ISO 9001 – What is It?

ISO 9001:2015 is the world’s most recognised quality management standard and is used in over one million organisations globally.  Accreditation shows adherence to a set of quality management principles and is an opportunity for small businesses to access wider networks to leverage and boost business performance.

Designed and intended to apply to virtually any manufacturing process or service, ISO 9001 can help your organisation become more efficient and perform better through improved customer satisfaction, staff motivation and continual improvement. 

Many procurement processes, particularly local and national government and international businesses require the supplier to have achieved the standard. For a smaller business, achieving certification demonstrates their credibility and assures purchasers that the company has a risk-based approach to business processes.

The Key principles of ISO 9001

  • Customer focus

Successful businesses require good communication skills to meet their customer requirements. Small businesses in particular, are constantly juggling ways to provide a service that exceeds customer satisfaction. The culture of continuous improvement depends on good open communication so that clients can express their requirements and have the confidence that their needs are being fulfilled.

  • Leadership

Leaders provide the direction and purpose of the company and should create an environment in which people become fully engaged to fulfil the organisation’s objectives. Not just maintaining and improving business financial goals, but also providing training and support to ensure that company objectives are being met and that employees are competent to undertake tasks.

  • Employee Engagement

All employees should feel they have ownership and responsibility to solve problems and be empowered to make improvements. People within the organisation are its driving force.

  • Processes

All processes need to be effectively managed. This can be done by identifying the processes and attaching risks to each one. Businesses should also look at ways these risks can be mitigated, and the actions required to do so.

  • Improvement

A company should always look at ways to become better. It should be a leadership aim and communicated at all levels of the organisation. Education and training on methods of continual improvement should be accessible to all staff.

  • Evidence-based decision-making

Decisions based on analysis of data and evaluation are more effective than subjective decisions. For example, collecting data on customer satisfaction rates can provide valuable data on levels of satisfaction for products and how products or services can be improved.

  • Relationship management 

Companies need to actively understand the context in which they operate and develop effective communication with interested parties such as suppliers, customers and the wider community.

Achieving ISO 9001 accreditation can be a lengthy process and many smaller companies may struggle to understand, or even find the time, to complete the necessary paperwork to the required standard. Asking for guidance through the process is undoubtedly a safer option. 

The benefits are clear though, cost saving by streamlining business processes, reducing waste, improving the quality of your management systems, and increased customer satisfaction by consistently  meeting requirements.

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