ISO 9001 is the international standard for Quality Management Systems (QMS), published by ISO (the International Organization for Standardization). The standard was most recently updated in 2015, and is referred to as ISO 9001:2015.
It is important to note that the standard does NOT define the actual quality of your product or service. Instead, it certifies the standard of your Quality Management System. The standard focuses on your customer and strives for continuous improvement of your processes allowing you to achieve consistent results. The idea is not to show that you are capable of delivering products of high quality on occasion, but that you are able to deliver the quality that is expected of you all of the time.
What then is a Quality Management System?
A quality management system (QMS) is a defined set of policies, processes and procedures relating to the core operations of the business. The aim is to ensure that all those involved in operations that can impact the organization’s ability to meet customer requirements, are well equipped with documented, understandable and workable instructions which define both expectations, responsibilities and actions to achieve the stated quality goals.
In summary, a quality management system aligns the different aspects of a company to deliver products/services in their best form. Rather than be seen as a cost burden, an effective quality management system is viewed as a key component of success. The Quality Management System focuses on:
- Developing processes and procedures that provide the customer with the best value possible quality.
- Continually improving company processes, recognising that the process never reaches a point of perfection.
- Reducing waste and maximizing resources.
- Proactive thinking with preventative actions. Things don’t always go as planned in business. It’s possible to sway the number in your favour however.
- Reactive measures with documented corrective actions for when things do go wrong.
So how does your Quality Management System get ISO 9001 certified?
To get certified, the standard requires that your Quality Management System be supported by documented information such as procedures, work instructions, policies and forms. Upon request, your Quality Management System will be audited by a qualified certification body who have the ability to grant you ISO 9001 certification.