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ISO 9001:2015 - what it is, why you should have it, and how to get it!

Mon 27th June 2016

ISO 9001:2015 - what it is, why you should have it, and how to get it! width=

It's been a little while since we last released a blog: it's been a bit full on here! But it's in all the busi-ness that it becomes so easy to push aside the things we don't understand and the things we know will take just ages to even make one small step because it's not easy

It is with this in mind that I write today

The other day I spoke with a potential client who represents just the sort of people that I set up my company, The Light Blue Consultancy Co Ltd, to assist. They are a long standing small business which relies heavily on having ISO 9001 certification to secure tenders and maintain client business. However, the way it's been implemented, the staff admit to having very little understanding of the language and the processes they're meant to follow to maintain the certification. It's come to a point whereby if they don't implement it fully through understanding the principles of the standard, they stand to lose their certification. So it becomes more than just a certificate for the wall, it's their business livelihood that's at stake.

This is typical of many companies that have got ISO 9001 certification. The certification has lost it's meaning. Or maybe it was never given the chance to be fully understood in the first place!

ISO 9001:2015 is an international standard that is designed to give a structure to companies (or processes) to enable continual improvement and standardisation of products, services and processes.

But why should you have it? Most people work on the premiss that unless you need to do something, you are more than likely to put it off. And we will all, given the choice, try to do a shortcut if there's no consequences. Knowing about something is different to actually implementing it. And implementing it isn’t necessarily the same as understanding it and getting the most from having it.

Over the years I've come to realise that the key is simplicity. Understand the core principles and then apply that consistently throughout your organisation. And this is where the standard starts from: It gives you pointers on how to achieve the basic principle of continual improvement: the heart of every successful business. Then it reminds you how to do this:

- Plan

- Do

- Check

- Act

And that's it in a nutshell. The actual detail is in the standard’s documentation. In my first blog I talked about the QMS and how it's been made complicated. It needs demystifying even if that's to the detriment of companies reliant on making it too complex for average businesses (especially SME's) to understand, requiring them to have professionals in who understand the lingo Our business is set up to help provide that understanding and the tools to set it up and then to use it's principles as an everyday part of the business.

In blog 3 (Creating a QMS just why would you want to and how?!...) I proposed just how to go about implementing that all important Quality Management System (QMS). It still makes it sound like a separate entity, but another way of looking at it is to see it as a scaffolding on which the business can run to ensure that all the pieces knit together to allow continual improvement and a quality product and/or service.

One can "get it" by purchasing the standard, studying it and then thinking of ways to implement into an existing business or process, making the mistakes along the way but building personal understanding. Most businesses thinking of going down that path though will hire in a consultant to help guide them along the way in order to save them money against the time saved by getting someone in who already understands the process. Some of those that can do this can be found here:

Once the "scaffolding" is set up, then should certification be required, you should contact a certification body/company that can audit and award your business/process certification to the current ISO 9001 standard. The Chartered Quality Insutitute gives some good guidance on how to achieve this:

Once the certification is obtained, it's just a matter of keeping it up to date by maintaining the principles of the standard running throughout the company's processes. Simples! Well it should be!...

It shouldn't be hard to embed this way of thinking, after all, if you're a successful business, the principles must be instilled in the company's framework somewhere, it may just be a question of refining it a little to make it a little more obvious. Once you have certification , the benefit to your business will become very clear.

But if you're having trouble understanding it all, do give us a call or even join in our Facebook or Twitter feed to discuss an issue you're facing today.

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