How Useful are ISO 9001 Quality Management Standards to Your Business?

by Craig Anthony

3 min read

If you’re considering exporting a product or service to foreign markets, gaining certification for the international quality standard ISO 9001:2015 can help maximize your success. Achieving this certificate is a requirement of some sectors and clients before they will consider doing business with you. More than 1.1 million certificates have already been issued globally. But what exactly is this standard, and how does it relate to existing standard operating procedures?

What is ISO 9001:2015?

The International Organization for Standards (ISO) 9001 is a quality management systems standard that aims to improve business efficiency by ensuring customers receive products or services to a consistently good standard. It is generic and can apply to any organization of any size or type. It was first introduced in 1987 and, like all ISO standards, it is subject to regular revision to reflect the changes in technology and global commerce. The current standard ISO 9001:2015, replaces the one published in 2008. The revisions took three years to accomplish with input from hundreds of experts from around the world.

The Seven Core Quality Management Principles

ISO 9001 is based on seven core quality management principles:

  1. Customer focus: Put customers’ needs first and aim to exceed their expectations.
  2. Leadership: Top management clarify and communicate the company’s mission, vision and values to all employees; strive to set and meet the highest standards, and drive quality improvements
  3. Engagement: Engage and empower employees to work in the most effective and efficient way to achieve the company’s business objectives.
  4. Process approach: The company’s processes are designed to achieve the desired results and managed to ensure consistently high-quality service or products.
  5. Improvement: Business processes are under constant review, and managers actively seek out and act on feedback to bring about improvements.
  6. Evidence-based decision making: Informed decisions are taken based on available data and a thorough analysis of the risks and opportunities.
  7. Relationship management: The company develops and maintains effective and professional working relationships with everyone involved in the success of the business, including employees, customers, and suppliers.

What Are the Main Revisions to 9001:2015?

The revised 9001:2015 standard:

  • Makes it easier for a small business to implement the standard, even if it doesn’t have staff dedicated to quality management and improvement.
  • No longer requires a formal quality manual.
  • Brings a new emphasis on risk management principles that encourages companies to become more proactive.

What Are the Benefits of Gaining ISO 9001 Certification?

Working towards ISO 9001 certification makes a company develop an effective quality management system and use it as a foundation for operating the business. The standard’s focus on consistently meeting customers’ expectations helps drive up quality improvement, leading to greater customer satisfaction and repeat business. Formal certification signals to national and international clients that you can be trusted to meet statutory and regulatory requirements, letting you expand into new markets and take on fresh clients.

How Does ISO 9001 Relate to Standard Operating Procedures?

Standard operating procedures are step-by-step instructions that provide employees with clear guidelines on how to carry out a job or process. Adherence to these procedures helps ensure your business delivers a product or service to the same consistently high standards. This links to the fourth quality management principle – the process approach. If you do nothing else in relation to ISO 9001, implementing standard operating procedures can help control quality, saving time and money by providing a reference point that helps onboard new hires quickly and effectively.

How Do You Get Started?

If you decide to go ahead, the Canadian government offers funding to help businesses achieve 9001:2015 certification or upgrade from the previous ISO 9001:2008 standards. Make sure to get your leadership team on board, and implement training to ensure all employees are supportive and understand the benefits. As you move towards certification, your company can enjoy greater efficiency and increased customer satisfaction. After certification, you can confidently start taking on the world.

References & Resources

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