What is ISO 9001
ISO 9001 is the international standard for quality management systems. The International Organisation for Standardisation, or the ISO, publishes over 23,000 international standards governing virtually all aspects of manufacturing and technology. The ISO 9000 family is concerned with quality management and the ISO 9001 certification for quality management systems is the most popular standard in the series with over one million businesses ISO 9001 certified worldwide.
ISO 9001 is designed to be universal, with all its recommendations applicable to businesses of every industry, size and sector.
What are the benefits of ISO 9001 certification?
Virtually every business can benefit from ISO 9001 certification. The implementation of an ISO 9001 compliant quality management system will provide the following benefits:
Increased customer satisfaction. An ISO 9001 certified quality management system will allow you to produce consistently high-quality products which meet customer expectations.
Increased revenue and customer retention. Your customers will be more likely to recommend you to their peers and won’t feel the need to look elsewhere if their needs are constantly met by your products.
International recognition. Gain access to international projects and government tenders thanks to the global appeal of this certification.
Increased efficiency. By continually improving your business’s internal processes and creating standardised business flows you’ll see improved efficiency, better, more consistent quality and increased output.
Minimised performance issues. By developing standardised processes through ISO 9001 you’ll reduce the likelihood of workplace incidents and mistakes. With better, more regulated training and education and more clearly defined roles your team’s performance will improve.
How to get ISO 9001 certification in Australia
To get ISO 9001 certification Australian businesses need to develop and implement an ISO 9001 compliant quality management system and have it certified by an independent third-party certification body. It’s essentially a two-step process:
- Achieve ISO 9001 compliance
- Obtain ISO 9001 certification
In order to prepare for ISO 9001 certification businesses can either develop their own system or engage the help of an ISO 9001 consultant. A consultant will conduct a gap analysis of your current quality management system including your workflows, processes and documentation against ISO 9001 requirements. They’ll then identify areas for improvement and help with the design and implementation of a new QMS to help ensure ISO 9001 compliance.
Once your ISO 9001 consultant is satisfied that your business is ISO 9001 compliant they’ll inform you that you’re ready to apply for certification.
Once you’re ready for certification you can find ISO certification providers in your area using the JAS-ANZ website.
The ISO 9001 certification process
1. Gap analysis and preparation
The first step in achieving ISO 9001 certification is conducting a gap analysis and other preparation for ISO 9001 compliance. During the preparation process you will need to:
- Set goals around what benefits you want to receive from your ISO 9001 certification
- Define the scope of your ISO 9001 certification including which products, departments and locations it will cover. Ideally, your certification should cover your entire organisation.
- Decide whether you’ll achieve compliance on your own or with the help of a professional ISO 9001 consultant
- Designate an ISO 9001 head or “ISO 9001 management representative” to oversee your quality management system. If you have multiple locations you may need a representative for each branch
- Conduct a thorough gap analysis to discover where you’re already compliant and where you need to make improvements.
- Create an ISO 9001 plan including steps, deadlines and milestones and delegate tasks and responsibilities. Keep your plan as simple and practical as possible.
2. Prepare compliance documentation
Your quality management system will require detailed documentation. This documentation should be prepared by someone who has in-depth knowledge of your company and your industry as this documentation needs to be tailored to your business.
Documentation includes your Quality Policy, Quality Objectives, Scope statement, Policies and procedures, Work process instructions, Process maps for workflows and Forms.
Remember, documentation is only as good as its implementation. For your management system to be effective your written documentation, policies and procedures need to be put into action.
TIP: An ISO 9001 consultant can make the documentation process faster with documentation templates.
3. QMS implementation
Introduce all new procedures to your team. For smaller businesses, this could be through a team meeting or for larger enterprises the new processes can be introduced to department heads who can then implement the new procedures to their teams.
Improve processes. Once your new procedures are in place your team needs to get to work improving their processes to match the new procedures. Workflow updates should be collaborative and should eliminate double handling, delays and inefficient processes.
Prepare work instructions for high-risk or occasional activities. Your team needs to prepare relevant work instructions for tasks required by the ISO 9001 standard. Your ISO 9001 consultant can advise you on which work processes require instructions in your business.
Maintain records. Prepare and maintain accurate, comprehensive records of your new work processes. These records will be reviewed by an auditor when they’re assessing your ISO 9001 compliance.
4. Internal auditing and compliance verification
Before your business can apply for ISO 9001 certification you need to conduct a thorough internal audit covering your whole ISO 9001 QMS to ensure compliance. The audit can be conducted piece-meal and doesn’t need to be done all at once, but it does need to cover the whole management system. Your business needs to have at least 1 or 2 months worth of records to verify your implementation of the QMS.
Your internal audit can be conducted by an ISO 9001 consultant for peace of mind. Once you’ve completed your internal audit your business is ready for the final stage, ISO 9001 certification.
Apply to a certification body. Once you feel you’re ready to obtain your ISO 9001 certification you need to apply to an ISO certification body. These are independent third party businesses that specialise in certifying businesses with ISO compliance
Stage 1 and 2 audits. The ISO 9001 certification audit is made up of two stages — stage 1 involves an audit of your business’s documentation and records, while stage 2 involves an audit of your company’s work processes.
Address non-compliance. If there are any areas of non-compliance your auditor will identify them and require you to rectify them prior to certification. If there are serious issues with your QMS you may need a secondary audit to gain certification.
Receive ISO 9001 certification. Once your business is ISO 9001 certified your certification will last for 3 years. You will be audited annually to confirm your ongoing compliance with ISO 9001.
How to get ISO 9001 certification ready
In order to gain your ISO 9001 certification, you need to become ISO 9001 compliant. This means you need to implement an ISO 9001 compliant safety management system. You can either attempt to gain compliance yourself or engage the help of an independent ISO consultancy agency. ISO 9001 consultancy services can identify gaps in your quality management system and help you become 100% compliant and ready to achieve certification.
At BusinessBasics we specialise in ISO compliance and we’ve helped countless organisations from a diverse range of industries achieve ISO 9001 compliance and go on to obtain ISO 9001 certification.