Quality ISO 9001
Quality is simple all you need to do is make your customers happy, eliminate errors, provide a framework that workers can follow and create products or services people value.
Alright there is a bit more to it ….. Its safe to say though most successful organisations do quality well and do it intuitively regardless of formality around management systems or their knowledge of ISO9001. The most common thread to their success is usually commitment and we mean commitment from the top.
So why do we need Quality Certification? Isn’t it all about document control?
The main reason for Quality Certification is because external stakeholders like your customers, regulators and governments want an external independent assessment that you have a system in place that will deliver quality products and services. New customers before they select you want to know you have robust processes in place. Its also a good tool to help you improve, find efficiency and focus the organisation.
Certification of your Quality system is also a powerful marketing tool. You have done the hard yards implementing the system so show people you have a commitment to quality, to leadership, to a processes approach to delivering products or services and to meeting your customers’ expectations.
That’s where Compass Assurance Services comes in. We get it. Document Control may excite many auditors but it doesn’t excite you and the auditors visit may not be exactly the same as a visit to the dentist but then again its not top of your list.
ARE YOU READY FOR QUALITY MANAGEMENT?
What is ISO9001 Quality Assurance?
Quality Assurance stemmed from the realisation that delivering a quality product or service is actually good for business. It also evolved from the understanding that delivering a quality product or service does not just occur at the end of the delivery process – that is, on delivery to the customer – but it starts at the beginning and encompasses all the processes that go into making the product or performing the service.
Quality Assurance, at its simplest, is making sure your business fully understands what your customers want and makes sure you can deliver on those requirements efficiently.
Most businesses have their processes for product or service supply well defined and operating reasonably effectively. Nearly all, however, also acknowledge that there is always potential for improvements – and that’s where ISO9001 comes in.
ISO9001 is a structured approach for the key processes needed to deliver your product or service. ISO9001 defines what an effective Quality Management System should comprise. Starting with a statement of intent (Quality Policy), the ISO9001 structure is a guide to the suite of business processes proven to be effective in achieving your intended quality outcomes.
The business processes captured by ISO9001 are not solely focused on those that make your product or deliver your service, but cover peripheral, but no less important, business processes such as: internal and external communications, responding when things go awry, setting up specific measures to track performance, recording information to see where problems are occurring (more importantly, tracking tends to identify problems before they occur) and formalising a review of processes by senior management, amongst others.
When you think about it, a Quality Management System is a specialised communication tool – communicating with your customers to know what they want, communicating with your workers so they know what is required, communicating within the organisation itself so everyone knows what their role and responsibilities are, and communicating with management at all levels, through measurable indicators, so they can assess performance.
ISO9001 is an internationally recognised Standard that has evolved from a more prescriptive approach to that of defining the processes needed to focus on product and service quality. Effective implementation of ISO9001 has proven beneficial for a wide variety of companies all around the world.
What are the benefits of ISO9001 Quality Assurance?
Google ‘the benefits of ISO9001’ and you will find a whole range of potential benefits – some more tangible and practical than others.
Companies often initially seek certification for external reasons such as getting on preferred supplier’s lists, improving company image and responding to customer demands. The benefits of this are obvious – more work.
However, businesses have found that other benefits accrue from a well-implemented quality management system. These benefits include better management control and a structured foundation for improving how the business operates. Other benefits are: more meaningful relations with customers, improved knowledge of the business and improved organisation strategy and culture. Businesses that implement a quality management system know what they need to be doing, how they need to do it and checking to see if they are, in fact, doing it.
The most tangible benefits are increased profits resulting from reduced costs from more efficient processes, less defects and product returns or rework and new work from meeting tender requirements and meeting statutory and regulatory requirements.
Other less tangible benefits include:
1. Consistency of product through well defined and documented procedures,
2. Integrated measurement of quality
3. Efficient response to defect/errors and learning from issues,
4. Proactive assessment of quality with processes to catch issues before problems occur,
5. Documented procedures help new employees understand their roles and responsibilities,
6. Employees understand what the business is trying to achieve,
7. Employees understanding what they are expected to do,,
8. Management understands quality performance and can react to changing circumstances, and
9. Certification differentiates the business and demonstrates a commitment to a quality deliverable.
The successful realisation of all the benefits from a quality management system relies heavily on the reason it was initiated. If it was just to get the quality certification, and nothing else, then it will be harder to reap all the benefits. If the reason was a genuine desire to improve productivity and quality, and there is strong management commitment to ongoing support for the quality management system, then the benefits will come.
How can Compass help?
Compass Assurance Services steps you through the three-stage certification process from your initial enquiry to the final certification decision.
Our auditors are highly experienced and customer focused, and while we can’t help you develop your management system, we offer observations and opportunities for improvement based on our experience with many businesses and many different types of quality management systems.
After an affirmative certification decision, we issue your Certificate for you to proudly display in your office or worksite, and a digital logo for you to use on your website and letterhead.
In order to maintain certification, there is a re-certification audit every three years, which is similar to, but shorter than the Stage 2 audit. Also, annual surveillance audits are a requirement of certification. We have found that client’s welcome the review of how they are going from outside the organisation.
Just like you, Compass Assurance Services are certified and are regularly audited for compliance against the International Standard that governs Certification Bodies. So,like you, we need to have our business systems in place and effective. This assures you that the certification decision is robust and follows due process.
Top management buy-in and support is fundamental to implementing a Quality Management System…
Ensure you understand all of your internal and external requirements and have considered these in the development…
Implement the System
There is no golden rule to how to implement the system and every organisation’s requirements and circumstances will vary. But we have some key principles ….
Don’t wait until you believe your system is bullet proof or gold plated before engaging Compass Assurance Services to certify your system. …
Not all auditors and not all certification bodies are the same. We do things differently. We explain the process, we keep it simple, we only use the most skilled & experienced auditors who can communicate at all levels in your organisation and who will partner with you over the journey. Our auditors know their stuff but don’t pretend to know everything. We will share our experience and help you value add to your safety system at the same time as determining compliance.
We adapt based on your circumstances and objectives. We understand that organisations operating in high risk industries such as construction and mining require different outcomes from certification to an office based business that is just starting out on their safety journey.
We understand you want highly skilled safety auditors with experience in your industry, who understands your risks and hazards and your compliance issues.
- Customer Focus – understand what your clients want, engage with your customers and verify you are delivering what they wanted
- Management Focus and Leadership – unity of direction, purpose and focus. Creating an environment to achieve
- Worker engagement – a system for all people at all levels in the organisation
- Systematic Approach – realise and manage all the interrelated processes that go into your organisation
- Continual Improvement – strive to do things better
- Measurement & Analysis – factual approach to decision making
- Access to new markets, clients and revenue streams
- Provide your customers confidence in your products and services
- Improve the way you do things
- Reduce errors, waste and rework
- A systematic way of doing things throughout your business
Do you want to undertake your own gap analysis and understand just how ready your system is to be certified to ISO9001? Our self-assessment checklist has been developed as a simplified summary of the requirements of ISO9001 Quality Management System.
Have you got questions about the transition?
As we approach the change from the 2008 to the new 2015 standard for quality and environmental management system standards you will have questions about this change. Both ISO 9001:2008 Quality management systems and ISO 14001:2004 Environmental management systems have been updated to incorporate a wide range of changes for the new 2015 standard.
This helpful infographic gives answers to the most common questions about the changes, but if you need more details, contact Peter Henderson:
mobile: 0413 656 386
You can download a pdf version of the Transitions Questions image above as a PDF here.
Top management buy-in and support is fundamental to implementing a Quality Management System. Top management need to participate in the system through processes such as management review and need to demonstrate commitment to the system through customer focus and the Quality Policy; so get their commitment early and utilise their leadership to help you implement the system and ensure resources are available. This is the crucial first step that is often missed in medium or large organisations.
2. Understand Requirements
Ensure you understand all of your internal and external requirements and have considered these in the development of the system.
(a) Internal Requirements
Internal requirements include the organisational structure, responsibilities, relationships with clients and suppliers, existing policies, procedures and other management systems that may already be in place such as a safety or environmental management system. It also includes defining a scope for the system. The scope defines what is included and potentially excluded from the governance of the system. Will the scope include all processes at all sites and all subsidiary companies or are there valid reasons to exclude some things from the system.
(b) External Requirements
External requirements obviously includes the Quality Management Standard ISO 9001, but includes other regulatory and legislative requirements, industry requirements or other voluntary guidelines that you may subscribe to and requirements set down by your clients or government.
3. Implement the System
There is no golden rule to how to implement the system and every organisation’s requirements and circumstances will vary. But we have some key principles that may help.
(a) Engage people
The system can’t be implemented effectively in isolation from key people that will be need to be involved in the system. Help people understand what will be required of them and what impacts the system will have on the way they do things moving forward. Take their feedback on board and incorporate it into the system. This is a change management project and bringing people along with you is a key to success.
Utilise top management to help influence outcomes and set objectives. They have committed to the process so get them actively involved. You will also need a Project Manager / Consultant / Management Representative a single person responsible for seeing the project through to completion – it’s not to say they may not have other duties as well and if you are reading this it’s likely the person may be you!
(c) Fit for purpose
the system needs to be fit for purpose for your organisation. Even if you start with a readymade template or a software application, you need to adapt this so that it is specific to your business. You will not be able to achieve excellence with a generic system.
Check your progress along the way, set milestones and monitor completion of them. Don’t wait until you think your system is bullet proof and gold plated before you have it assessed. You will need to conduct internal audits so think about when these should be done and what aspects of the system are audited. Bring in your external auditors when you think you are 50-70% there and have them provide input as to where your system has gaps or non-conformances with the standard or other requirements
As per 3(d) don’t wait until you believe your system is bullet proof or gold plated before engaging Compass Assurance Services to certify your system. You may be disappointed to find there are still gaps or you have spent an enormous amount of energy on an aspect of the system that wasn’t required! An audit duration is calculated using processes based upon the IAF Mandatory Document 5 requirements and a consideration of your unique circumstances and business structure. The certification process generally requires a stage 1 and stage 2 audit. Your auditor is selected based upon their experience within your industry, the standard and auditing and leading teams. All of our auditors are selected based upon their skills, experience and ability to communicate effectively at all levels of an organisation. We aim to provide the most local auditor where we can to help you manage costs associated with any travel and accommodation that may be required. Your auditor will work with you to set an audit program that is suitable to your business, the scope of your system and meets all external requirements.
(a) Stage 1 Audit
Our philosophy is that it is often more useful to have the auditor start engaging with your system when you believe you have 50-70% of the system in place. This is often the best time to conduct the stage 1 audit or a preliminary gap audit. The audit generally focuses on Head Office and the key system aspects including reviewing your documentation (such as your Quality Manual, Quality Policy and other procedures) against the mandatory requirements of ISO 9001 Quality Standard. Findings such as non-conformances, areas of concern and opportunities for improvement will provide valuable input into the development and implementation of the system. All findings will be communicated to you through a closing meeting and the audit report.
(b) Stage 2 Audit
This audit is where the magic happens. This is the certification audit and the outcome is a recommendation by the Lead Auditor to Compass Assurance Services on whether certification should be granted or whether there is still some work required. This audit may be a day after the Stage 1 audit or up to 6 months after the Stage 1 audit, however most stage 2 audits occur 4-6 weeks after the initial audit. The duration between audits is really based upon the time required for you to adequately deal with any gaps or non-conformances identified at the first audit and the ability to schedule your required stakeholder to be available. Unlike the stage 1 audit implementation of the system is a key aspect of this audit. Our auditor will need to gather evidence of the system being used and implemented. This will involve engaging with workers at your various locations and in various roles associated with the system and the product realization process.
5. Certification Decision
If there are no non-conformances identified by the Lead Auditor at stage 2 audit then they will make a recommendation to a Compass Assurance Services Certification Manager that certification be granted. If there are some non-conformances still in place after the stage 2 audit then additional evidence will need to be supplied after the audit. This is often done by a review of additional evidence off-site by the auditor but under some circumstances an additional audit or time on-site may be required. The Certification Manager will review the recommendation of the Lead Auditor as well as the supporting material such as audit reports, audit programs, any action plans and make the certification decision. The Certification Manager may revert to the Lead Auditor or you for additional clarification or information regarding some findings or they may simply agree with the Lead Auditors recommendation and issue your certificate.
6. Post Certification
You will receive your certificate and have access to both our certification mark and the JAS-ANZ accreditation symbol to include on appropriate company material. It’s a good idea to demonstrate to your clients, workers and stakeholders that you operate a business with a certified Quality Management System. You’ve done all the hard work so why not make sure you realise the full value in the investment you have made in your system. It is a good idea to check our Certification Mark Policy or discuss with us how the certification marks or accreditation symbols may or may not be used. Your certificate is valid for 3 years, however this doesn’t mean that we won’t be seeing you for 3 years! Your auditor will have already worked with you on a 3 year plan which will specify the frequency of surveillance audits (typically annually or every 6 months) that will be required in order for your certificate to remain valid. Surveillance audits include a sample of key processes and sites to ensure the system remains compliant with ISO9001 and that certification of the system remains appropriate.
How we do business
Policy Statement At Compass Assurance Services (“Compass”), the quality of our services and satisfaction of our clients is the context for action we take. We embrace every opportunity to improve what we do for our clients and how we do it.
We are committed to:
- Maintaining an effective Quality Management System that assists us to comply with our requirements;
- Continually improving the effectiveness of the system;
- Ensuring the policy is accessible and understood within Compass;
- Reviewing our quality objectives and performance against these objectives on a regular basis.
- Ensuring we contribute to the credibility of certification
- Addressing the needs of all parties that rely upon our audit and certification services, not just our clients
Our Quality Objectives
- Ensure our quality management system complies with ISO 9001
- To review our quality objectives and performance against objectives regularly
- Ensure our vision and values are consistent with our Quality Management System
- To continually improve our system
Monitoring & Reporting
The effectiveness of this policy will be monitored. An annual review of its effectiveness will be made by the Board.
This policy is endorsed by the Board of Directors and the document is owned by the Managing Director.