Lots of individuals think that the ISO 9001 certification is just a process which compiles documents to show an\the auditor in order to acquire the certification. This is a common misunderstanding. If you ask the people who have worked with ISO in the past, they would say that the ISO standard then required too many documents and focused less on the outcome. So don't blame the many managers and business owners for thinking that this was just an additional cost and was not helpful to their business at all.

However, changes were recently made to the ISO standard. This time, the focus is more on the improvement of business processes rather than on compiling documents for the auditor. Shareholders, employees, customers and even top management of certified businesses see the positive effect of their achievements. This new "Process Approach" is a practical technique to align improvement efforts throughout the business with actual business and customer needs.

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 company to make implementation of ISO for the initial time very complex. This error can result in unnecessary procedures, records and job training. The reason behind this is commonly due to the implementers of the system taking a "better to be safe than sorry" approach because they do not truly know what the auditors would look for during the audit. Besides not adding to the value of the company, this will also increase the current ISO certification cost.

On the whole, effort should be made to limit the documentation and focus more on the implementation of those specially needed by both the business and the standard.

The second rule to implement is to focus on improving the company's procedures in order to improve performance for the clients and the business. Make certain that you implement everything to support the company's operations and the requirements of the clients. Companies could tailor their QMS to specifically meet their needs and still comply with the certification's intention because the ISO standard utilize general language.

It is vital to work with a specific requirement which is aligned with your management approach. Then find out if this would help your business.

The third guideline is based on an understanding that the worst reason to implement anything is merely to show it to the auditor. You should apply rules one and two if while talking about an ISO requirement you say that you have implemented something to show the auditor. While you surely need to develop a system that meets the ISO requirements, each requirement is flexible to be implemented in a way to suit your company - and to add measurable value to it. You should focus on adding value to your company and simplifying your ISO processes and documentation. It is important to do so if you want the auditor to be satisfied.