ISO 9001:2008 Certification Introduction
ISO 9001 certification may be the wave of the future. With the growth of many up-and-coming countries, the need for a global quality management system has made ISO 9001 certification even more critical than ever before.
The ISO 9001 standard has been accepted by the European community for many years and now it is gaining traction everywhere. It seems like a must if you want to sell industrial, automotive, medical or safety equipment. Any area where quality is critical, ISO 9001 certification gives the buyer confidence.
For many companies, ISO 9001 certification is too costly and they opt for ISO 9001 compliance. In many cases, this is the best solution since they get much of the benefit of ISO 9001 certification without the cost of internal and external audits. I highly recommend compliance vs. certification for small companies that do not have the real resources to apply to maintaining ISO 9001 certification.
Once the commitment is made to ISO 9001 certification, the implementation process starts with the assignment of a representative, the development of a quality plan and the creation of a implementation team. I recommend creating an implementation team and sending them for external training before making any significant efforts on creating a new quality system. The representative should be a manager who cannot be corrupted by conflating goals, such as the production manager (driven to ship everything possible every month). After the ISO 9001 certification is complete, the representative is the main contact on all ISO 9001 certification issues.
At any point, the company may select a certification body or consultant. If the company. Selecting a implementation and certification partner now can be useful because they can support the company with gap analysis, training and feedback.
Next: training, training and more training. Most companies do not really grasp the requirement of ISO 9001 certification until they get external training or an external pre-assessment (gap analysis). For companies with a limited budget who want ISO 9001 certification, the time line can be extended to allow for sharing of resources.
With an organized and trained team, the ISO 9001 certification effort can begin. I have seen several consultants recommend a 1-year ISO 9001 certification implementation effort. That would be about right if the company does not have a quality system in place. If there is a basic system that includes a quality manual and Corrective and preventive actions in place, I have seen ISO 9001 certification implemented in about 3 months. A 3 months project is about right if the effort to meet the minimum to get ISO 9001 certification. Of course, continuous improvement is part of the requirements so the project never ends.
The process of getting ISO 9001 certification requires significant effort but the result can pay for the cost of implementation and maintenance. An efficient quality system produces less waste (both time and materials, better products and can result is a better reputation for the company. If done correctly, ISO 9001 certification can force a company to grow.