What is an ISO 9001 certification? Most people think that its an exercise in putting together documents for the auditor to see so that a certification would be issued. This is not true. Before, the ISO standard focused less on the results and needed a lot of documents. This is according to individuals who have worked with ISO for a lot of years. This was considered by lots of managers and business owners as part of the operating expense and as something which is not helpful to any company.

The good news is that the focus on the revised ISO standard is more on improving business processes and not on putting together documents for the auditor. This new method has had a major effect on the outcome achieved by certified businesses as seen by customers, shareholders, top management and workers. At present, both the customer and business needs of a company are being improved with this new "Process Approach".

Through working with dozens of businesses every year in attaining ISO 9001 certification since the year 2000, our consultants have developed three basic rules for implementing ISO in order to attain measurable, meaningful results from the investment:

It is a mistake for a business to make implementation of ISO for the first time very complicated. This results in procedures no one looks at, records nobody needs, training that doesn't affect the job. The reason behind this is commonly because of the implementers of the system taking a "better to be safe than sorry" approach since they do not truly understand what the auditors would look for during the audit. This will result in an increase in the current ISO certification cost while the value of the business has not increased.

Thus, try to limit the documentation and concentrate more on implementing those business needs and what is needed by the standard.

If you want to improve performance for both the customer and the company, you must improve on the procedures of the company and this is the second guideline. Therefore, you should implement everything to support the requirements of the clients and according to the company's operations. Companies could still comply with the certification's intention because they can utilize the general language of the ISO standard to tailor their QMS to particularly meet their needs.

The general rule-of-thumb is to work with a particular requirement until you could see how it helps your company and fits with the management approach of your organization.

The third guideline is based on an understanding that the worst reason to implement anything is only to show it to an auditor. If you have no other reason to implement something but to show the auditor then it is important to apply rules one and two. In order to meet ISO requirement, a flexible system should be developed and implemented to suit and add value to your business. Make certain that your ISO procedures and documents are simple enough to add value to your company. If you do so, the auditor would certainly be satisfied.