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ISO Standards

Quality Management Systems – requirements.

What you need to know about complying with ISO 9001

What’s It All About?

ISO 9001 was the first of all the Management System Standards to be written, introduced as BS5750 in the late 70’s. Seriously criticised at the time, the UK government had backed its development,and Prime Minister Thatcher had championed it, so it was forced down through chains of suppliers, despite opposition.

However, several revisions later, ISO 9001:2008 is far easier to comply with, relying much less on paperwork and documentation.

A new “2015/16” final draft version of ISO 9001 was released in September 2015 (read more here and here!). We are now migrating our clients to the new standard. Contact us for more details, including estimates of work required to make the transition.

It has even less dependence on documented processes, the emphasis now resting on assessment of the risks and dangers to the business of poorly managed or inconsistent processes. So, it’s further evolution of the original standard, and not completely new thinking. Happily, it continues it’s trend of addressing “real world”, genuine business risks.

Why would my business want approval against this standard?

ISO 9001 is virtually mandatory if you want to supply government or local government based bodies. This is also true for many large procurement organisations. Lack of ISO 9001 can exclude you from processes at the very first stage!

Also, most tenders request this standard. An ability to demonstrate that you are certified by a UKAS accredited certification body will give significant credit during the tender adjudication processes. Put simply, it improves your chances of success.  The costs of attaining ISO 9001 can sometimes be recouped in one win.

Most procurement organisations have performance and quality monitors and/or targets in place which include the performance of suppliers and sub-contractors. So, formal objectives and targets can help here, because your customer may be dependent on your specific performance to meet their overall targets,

Quality has few (if any) legislative requirements, unlike Environmental or Health and Safety Management. However, poor or inconsistent quality of services/products can cause your customers to choose your competitors as suppliers. Despite use of customer satisfaction surveys etc. it will be very difficult to find out precisely why they are no longer your customers. A Quality Management System, based on ISO 9001, should ensure that you know the condition and suitability of the services/goods being delivered.

How long would it take us to become approved?

This is dependent on what you do and how you do it! However, it’s often possible  produce a bespoke Quality Management System, written around your organisations’s activities, audit the implementation to ensure compliance, and have it certified by an accredited body with 5- 6 days of our time. Implementation can be achieved within 6-8 weeks or even less.

What should I need to do?

Firstly, you need to define what you aim to achieve in a Policy Statement.  This is then approved by your senior management team. It is vital that this is linked to shared, clear, measurable objectives, which will show how your system, (and hence your business) is performing.

A manual is created, which explains how the system should be produced, outlining its composition and relationship to supporting documents. Six procedures then need to be written and implemented (these are mandatory requirements of ISO 9001). Other working practices may also require documentation if control of them is essential for the production of consistent products or services.

These mandatory documented procedures are: Document & Data Control, Record Control, Control of Non-Compliance, Corrective Action, Preventive Action, and Internal Audit. What specifically needs to go into each of these procedures is provided in the standard itself.

What is this likely to cost?

Fees are based on a daily rate, and each business is different!. The days required are typically 5-6 days for a small business. Final certification by a UKAS approved body is likely to cost £ 4-5000 , a certificate being valid for three years.

For more details and guidance in gaining the necessary certifications, please contact ISO Consultants.

A Free PDF Download on the ISO 9001 standard is available here.

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