Five Things to Consider Before Going for ISO 9001 or ISO 14001 Certification

Oct 10, 2014 | general, ISO 14001, before going for ISO 14001 or ISO9001 certification, I’d recommend asking some challenging questions. Twenty-five years’ experience in this industry has taught me that the following issues are foundational.

Step 1 – “Why”? Do you want to win a tender, or is a profitable customer pushing you for ISO 9001 or ISO 14001 ? If you business has grown rapidly, Perhaps many of your staff might not understand how the overall business works. So you need properly defined processes and procedures for them to follow, and discipline to make and do things well.

Whatever the reason, (and all the above are perfectly acceptable drivers for introducing an ISO standard), make sure you understand why you’ve made the decision. Getting an ISO certificate can be rapid and inexpensive. For instance, I have implemented ISO 9001 in small, basic businesses with only 2-3 days of my time, where the priority was to respond to a tender which mandated approval of a certain standard.

However, the processes put into place under these circumstances are very basic, and unlikely to be very helpful if the aim is to tighten internal processes and improve consistency throughout the business. Under these circumstances more time is required for a consultant to work with staff and gain their buy-in to the new ways of working. So, a quick fix and a certificate on the wall, or something more?

Step 2 – A Matter of Time. I’m frequently surprised by the number of customers who pay for my services, and then don’t have the time to listen to what I have to say, or adopt the “best practice” which they tell me they want in their businesses. Even if you have excellent, disciplined processes already in place within your business, gaining certification WILL need some of your time, as what you put in really does have a bearing on what you get out.

Step 3 – Take Up Modelling. Are you ready to be  SEEN to support and apply the system? If you pay mere lip service to the new Quality Management System, then revert to your old ways of working (whenever your consultant or auditor isn’t looking), your staff will notice. They will not take something seriously if you don’t “model” it. If you want the correct process followed, make sure you do yourself. If you want something checking before you ship it, don’t push your staff to despatch everything they can find on the last day of the month just to get the figures up.

Step 4 – What Gets Measured Gets Done. What do you want to achieve in terms of Quality or the Environment? Your policy MUST be underpinned by measurable objectives, which, I’ve observed, most senior management teams struggle with. Reflect on whether your business is getting too many customer complaints, or too many returned products. Have your neighbours moaned about the noise from your machines or the Environment Agency your emissions? What are your big issues? And how can you measure improvement? This is a great driver for real measures within a “standards” framework. No consultant will be able to dream up such actions – it needs a knowledge of the business, and the real problems which it faces every day. Which only you have.

Step 5 – Give me a call! ( I understand there are other consultants but you should really go for the best… ), I’ve been working in ISO systems for over 25 years, with some of the largest employers in the UK, and many of the smallest. In many different industries, from telecoms to pharmaceuticals, nuclear power generation to web site production, software engineering and basic fabrication. And I began my career on the shop floor in Nottingham, so know industry literally from the ground up. There’s much to tell, and I’d love to help.


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