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Tips for improving your ISO 9001 system

Updated on July 27, 2012

Problems with ISO 9001 based QMS

Chances are that some of you have been carrying the unwanted load of ISO 9001 system on your back either as an auditee, implementer or custodian and always wish if could get rid of this nonsense! It may be never unless you change your job. No company has the courage to withdraw from ISO certification once it has taken it. It is like conventional marriages in less developed societies where marriages are an life time phenomena. It is better to find out the ways to make the best use of it. It is the most misunderstood phenomena in business organizations. Some of the reasons for sorry state of affairs of ISO 9001 based QMS is given below:

- We limit the objective of QMS to certifying body auditors

- The organization is not existing for auditors but for customers

- Design the system with customers in mind, auditors will dwarf in size.

- The negative connotation of NCRs has played havoc with this beautiful system, everyone involved has taken an easy way out, ensuring so called compliance through fear of failure which is so well entrenched in most of the educated people through their schooling or education systems

- Let ISO 9001 is given a fresh air which will help in its blossoming and it will usher in a kind of spring in the organization..

- Know more than the auditors about the standard

- SOP /Procedure through group / collective efforts

- Focus

o It will improve your life

o The time wasted in managing others’ work can be saved

o Standards become managers

o Ultimate gainers will be all – employees, organization and customers

- Remove the word quality from your mind and substitute with “Performance” as desired.

Chances are that Most of the people associated with ISO 9000 QMS, directly or indirectly, fail to understand completely or have little understanding of the underlying philosophy of ISO 9000. The key reasons are the objectives in the mind of people who are associated with the various aspects of implementation of ISO 9000.

It is unfortunate that ISO 9000 could not be positioned where it became a tool by choice. In majority of the cases it is treated as something necessary w.r.t. market but cannot be avoided though being painful.

That is why all the ISO documentation try their best to insert the word ISO in the documentation as much as possible. The workforce may not like the overuse of a foreign word but the whole design is around the requirements of the auditor from the Certifying bodies.

As people of the organization are not at the center stage, the whole design moves the QMS away from the people who are supposed to use that for their own work. This has deprived ISO 9000 from its true values and added non value adding activities in the organization. From the perspective of Lean principles, ISO 9000 is a big waste in a majority of the organizations like given below.

Pitfalls – Non standard audits

Wasteful documentation

Dead SOPs

Certifying bodies not accountable

The QMS is a parallel activity

“It is not the seed but it is the soil which matters” and this is true for ISO 9001 also. Change the flavor of the closing meeting- Most likely the scene of a typical closing meeting is marked by a ghastly silence, the section in-charges mustering the courage to face the onslaught of management battering in cases of so called non conformities. It is generally a bitter experience and a key factor for alienating people from the ISO based QMS. The regular embarrassment or the fear of it makes people hate the ISO system. These abstract factors are not addressed while implementing ISO 9001 it gets reduced to a set of documents and records which generally gather dust except during the period of audits. It forces many a times to create false records to show the compliance. People are forced to lie which they do not like.


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    • LeanMan profile image

      Tony 4 years ago from At the Gemba

      Nice rant about why ISO does not work for many companies but where are the tips for improving the situation that your title promises?