they need to win the big contracts. It should be pointed out that the design and implementation (and therefore the cost) of a company quality management system is influenced by the need of the business, i.e., its size and complexity.
However, as they traveled on the ISO 9001 journey they found a number of issues that were equally as important as building their customer base. The road to certification requires a business to carefully examine its internal processes and without fail, one always finds significant room for improvement. A critical look at Control of Documents, Control of Electronic and Paper records, a company’s organisational structure, position descriptions and HR practices to name a few, will almost always lead to a realisation that company systems are defective.
One of my clients was so disturbed by these revelations that he suspended his head office ISO 9001 implementation for six weeks whilst he rebuilt his “engine room”. The result was such an improvement to his business that he has been able to rollout his new structure to a number of recent acquisitions of companies operating in a similar field, each time with a boost to the new company performance.
So, it is not just about finding new and bigger customers, it is about increasing company efficiency and therefore the bottom line.
“It is most important to distinguish between people and the process. Nine out of ten results, good or bad, are due to the process, and not to the individual.” – Bill Conway