ISO 9001 – the quality certification
Increasingly organisations ranging from start up dot.coms to well established manufacturing organisations are recognising the benefits that an effectively implemented quality management system (QMS) can bring.
In addition, a QMS that is certified by an independent, accredited third party assessment body to the international quality management system standard, ISO 9001 gives clear demonstration of an organisation’s commitment in consistently providing a product or service that meets customer needs.
ISO 9001 involves an ongoing, systematic evaluation of a QMS, together with an internationally recognised certification that confirms to customers, shareholders, suppliers and employees that the management systems conform to world standards.
A revised version of the QMS standard, ISO 9001:2000 was published in December 2000 replacing the existing ISO 9001 and ISO 9002:1994. It is supported by two other standards, ISO 9000 Concepts and Vocabulary, and ISO 9004 Guidance, which is a link to other quality systems such as the EFQM Excellence Model.
The changes between the 1994 and 2000 versions are significant and were made following feedback from user groups and interested parties, and include:
- less bureaucracy meaning a reduced requirement for procedures
- greater emphasis on customer satisfaction and continual improvement of the QMS
- the focus of the standard moves from an activity based approach to a process-oriented structure which is more relevant to the increasingly diverse range of organisations using it, from service and public sectors through to manufacturing
- less jargon and more easily understandable
- compatibility with other management systems such as ISO 14001, increasingly important as more companies look to integrate their management systems
- greater involvement from senior management
In short, the revisions to the standard will help to produce a relevant quality management system which is easier to understand and use, and which is geared directly to the achievement of business results, including satisfaction of customers and others.
This involves an independent, third party assessment of an organisation’s quality management system to confirm it meets the requirements of ISO 9001. Prior to applying for certification, organisations should have a quality policy, a QMS that is capable of being assessed and a minimum of 3 months records to show the system is established. For further information on the LRQA certification process please access www.lrqa.co.uk/sf9000
Our advice: Not all certification bodies are made the same. When selecting a certification body, ensure they are accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service for the service you want. Look for the UKAS tick and crown.
Further guidance including impartial advice on how to implement a quality management system is available from http://www.lrqa.co.uk/resources/implementing/