ISO 9001:2008 Certification Process and Benefits
ISO 9001 Standard Certification
ISO 9001:2008 is a set of requirements for a quality management system; a set of requirements against which a contract can be set, or against which your company can be audited. Meeting the requirements of ISO 9001 should ensure that you have in place systems and processes to ensure that product and services are delivered effectively and in a controlled and repeatable manner.
This article will run through who can audit you, how you will be audited and the benefits that you will gain from gaining your ISO certificate.
Meeting the requirements of ISO 9001 is often required for some companies as a prerequisite to supply and is stated as a contractual requirement. So these companies expect you to be certified to ISO 9001 as a requirement to supply. Without a certificate from a reputable certification company you will not gain the business.
ISO 9001 Quality Management System
ISO 9001 Certification Requirements
ISO 9001 requires that you put in place a documented quality management with an ISO 9001 Quality Manual and ISO 9001 Procedures to ensure that you control the processes within your organization to ensure that you achieve product and service conformance in a repeatable manner. It also requires that you put in place a system to measure your customer’s satisfaction with your services and products as well as continually improving your entire system.
ISO 9001 is a standard against which you can be certified, an independent third party can come in and check your conformance (or otherwise) through an audit process to this standard and issue you with a certificate of conformance to ISO 9001.
Continuous Quality Improvement ISO 9001
What is an ISO Certification Body?
A certification body is an independent organization which is accredited to perform certification audits to the requirements of ISO 9001. These certification bodies are the companies that your organization will contact to come and audit your company, some of the more well known are companies such as Lloyds Register (LRQA), BSI (British Standards Institute), Bureau Veritas, to name but a few.
These certification bodies are also approved by an accreditation body to approve their approach to auditing and issuing a certificate of conformance to ISO 9001. If a certification body is not “Accredited” then the certificate that they offer is not recognized, so beware of the cheap offers out there!
UKAS ISO 9001 Accreditation Body
What is an Accreditation Body for the Certification body?
An Accreditation body is the body that approves all of the certification bodies within a country, the accreditation body is a member of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and ensures that the certification bodies that asses your quality management system do so in an efficient and competent manner.
In the UK the Accreditation Body is UKAS (the United Kingdom Accreditation Service), they audit the certification bodies in the UK for approval to conduct certificatrion audits not just in the UK but in any IAF member country. You can tell if your certification body is approved by UKAS by checking their paperwork and certificates, it should carry the UKAS “Tick and Crown” logo with their registration number under it, so for instance your Lloyds Register ISO 9001 certificate should carry the Tick and crown logo with the registration no.001 under it.
Other countries have their own accreditation bodies such as EAC (European accreditation of Certification) and ANAB (ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board) in the US.
If your certification body is not approved by an accreditation body or the accreditation body is not part of the IAF then your certification is not officially recognized! Beware there are many companies out there that offer ISO 9001 certification as per their own standards or are accredited by equally as dubious accreditation bodies!
ISO 9001 Audit Process for certification.
ISO 9001 Certification Audit Process
The audit process is itself quite simple, if this is your first audit then you will have what they call a “document review” audit. During this audit the auditor will review all of the documentation that forms your quality management system to ensure that you have covered all aspects of the ISO 9001 requirements within the documentation. The auditor will also discuss with you the best way to conduct the audit of your actual process for your initial audit.
The initial audit will cover all aspects of your quality management system covered by ISO 9001, the auditor will plan a series of visits to each process to follow your processes through the company. He will ask questions and observe what you actually do, gathering evidence from records and other documents to support his findings. This audit can take just 1 or 2 days to several days with more than one auditor depending on the size of your organization.
The findings of this initial audit will be fed back to your management team at a closing meeting and if no major non-conformances have been found the auditor will recommend you for certification. The report will be sent back to the head office where it will be reviewed and within a few days you should receive your certificate to ISO 9001.
If the auditor finds issues with your system then he may issue a non-conformance, if these non-conformances are of a serious nature or they are multiple then it could delay your certification. The auditor will wish to see evidence of the closure of these problems before recommending you for certification, either by a follow up audit or through you sending the evidence if that is possible.
Once you are certified the certification body will audit you thereafter on a six monthly or annual basis, reviewing your entire system over a period of usually 3 years. They will expect to see evidence of continual improvement over this period as well as to find that you are following your system.
ISO 9001 Certification Audit Benefits
ISO 9001 Certification Audit Benefits
The audit process is an independent check of your systems and procedures to show if you are doing what you say that you should do and if it meets the requirements of ISO 9001, failure to this could potentially cause defective services and products to reach your customers or for internal processes to be inefficient costing you money. In addition to just auditing conformance the certifications auditor will also highlight opportunities for improvement and suggest where there may be better ways to do things.
If you are the quality representative (often the Quality manager) then it is also an ideal opportunity for you to influence the workings of the company for the better, most auditors will be happy to raise non-conformities and suggestions for improvement in areas that you identify need to be improved. Most management teams place a lot of weight on correcting the independent auditor’s findings, so initiatives that would have otherwise encountered huge resistance can be pushed through with greater ease by using the auditor’s findings!
ISO 9001 Certification process - The Audit
ISO and Quality Links
The following are some useful links that will help you gain additional information regarding the ISO 9000 standards;
International Organization for Standardization; This ISO home page will give you up to date information and news regarding new releases of quality standards such as ISO 9001 and ISO 9004.
Lloyds Register Quality Assurance; Lloyds Register Quality Assurance can offer training and help with ISO 9004 and ISO 9001, they are the oldest Certification body and are Number 1 on the UKAS list.
British Standards Institute; British Standards Institute have played a major part in the development of these international standards and is also a certification body that operates on a global basis.
The American Standards Organization; (ANSI) American Standards Organization offers services in the US in a similar way to BSI and LRQA.
International Register of Certified Auditors (IRCA); International Register of Certified Auditors can help you to discover if your trainers and auditors are registered and qualified to deliver the training and advice they are offering.
UKAS; United Kingdom Accreditation Service are the body that approve the certification and training bodies. If they are not registered then don't use them!
Chartered Quality Institute (CQI); The Chartered Quality Institute (Formerly the Institute of Quality Assurance) has much advice and help in all quality focused areas of business development.
American Society for Quality (ASQ); The American society for quality can provide support and help in the same way that the CQI in London can.
The above links can help with ISO 9000 Standards, ISO 9001, ISO 9004, Certification, auditing, Training, quality management systems, continuous quality improvement, etc.
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