The ISO 9001 standard requires that businesses implement a quality management system (QMS) designed to improve product and service quality through effective processes, leadership and operations.
Developed by the International Organization for Standardization, ISO 9001 is an agreed global standard the provides a benchmark for high-quality services and products. The ISO 9001 standard is suitable for all organisations and across all sectors, from SMEs and corporates to charities and the public sector.
The ISO 9001 standard focuses on maintaining well-defined operating processes and striving to continually improve processes and systems to benefit your customers, your staff, and your organisation. ISO 9001 certification does not require you to change your operating processes but ensure that they are consistent, controlled, and properly audited.
Our ISO 9001 consultants support hundreds of UK businesses in achieving ISO 9001 certification. From initial ISO 9001 assessments and gap analysis to full ISO 9001 quality management system outsourcing, our professional ISO 9001 practitioners are supported by our in-house legal team.
An ISO 9001 quality management system is built around the business and not around the standard. Our ISO 9001 consultants help ensure that your systems and processes are easy to maintain and set up so you can focus on your business and customer needs.
The ISO 9001 process provides a robust framework for improving every organisation’s quality system by adopting seven quality management principles:
- Customer focus
- Engagement of people
- Process approach
- Evidence-based decision-making
- Relationship management
- ISO 14001 – Environmental management standard designed to reduce waste and lower an organisation’s environmental impact.
- ISO 17025 – Testing management standard the demonstrates testing integrity and independence.
- ISO 22301 – Business continuity management standard that reduces the impact of disruption on organisational activities.
- ISO 27001 – Information security management systems standard designed to reduce IT and IS risks and lower data threats.
- ISO 45001 – Enhance occupational health and safety management systems, reducing the risk of injury and harm in the workplace.
- ISO 50001 – Improve energy efficiency across operations, premises, transport and industrial processes.
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ISO 9001 is suited to all industries, organisations and sectors. It combines good business practices for your industry and specific to your business. You can introduce ISO 9001 into any size or type of organisation. It is common for medium to large companies to have ISO 9001 certification – and many large businesses expect suppliers to be ISO 9001 certified. Smaller companies can use their ISO 9001 credentials to compete on a level with bigger enterprises. Your organisation can benefit if you currently feel your performance could be better in the following areas:
- Accessing new markets or customer types.
- Improving your customer satisfaction.
- Increasing the effectiveness of your employees.
- Improving your control of operations.
Our ISO 9001 consultants can help you maximise the benefits of a quality management system, and we guarantee ISO 9001 certification through our consultancy services.
Here are three key ways that ISO 9001 standards certification can help:
1. ISO 9001 certification enables you to increase your sales by expanding your customer base and meeting the conditions of specific sales contracts.
More often than ever, procurement professionals use ISO certification as a means of simplifying the qualification process. Asking for ISO 9001 as a prerequisite of supplying is an easy way for many large organisations to differentiate between competing companies. Equas clients have found they have acquired significant new business since achieving ISO 9001 accreditation.
2. ISO 9001 certification can enable you to reduce your costs through realising more efficient ways of working.
ISO 9001 provides a platform for better organisation and improves your responsiveness to customers. Because quality management puts your customers’ requirements at the centre of your business, it ensures your team focus on the right activities. Satisfied customers lead to repeat business, and recommendations lead to new customers.
3. Moving your business away from dependence on individuals towards a process-based approach.
As businesses grow, there is a greater need to develop systems and processes so that all relevant employees can repeat and maintain best practices. Dependence on key personnel limits what you can achieve and can stifle company growth. Investors welcome ISO 9001 as proof that a business can succeed with or without key individuals. Because investors will pay more for an ISO 9001 business, you will get a higher value when you are ready to sell.
You need to decide whether to use a UKAS-accredited or non-UKAS accredited certification body. You need to ensure you satisfy your current and potential customers’ requirements for UKAS certification.
All our ISO 9001 consultants support UKAS accredited ISO certification, ensuring your ISO 9001 certification is widely recognised.
- Decide which of your products, services and locations you want to include in the scope of the certification.
- Decide when you want to achieve certification and plan to maintain the momentum of the project. We recommend three to four months as a comfortable period to complete the necessary work for one standard.
- Identify and allocate the resources required to complete the project by your target certification date. Where necessary, engage the support of an external consultancy firm.
- Decide how you will operate and maintain your management system documents and records, such as PC, local server or specialist quality management system software such as our Activ Online Management System.
Commence the ISO 9001 project:
- Ensure you have buy-in from key colleagues.
- Carry out a Gap Analysis of your current system against the certification requirements.
- Plan the project, including resources and timescales.
- Appoint a Certification Body.
ISO 9001 implementation:
- Project manage to ensure key milestones and deadlines are met.
- Map your operating processes to get a high-level overview.
- Create appropriate documents to control your operating processes (such as purchasing, order processing, and employee training).
- Train your employees in the policies, procedures and control measures that are relevant to them.
- Carry out an Internal Audit and close out any significant actions identified.
- Complete your first Management Review meeting.
Undergo a certification audit by a UKAS-accredited certification body:
This audit will be split into two visits. The first visit will review your system documentation (referred to as a Stage 1 audit). The second visit will audit your records, interview employees and assess whether you have effectively implemented your system (referred to as a Stage 2 audit).
Our ISO 9001 consultant team carry out independent ISO 9001 audits before applying for certification.
The return you make on your investment in implementing and maintaining an ISO 9001 certified quality management system will depend on several factors:
- What new business you win or retain from customers who require you to have ISO 9001 certification.
- How well you exploit your ISO 9001 certification in your marketing and PR materials.
- The emphasis you place on identifying and implementing improvements that enhance your current service or product offerings.
- The time taken to achieve certification. The longer it takes you to achieve certification, the longer it will be before you realise any benefits.
- It’s often the case that organisations that take a long time to achieve certification must undertake a certain amount of rework during the project due to personnel changes or changes in operating processes.
- How inefficient and inconsistent your operations were before you started on the certification process.
- How well you maintain your quality management system after you’ve achieved certification.
The ISO 9001 standard has been revised, and a new version of the standard was released in September 2015. If you are certified before the new version comes into force, you were able to retain your ISO 9001:2008 certification for up to 3 years from the date on which you first achieved certification. The main differences between the 2008 version and the 2015 revision are:
- Greater evidence is required that your quality management system is based on clear and well-defined processes.
- Greater involvement from the senior management and directors.
- The requirement is to conduct a high-level risk assessment to identify areas where you can improve outcomes for your customers and stakeholders and reduce the likelihood of not responding appropriately to events in your external market.
- Greater control over work outsourced to third parties.
- Tighter requirements on Quality Objectives and the monitoring and measurement of them.
- Please contact us if you would like advice and support on how to amend your current Quality Management System to comply with the requirements of ISO 9001:2015.
e want to ensure that our customers achieve the key benefits of investing in becoming ISO certified, particularly concerning:
- Winning tenders with government bodies and blue-chip organisations
- Reducing their risk status with regulatory bodies
- Lowering insurance premiums and improving productivity
For this reason, we strongly recommend that organisations achieve certification with a UKAS-accredited body. Whilst we remain impartial on the certification body our customers use, we always strongly advise them against using a non-accredited body. Non-accredited certification or “self-certification” is highly likely to be rejected by potential customers.
For more details on the potential consequences of not selecting the UKAS-accredited route to certification, click on the links to the articles below.
Case StudiesFor more information, see our Case Studies:
How can ISO in a Box™ help you?
We can help you achieve ISO 9001 certification whatever your industry sector. If you need to meet the requirements of other standards alongside, we specialise in building integrated systems.
Contact us now to find out how to achieve ISO 9001, discuss your requirements or to obtain a fixed-price quotation with guaranteed certification.