Consistency in quality improves the company’s overall image and increases confidence of business partners in trading with the company. It also builds customer loyalty, as the customers return because they trust the service provider to provide the same level of service and product quality as previously or better. When it comes to international trading, organisations want the assurance that the products they will receive from suppliers and services rendered by business partners are on the same level of quality that they can deliver or better.
ISO 9001 is the international standard that has been universally adopted to ensure such consistency in quality at every level of supply. This means that the quality control and standards are the same and applied consistently throughout the enterprise. Everything from the production line right through to customer relations, delivery of products and the way in which the business operates, comply with the requirements of the standard.
Part of this process entails training of personnel in the requirements of ISO 9001 and the company’s policies and procedures regarding quality in compliance with the requirements. It also entails training the personnel to be competent in their particular jobs, as well as training for appointed employees to lead or participate in internal and external audits regarding quality management in the company.
When a firm adopts ISO 9001, the company makes a declaration of quality. It entails setting up a quality management system that can be integrated with the firm’s existing management systems and in compliance with other ISO standards such as ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001.
ISO 9001:2008 was recently revised and the new ISO 9001 was released in September 2015 to bring companies into the quality requirements of the 21st century. This was needed because of revisions to other international standards and to ensure improved integration with existing management standards and systems.
The standard is applicable to all types of organisations, irrespective of their sizes and industries. This helps to create a universal standard of quality management, which if adopted by a company, holds several benefits for the said company:
- Improved quality of products and services.
- Higher level of customer satisfaction.
- Greater accountability on the part of management.
- Involvement of all employees to ensure quality.
- Ongoing improvement in processes.
- Consistency in quality.
By adopting the standard and obtaining certification to the effect, the enterprise shows their commitment to quality and standardisation. The company furthermore gains a competitive edge over businesses that have yet to comply.
Certification bodies have three years to make the transition from the 2008 version to 2015 version. Companies that have gained certification under the 2008 version should take the necessary steps to migrate to the 2015 version.
As part of compliance requirements, companies need to ensure that proper documentation is in place regarding every step of quality control in their firms. Assessments of quality, corrective steps, control measures and improvements must be recorded. With such, a complete audit trail develops, thus helping firms to identify areas of weaknesses for the purpose of improvement.
ISO 9001 is part of the ISO 9000 series of standards on quality management systems. It is the only standard in the series against which firms can gain certification. The new version took over three years of research and development to complete, and representatives of over 95 countries have worked together to create the new standard.
Companies that have adopted the standard have reported improved levels of customer satisfaction and improved organisation of their processes. They have also reported lower levels of wastage and fewer returned goods. All of the above translates into higher profits and business growth.
The first step in becoming ISO 9001:2015 compliant is to have a GAP analysis conducted. The analysis shows where the firm still needs to improve on their systems to ensure complete compliance. Based on the results, the necessary changes are made to the management system and documentation. It is imperative to set up the complete quality management system in accordance with the requirements listed in ISO 9001. The internal and external audits follow, and the necessary training of personnel is completed. Once ready, the organisation applies for certification and the audit for compliance is conducted and once certified, the company needs to ensure ongoing improvement and compliance.
We offer assistance in setting up the quality management system and integrating it with existing management systems for compliance with relevant ISO standards. In addition, we provide training, GAP analysis audits, internal and external audit services, and assist with the certification process. We also offer a compliance maintenance programme.