If you are desperately looking for info about the ISO 9001 Standard, probably you are the owner of a small company and you are trying to make business with a big one, which requires a certificate about that to make business. This is the most usual scenario where companies try to gain its certification.

It is mandatory? There is some kind of law, act or legal document that forces to me to adopt that standard?

No. That kind of standards are produced by an international organization, the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and its members are national agencies of standardization (for example, ANSI in the USA, DIN in Germany -do you know the paper size DIN A4?- or BSI in the UK). Those national agencies can recommend to their governments to include a standard in its national rules, but in most times, the ISO standards are not obligatory.

Why should you adopt one of these standards?

Because it is better for your own business. Some big companies require the certificate to contract with them; sometimes it is mandatory in some public contracts and even sometimes will play in your favor in court, like a proof of your good performance.

It is just another expensive and useless document to be signed by a pedant technician?

If you are an absolutely customer-service-minded businessman, yes. Else, the audit will show you the weak points of your company, and you will discover how you are not so oriented to the final customer, but on your own product.

How can you get one of these?

Implement an ISO Standard is not easy nor cheap. In a first stage, you must hire a consulting company or create a new department (check at Bywater) to analyze your company, and determine the procedures that guarantee the quality of your production and the effectiveness of your customer care services.

In the second stage, a certified consultant must check, after a tough audit, if your new procedures meet the requirements of the standard.

Must you change your company to accomplish the ISO 9001 standard?

Probably yes. To adopt the 9001 means two basic changes:

  1. Internally, your production system must be described and rationalized to detect the quality breaches; not only the ones you actually now, but the future failures of your production system because it is necessary to create a protocol on how to react if something unexpected fails.
  2. Externally, your relationship with providers and customers will also change because you must create the channels to receive inputs about the quality of your product and/or service from the point of view of the client.

In both cases, the new system implies measurement tools that allow you to say something so strange as “This quarter we have satisfied the 92,4% of the customer complaints” or “When should have a 12% increase of the production quality to reduce the number of products returned by customers”.

Secondary effects

Once you proudly nail the certificate on the wall, your organization will be a different one. Your company is now customer centric and your employees have a new target: create the better product to reach the quality expectations of customers, and you can measure in which point of the company you should center your efforts to do it.