What is ISO 9001?
ISO 9001 was first published in 1987 by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). ISO provides requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose. ISO 9001 is recognized worldwide and used by large and/or small businesses to monitor and improve its business practices through a Quality Management System (QMS). The latest edition of the ISO 9001 standard is ISO 9001:2015.
Many companies avoid or procrastinate pursuing ISO 9001 because they believe it is too challenging and time consuming. A common misconception is that implementing a company-wide set of quality processes is too overwhelming and costly compared to the benefits the company would gain. In other words, “Things seem fine as they are.”
However, as the Quality Lead at Water Standard, I have identified some significant benefits of being an ISO 9001:2015 certified company. I hope they help you recognize that the pros of implementing quality processes and pursuing an ISO 9001 certification are worth the initial time and resource investment.
I have highlighted 6 benefits of an ISO 9001 certification below:
Of course, customer satisfaction is every company’s end goal. However, sometimes it is easier said than done. ISO 9001 provides a great set of guidelines and standards to achieve and improve consistent customer satisfaction during all phases of a project or process. By implementing a QMS program, you will provide your employees with the tools your company needs to succeed. When we first explored the ISO 9001 world, we were pleasantly surprised by how effective the program is and how it highlights customer satisfaction at the beginning of our processes, rather than just addressing it at the end. This helps keep it as our focus every step of the way.
Many companies (including our own) have found that by starting the process of implementing ISO 9001, there is a company-wide shift in focus. Management and employees alike look at the business as a whole, to determine how their processes interact with one another and learn how to proactively identify gaps that can potentially create problems with final products and services. Inefficiencies are identified and addressed immediately, keeping operations flowing more smoothly.
Peace of Mind
As a global leader in water treatment for the energy industry, we do find that it can be challenging to compete internationally for a number of reasons. From my experience, one example is the language barrier. Since ISO 9001 speaks for itself, being ISO 9001:2015 certified sets the tone that our business understands quality. If you become ISO certified, your clients will understand you have a Quality Management System that works and is continually monitored. Because of this, local and international clients will be more inclined to do business with your company.
In many industries, such as with the oil and gas operators that we serve, when clients are vetting suppliers, a valid ISO 9001 certificate might be a prerequisite to doing business. But even if it is not and actual requirement, your company will be viewed as a reputable source when it comes to delivering a product or service that meets client expectations.
By obtaining ISO 9001 certification, future clients are less inclined to audit your company’s processes since ISO requires annual internal audits of your processes (as well an external ISO 9001 certified audit) in order to retain certification. Clients that work with ISO 9001 certified companies are reassured they will receive a quality product. Not only does this build client confidence, it will help your company as well because the process to receive and maintain the certification minimizes costly mistakes, which in turn, builds your reputation and improves your place in the market.
This is one of the biggest benefits of ISO because it helps companies stay laser-focused on improvement. One example of how ISO 9001 helps with this, is the standard requires the practice of Risk Based Thinking (from all employees, not just management) to assess risks and opportunities for improvement that could potentially arise. This empowers employees who might have better insight on the daily processes and gives them the opportunity to provide solutions for more consistent results and overall better performance. And let’s face it – who doesn’t want that?
So to simplify things, think of ISO 9001 as a rules and regulations book for sports and think of your written procedures as your play book. ISO 9001 is a great guide to follow when creating your company procedures, but it doesn’t force a play by play of each of your processes. As a company, you decide the plays for each member on your team and then the ISO 9001 Standard holds you to them. It’s the perfect checks and balances. In the end, you will have happy customers, engaged employees, and processes that benefit both your company and your clients.
Here are some helpful resources to get you started! If you have any questions, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn!
About Sophie Recio
Sophie has been an integral part of the Water Standard family for 5 years and successfully led our team through the annual re-certification process for ISO 9001:2015 earlier this year. Her ability to tackle projects head on, is what prompted the company to propose her as our Quality Lead and we’ve never looked back. The Water Standard and Monarch Separators team appreciate her proactive approach to quality and her willingness to collaborate with each department to ensure we are continually improving our procedures and processes to meet clients’ expectations. We also love her quick wit and all her fashion advice! Fun fact about Sophie: In addition to her obsession with quality, Sophie also has an obsession with shoes! With 87 pairs of shoes in her closet, she’s on her way to reaching 100 pairs of “favorite” shoes by the end of this year! See, “quality” can be fun!