ISO 9001 is a standard that is widely used for quality management systems in businesses around the world. It is in fact one of a larger set of ISO standards, all of which are designed to uphold and signal quality in a particular aspect of business.
The term ISO stands for the ‘International Organization for Standardization’. It is a global body which creates and maintains all ISO standards, with input from businesses and trade organisations from around the world.
The ISO 9001 standard provides guidelines and structure for the process by which products are created and delivered. The ISO 9001 document itself is around thirty pages long, and contains a number of specific guidelines and best practices for businesses seeking to uphold an effective quality management system.
ISO 9001 certification dictates that businesses perform in a certain way in a number of areas, for example:
- Keeping records of the complete journey taken by the raw materials as they’re transformed into products
- Creating systems to engage with customers through effective customer service, listening to and responding to complaints and feedback, and readily supplying product information
- Commitment to regular performance reviews, making use of meetings and internal assessments
ISO 9001 is not mandatory for any business, but it is often viewed as an investment. There is no doubt ISO 9001 certification will help your business to grow by improving its efficiency and boosting its productivity (not to mention improving customer satisfaction). However, the primary motivation for ISO 9001 applicants is to use the standard to increase business. Many B2B companies such as suppliers, distributors and retailers will only deal with ISO 9001-certified businesses. Certification is intended to act as a reliable signal of quality, giving assurance to people and companies that do business with the certified company.
The ISO 9001 standard is also designed to be flexible and nonspecific. It is formulated on a level such that it can apply to a wide range of businesses, independent of their size, product and cultural setting.
ISO 9001 and The Future
The International Standards Organisation (ISO) acknowledges its framework needs revision. It is in the process of reviewing ISO 9001 and what changes must be made to it over the coming years to ensure it’s seen as flexible, progressive and relevant.
Three of the changes suggested on its website are:
1. To improve written language used in its documentation to ensure ISO 9001 is understood by businesses
2. To review its processes and, by so doing, verify the framework is still suitable for all industries
3. Acknowledge in its guidance documentation the needs imposed by the new dynamic environments used by industries