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ISO 9001 – What is it and do I need it?

ISO 9001 out the requirements for a quality management system. It is the only standard in ISO 9000 that can be certified to, and it is the most widely used standard in the world. It can be used by any type of business, large or small, regardless of industry.

The standard is based upon a number of quality management practices, including a strong customer orientation, the motivation and implication for management, the process approach, and continuous improvement.

ISO 9001 certification ensures that customers receive consistent, high-quality products and services.

What is quality management all about?

There are seven quality management principles that the ISO 9001 standard builds on. These are:

  1. Customer focus. Meeting and exceeding your customers’ needs is the primary focus of quality management. It is important to both attract and retain the confidence of your customers.

  2. Leadership. Strong leadership is essential for ensuring that everyone in the company knows and understands what you're trying to achieve.

  3. Engagement of People. Creating value for your clients will be easier if you've got competent, empowered and engaged employees at all levels of your company.

  4. Process approach. Understanding activities as processes linked together and functioning as a system, helps achieve better consistency and predictability.

  5. Improvement. Successful companies have an ongoing focus on continuous improvement. If you want to keep delivering value to your customers, you must react to changes in the internal environment and the external environment.

  6. Evidence-based decision making. Decisions aren't always easy and involve a degree of uncertainty. Making sure your decisions are based on data analysis and evaluation is more likely to get you the desired outcome.

  7. Relationship management. Today's businesses don't operate in a vacuum. Identifying the important connections you have with interested parties — such as your suppliers — will help you achieve sustainable success.

Following these principles will help ensure that your business is structured so that it consistently creates value for its customers. If you've got these principles in place, then implementing a quality management system should be a lot easier.

Should you consider ISO 9001 certification for your business?

Certification to ISO 9001 is not a requirement, and you can use the standard to improve the way you work without being certified. Third party certification is a way of signalling to your buyers, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders that you have implemented the standard properly.

The benefits it will bring to your business.

Implementing a quality management system will help you:

  • Assess the overall context of your organisation to define who is affected by your work and what they expect from you.

  • Put your customers first, making sure you consistently meet their needs and exceed their expectations. This can lead to repeat custom, new clients and increased business for your organisation.

  • Work in a more efficient way as all of your processes will be aligned and understood by everyone in your business

  • Expand into new markets – some sectors and clients require you to have ISO 9001 before doing business.

In our next article, we will explore how to get started, and what you need to do in order to achieve certification.

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