ISO 9001 standard: what it is, requirements, advantages and limitations
It is the most important qualitystandard, sought-after by companies all over the world. But what does it mean to ISO 9001 certified, and why is it important?
Worldwide, over one million organizations are ISO 9001 certified. Synonymous with demanding norms, robust processes, qualified teams and top equipment, it is by far the most sought-after quality standard. But what does it mean – and is it worth it?
What is the ISO 9001 Standard?
“Good processes lead to excellent results” – or so the saying goes. ISO 9001 certification is an international quality standard that proves a company’s ability to produce products and services based on best practices. The acronym “ISO” derives from the word “isonomy”, meaning equality. The point is to standardize key production parameters as a way to ensure consistent quality.
But unlike other certifications, ISO 9001 focuses on customer satisfaction and process management. These criteria have been tested in different industries over decades, and are at the basis of any effective, modern, Quality Management system.
This was the goal of creating the ISO 9001 certification in the first place, after World War II: to unify quality standards everywhere. Today, over 70 years after its creation, 180 countries subscribe to the established rules, making this standard an excellent business card for internationalization.
Despite its age, ISO 9001 has never stopped evolving. Since its origin, it has undergone a process of continuous improvement, as its own mission advocates. Its scope has outgrown the original mandate to include every industrial process, from the design stage all the way through development, production, assembly and after-sales.
Contrary to what one might think, this certification does not focus solely on inspection or on reaction to failure. On the contrary, it emphasizes preventive actions to avoid mistakes and embed quality control in the process – not just at the end of the line. The most recent updates pay particular attention to the responsibility of those at the highest echelons of companies and recognize quality training as a business asset. Further reformulations, developments and improvements are expected, as per the very nature of this standard.
What are the ISO 9001 requirements?
Obtaining the ISO 9001 requires an organization to address seven key areas, seen as key in creating an effective Quality Management system. These areas are the Context of the organization, Leadership, Planning, Support, Operations, Performance Evaluation and Continuous Improvement.
Take Operations. ISO 9011 requires quality specifications and targets to be defined for all product lines and services. It also states that companies should document production processes and execution steps, how they monitor performance, inspect and test to ensure quality. To be certified, businesses should be prepared to provide evidences they performed quality checks.
In one another area, Context, companies must determine the factors – both internal and external to the business – that affect the quality of their services. It is also necessary to identify relevant stakeholders, such as employees, suppliers and customers, and list their needs and objectives. The list of requirements goes on and on for each of the ensuing sections.
What are the advantages of ISO 9001?
ISO 9001 Standard is not academic. It is a valuable resource for business management and involves real benefits.
Many companies require their suppliers to be ISO 9001 certified to apply for new contracts. Any business without it could lose sales. In addition, this certification is a strong indicator that management values the quality of its processes, which helps to win more contracts and establish new partnerships.
Increased customer confidence
Customers are looking for quality, as much as a fair price. Some may even be ready to pay a premium for what they perceive to be an added layer of verification. Dubious quality casts a long shadow with direct consequences for consumer trust. The ISO 9001 Standard provides security and confidence that companies comply with quality requirements.
ISO 9001 certification is international in scope, and so are its benefits for businesses. It is a way to open doors to negotiate with any type of company anywhere in the world. Although each country has its own version of ISO 9001, the certification obtained in one country is valid worldwide and has international recognition. Thus, businesses looking to expand to other countries should put in the effort to get this certification.
The ISO 9001 certification forces companies to rethink their processes with the customer at the center. It is a way to meet expectations, needs and interests of customers. A company that follows these principles will win over internal and external customers and pave the way for recurring business.
Better positioning in the market
Getting ISO 9001 certification is no small feat. There is a long list of requirements to be met, processes to be reviewed, and training. Therefore, companies that are certified prove to the market their commitment to continuous improvement. The message of responsibility may provide a competitive advantage and bring your business to the same level as other companies around the world that follow the same quality standards.
What are the limitations of the ISO 9001 certification?
Any organization, regardless of industry or size, can benefit from ISO 9001 certification. However, there are a few challenges to consider, starting with the duration of the process itself: meeting all ISO 9001 requirements takes time. Only studying and understanding these requirements can be challenging, especially for younger organizations that are yet to implement a quality management system.
For large companies, implementing a new quality management system according to ISO 9001 standards can be time-consuming. In some cases, it takes several years for companies to be fully compliant, even with everyone’s involvement.
It is also necessary to consider that ISO 9001 was initially created for manufacturing companies. Although it has since expanded to include other industries, many service companies may have difficulty adapting the standard to their realities.
Finally, ISO 9001 will hardly bring quick-wins. However, this is also one of its significant advantages: the goal is to help the business improve over time, not just for the next quarter.
Somengil, excellence certified
Quality and operational excellence–this is what you can expect from Somengil, which has been ISO 9001 certified since 2010. MultiWasher, an industrial washing machine, results from the continuous improvement of our processes, and the latest technology at the service of industrial washing. This machine is designed for top performance, in efficiency, ergonomics and design. The MultiWasher allows you to sanitize every utensil, with 2/3 less water than other industrial washing solutions, and with 70% less detergent while still delivering a perfect wash. Schedule a demonstration to prove the washing performance of the MultiWasher.