How Can You Get the Most from Your ISO Certification?
What is an ISO9001 certification? Nearly all people believe that it is a process of compiling documents for the auditor to see so that a certification would be issued. This is not true. If you ask the people who have worked with ISO in the past, they will say that the ISO standard then needed too many documents and concentrated less on the results. A lot of business owners and managers considered this just a basic overhead expenditure to the business with no measurable advantage.

However, changes were recently made to the ISO standard. This time, the focus is more on improving business processes instead of compiling documentation for the auditor. This new method has had a significant effect on the results obtained by certified businesses as seen by customers, top management, shareholders and employees. We are now working hard to improve both the business and customer requirements of a business.

Through working with lots of businesses every year in achieving ISO9001 certification ever since 2000, our consultants have developed three basic guidelines for implementing ISO in order to attain measurable, meaningful outcome from the investment:

The most common "mistake" we've seen companies make in implementing ISO for the initial time is to make it too complex. Job training, records and procedures nobody would look at could be the result of this error. You see individuals who implement the system would rather be "safe than sorry" since they truly do not know what the auditor would look for. This will result in an increase in the present ISO certification cost while the value of the business has not increased.

That is why focus should be more on those specially required by both the company and the standard and less on the documentation.

The second rule is to improve performance for both the business and the customer and this could be attained by improving the company's procedures. This means that everything which is implemented should be scrutinized to be certain it is aligned with your company's ways of operation and the requirements of your clients. Businesses can tailor their QMS to specifically meet their requirements and still comply with the certification's intention because the ISO standard utilize general language.

Your business must benefit from the outcome of working with a particular requirement that is aligned with your management approach.

The third guideline is based on an understanding that the worst reason to implement something is just to show it to an auditor. If an ISO requirement is being discussed during your implementation and a remark is made such as "I don't know why we are implementing this but we need to do it to please the auditor", then return to rules one and two above. While you certainly have to develop a system which meets the ISO requirements, every requirement is flexible to be implemented in a way to suit your business - and to add measurable value to it. You must concentrate on adding value to your business and simplifying your ISO procedures and documentation. It is essential to do so if you want the auditor to be pleased.