ISO 9001 is an international quality standard which can be applied to any type and size of organisation, from small family-run businesses to the world's largest corporations and government institutions. It provides a structured yet flexible framework for a customer focused business management system that will drive business performance improvement.
The standard covers all aspects of an organisation's activities, including identifying its key processes, defining roles and responsibilities, policies and objectives, documentation requirements, the importance of understanding and meeting customer requirements, communication, resource requirements, training, product and process planning, design processes, purchasing, production and service, monitoring and measurement of products and processes, customer satisfaction, internal audit, management review, and improvement processes.
The Benefits of Implementing an ISO 9001 Quality Management System
Many organisations initially implemented ISO 9001 because they had to! Either their customers demanded it, or their competitors had it, making it imperative that they do the same to stay competitive. As time went by, however, these companies soon realised that if properly implemented, ISO 9001 gave them many significant and noticeable benefits.
For management, an important benefit has always been improved financial performance. Many studies have shown that companies implementing a quality management system have realised cost savings through improved process effectiveness and efficiency. In addition to benefiting the bottom line, companies also realize many other advantages, including improved employee and customer satisfaction, resulting from better defined and implemented business processes.
Some of the direct benefits achieved by ISO 9001 certified companies include:
• Improved financial performance - studies have consistently shown that ISO 9001 certified outperform non-certified companies
• Motivated staff, who understand their roles and how their work affects quality
• Improved product and service quality, leading to satisfied customers
• Improved management and operational processes, resulting in less waste (both time and materials), increased productivity, efficiency and cost savings
The derivative benefits are no less important, and include:
• Enhanced reputation
• Repeat business
• Ability to compete more effectively globally, both on quality and price
• Access to new markets
• Improved customer and supplier relationships
• Improved employee morale
• Improved management control