5 Nov, 2014
The leading quality management system used by organisations around the world is the ISO 9000 suite. There are several sub-specialities under this umbrella but ISO 9001 is probably the most well-known. It lays out the principles and requirements of a quality management system and is used by over one million companies and organisations in over 170 countries around the world. Last updated in 2008 the standard is currently being revised with a new version expected to be ready by the end of 2015.
Essentially it is a system that helps businesses put processes in place to use resources (including people) in the most efficient way possible for the particular business. Although it is a certification the objective of ISO 9001 is not so much about meeting a standard as it is about helping an organisation implement processes that will help it achieve its goals. The focus is on three areas:
The certification is designed to be adaptable so that it works around the organisation itself. This means it can be applied to businesses of any size or structure and across a multitude of industries. In addition, because the standard follows the principle of continual improvement it builds on progress already achieved and changes over time. The organisation has a major input into the design of the processes and how they relate to each other and as might be expected there is a high degree of customisation.
As ISO 9001 certification is a quality management system it works best for organisations that have a need for providing a consistent product or service and where customer satisfaction is important. In contrast with some other certification systems the size of the organisation is a minor consideration. Indeed companies with ISO 9001 include businesses in one location and less than five employees right up to large organisations operating across countries and employing thousands of staff. Moreover, businesses in industries where statutory or regulatory requirements are a consideration often find they benefit from having a structured quality management system in place.
Delivery: Companies that are growing strongly sometimes struggle to deliver for clients, which can causes issues like reputational damage and lost orders. Having a well structured quality management system like ISO 9001 in place helps companies to identify stress points and then allocate resources ahead of time.
Cost savings: Introducing efficient processes often results in waste reduction with commensurate savings for the business. This also helps to ensure resources are used most efficiently.
Customer satisfaction: With its focus on meeting customer expectations businesses retain existing clients, including identifying trends in purchases, which can help to address issues in the early stages. Staying close to customer can also help to monitor competitor activity and spot trends in the making.
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