All companies have processes and management systems in place, but most companies don’t always follow these systems, which in turn might cause something to go wrong.
This could result in unhappy customers and perhaps even a lawsuit, which could have been prevented if they had a proper quality performance management system in place.
This is why it’s important for companies of any size to be ISO 9001:2008 certified.
Is ISO really for SMEs?
Contrary to popular belief, companies of any size can become ISO certified. LRQA Business Assurance’s Ian Osmond explains, “We have some fairly small companies who attain an ISO certificate. I would say any business with more than five employees could become compliant.
“It’s also becoming increasingly common for companies to require their vendors to be ISO compliant.”
What can it do for you?
ISO certification can take your business to the next level, according to Osmond.
A quality management system will help you:
- Improve your service to clients
- Streamline internal processes
- Become more efficient and meet business goals.
Not just for manufacturers
“There are so many misconceptions about ISO certification, and that is why I want to educate companies on the importance of ISO. Some individuals still think that you need to manufacture something to be ISO certified, which is not at all the case.”
Over and above ISO 9001, we also have OHSAS (occupational health and safety), EMS (environmental) and food safety standards.
The certification process
A typical certification process would entail the following:
Gap analysis. This is where assessors identify if there are major non-conformances based on the ISO standards. Based on the findings, feedback is given to the relevant person, be it the quality manager, MD or CEO. These results will determine when the Stage 1 visit will take place.
Stage 1 visit.This is a document review, where the assessor will look at all of the company’s processes and familiarise the different departments with what they need to do.
Stage 2 visit.The assessor does spot checks to see if the staff in the different departments are following the processes. This is followed by a meeting with management to give feedback on their findings.
Once the assessors have established that all the systems are to standard, LRQA issues the ISO 9001:2008 certificate, which is valid for 3 years. After issue of the certificate, LRQA conducts annual surveys.
Surveys. These are determined by the size of the business and are normally done once or twice a year. This is to ensure that the company is still following procedures and complying with ISO standards.
“We assist companies to follow their own systems and to be ISO compliant,” clarifies Osmond. “The assessments are based on the size of the company, with surveys are done on an annual basis.”
Assessors work closely with every division/department within a company to identify areas of improvement. They then assist to improve the existing management systems in order to achieve zero non-conformances.
The cost of becoming compliant is determined by the number of employees at a company and the number of sites that need to be assessed.