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ISO Standards for Quality Management

Narendra Kumar

| Updated: Sep 04, 2018 | Category: ISO Registration

ISO 9000 Certification

ISO 9000 Certification

The birth of ISO 9000 took place some twenty years before the standards were actually published by the parent body, International Organization for Standardization 1987. The concept of quality management and quality assurance took birth when contractors supplying defense-related and other products to government agencies had to meet differently defined standards that were similar in nature. In the earlier days, the ISO 9000 certification standards were followed by procurement companies and departments in order to streamline contractual agreements with their suppliers. It became one centralized quality manual that was required to be met by the entire supply chain thereby reducing the cost of maintenance of different types of quality standards and procedures.

The ISO 9000 quality standard was divided further into three other models – ISO 9001, ISO 9002 and ISO 9003. The first model concentrates on all processes related to production, product design and development, installation and servicing aspects; ISO 9002 focused only on production and installations whereas ISO 9003 focused on testing and inspections. However, after the implementation of certain updates ISO 9002 and ISO 9003 are rendered obsolete.

Benefits of ISO 9000 Standards

ISO 9000 is used by both manufacturing and service industries. Globally this system of defining and setting quality system has been adopted by more than 160 countries. Under ISO 9000 family certification can be obtained against ISO 9001. The benefits of being certified as an ISO 9001 company are:-

  1. Companies, mostly small-scale businesses generally get the certification because their customers insist that their suppliers adhere to international quality standards.
  2. It enhances the credibility of the business and helps the business acquire new customers and enable them to retain customers too.
  3. It helps businesses overcome shortcomings in their processes, thereby helping the company save on its costs.
  4. As ISO 9001 registration process requires detailed documentation and helps in better management control.
  5. It helps in improving internal communication and interaction between departments.

ISO 9000 identifies 20 areas within an organization that needs work on quality related issues:-

  • Management responsibility
  • Quality system
  • Order entry
  • Design control
  • Document and data control
  • Purchase
  • Control of customer supplied products
  • Product identification and traceability
  • Process control
  • Inspection and testing control of related equipment
  • Inspection and test status
  • Control of non-conforming products
  • Corrective and preventive actions
  • Storage, packaging, and delivery
  • Control of quality records
  • Internal audit
  • Training
  • Servicing
  • Statistical techniques

The Process of Compliance with ISO 9000 Standard

The International Standards Organization does not perform the task of certification. In order to be certified to ISO 9001, the business entity needs to get in touch with an independent certification body. The top management of the company needs to be involved from the initiation stage. The compliance requires a company to focus completely on its processes and bring about necessary changes in order to become more efficient and effective. These standards look at the bigger picture and larger goals of the business rather than each department and individual processes. At the macro level, it intends to make processes more interactive and integrated so that a proper and efficient quality management system is put into place. Certification requires a schedule and there are costs involved. As long as the top management is in line with the implementation of the quality standards, the commitment is formalized and the steering committee responsible for achieving and finally getting the company compliant with ISO 9000 is able to draw up the schedule and timelines for achieving the same.

The second step for the company is to train its internal employees and staff on the basics of quality management and ISO 9000 concepts and objectives, methods and methodology. Amongst the ones being trained on ISO 9000, some of the employees would be selected eventually to become the internal auditors.

Typically, a company aiming to be ISO 9000compliant would require having three types of audits of the quality management system. The first audit is the internal audit check that is conducted by employees themselves. ISO encourages and also mentions that this audit is mandatory so that the company can get feedback on the performance of its systems and processes from people who are running the show. The only drawback of this audit is that there would be chances of partial feedback and judgment here. The second audit is one where the customers of the business are asked to evaluate the performance of the company. Some companies though skip the second audit and move on straight to the third one. The third audit is all about a professional independent certification body evaluating the working of the business as per mentioned ISO 9000 standards. In order to obtain the ISO seal for ISO 9001 certification, all organizations need to undergo the 3rd party audit on a mandatory basis.

The third step in the process involves drafting the basic Quality Policy Manual for the organization following guidelines mentioned under ISO 9000 certification requirements. The fourth essential step comprises of comparing the set operating procedures with the drafted Quality manual and fine-tuning it for gaps and shortcomings. In this step, it is also required to prepare responsibilities of individuals who are spearheading different processes and procedures.

The fifth step involves undertaking the internal audit.  As a result of this step, the ISO 9000 manual is compared with process compliance and wherever found lacking, corrective measures are undertaken to bridge the gap. As follow-on of this step, consumers of the business can be involved in conducting their take on process improvements and whether the company has been able to get to the desired results or not.

The next step involves calling up professionally certified independent certification organizations and shortlisting the best amongst them. The selection of the best one is done on the basis of their reputation in the industry, the number of audits undertaken by them, the number of certifications provided as well as the price being charged for getting the registration.

The next step is all about preparing to get the company registered for ISO 9001. There are application forms to be filled in and per-assessment audit is conducted by the selected third party. In case of loopholes in procedures and processes, corrective action needs to be decided and implemented immediately. Finally, the selected third party gets going with the audit check as per prescribed ISO 9001 guidelines. Since this system of quality management is not rigid and quite flexible in its approach, businesses have the freedom to implement systems and processes as per individual business requirements. While the audit for registration is done, the auditor makes sure to point out areas that need corrective action and need to be worked upon.  There could be a number of re-audits in order to improvise the quality management system of the company. Finally, when the auditor gives the all-clear signal, the company is ready to be certified as an ISO 9001 certified company and gets the formal certification from the certifying agency.

One of the main elements of this quality management system is the policy of continual improvement. The system mentions that no organization should be just happy obtaining the certificate. It needs to keep working to make its processes more efficient and effective thereby keep excelling the previous audit results and try to achieve a perfect business model.

Narendra Kumar

Experienced Finance and Legal Professional with 12+ Years of Experience in Legal, Finance, Fintech, Blockchain, and Revenue Management.

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