6 steps to get ISO 9001 certification for your business

April 10th, 2019 By Marketing

So, you’re interested in obtaining ISO 9001 certification for your business? Great choice! It’s a standard that prioritises meeting the requirements of your clients, improves the satisfaction of everyone that works for and trades with your company and works to better your processes, documentation and feedback systems.

By now, we’re sure you’re aware of the benefits but, if not, here’s why it’s a winner for your company:

  • The focus on employee satisfaction will mean it’ll improve your company success as happier employees mean happier clients.
  • You’ll be more efficient in all aspects of your business, from planning to production to delivery. This works out as more cost effective.
  • It has marketing advantages also, as ISO 9001 certification proves you are a credible organisation, setting you apart from your competitors. For more about why this is, read our blog.

Now you understand why achieving ISO 9001 standardisation is so important, you can be well on your way to completing the six steps to certification.

Step 1 – Set your objectives

Whilst reading the standard, highlight what you can gain by pinpointing what’s most relevant to your business. This could include:

  • Improving operations that make your processes more efficient. Is there a point of your supply chain that’s the weakest link? What’s slowing everything else down?
  • Increasing your bottom line. Identify and focus your efforts on the most profitable areas of the business, whilst cutting out the waste.
  • Entering new markets. Some clients (a lot of public sector work, for example) require ISO 9001 in order to trade.

Your objectives will enable you to create an action plan: If you need to hire someone to help you prepare for your future certification audit, will it be:

  • An internal auditor?

If you want to train someone from your team to become an ISO 9001 auditor, you’ll need to make a choice between online and offline training.

  • An external auditor? If so, how far do you need help from your consultant – will it be a project lead role or simply providing guidance? Read on for more tips on choosing your consultant.
  • An internal representative? This is someone who’s responsible for overseeing the project who will closely liaise with your auditor. They could be a quality manager or another senior management employee.

Contact IMSM today to arrange our certification services for your business.

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Step 2 – Perform a gap analysis

You may have seen the term ‘gap analysis’ in your ISO 9001 research, but what is it? A gap analysis is a review of existing documentation and management processes to help you assess how much work is needed to get you up to scratch with your ISO standard, as well as help you plan your project.

Your gap analysis will help you assess if you are:

Step 3 – Write and plan standard

When setting out the necessary procedures for achieving ISO 9001 certification, you’ll need to do so in a context that works for your business. Project lead: this is your time to shine. You’ll need to:

  • Know the standard and requirements inside out.
  • Consider how to interpret the standard in the context of your business.
  • Test out how to apply ISO 9001 methodology.
  • Devise the steps for implementation.

In terms of what needs to be standardised, those who perform the work should be those who help redesign the procedures. Their input will be more valuable than any overseer and, because their voice and opinions are being genuinely listened to, their motivation will increase.

In terms of further strengthening engagement, company-wide training should be a natural next step. Stakeholders need to get on board, so must be made clear of the benefits; present what’s required and what it’ll cost, allowing you to make senior management involvement explicit.

Employees will also want to know what the direct benefits of ISO 9001 standardisation will be, as well as what’s expected of them in terms of how they can help and how the feedback system works.

Step 4 – Compile documentation

Many consider this to be the most difficult step, but we’ve provided some tips to keep maintaining compliance as simple as possible:

  • Ensure technical requirements are readable, transferable and easy to understand as it’s all about keeping things user-friendly.
  • Your documentation needs to be contextual. When reviewing it, consider whether or not it fits the needs of your company: are operations and culture understood and considered? As aforementioned, ISO 9001 certification is not a generic, one-size-fits-all certification.
  • Find the middle ground: too much documentation creates complication, whereas too little leaves you without guidance.

You could include instructions, forms and clear policies in your documentation.

Step 5 – Time to audit

Your ISO 9001 certification will include two audits – your initial internal audit and your certification audit.

Your first audit needs a thorough inspection where you judge if everything is in-line with code prior to your certification audit. This is an opportunity to spot anything you may have missed as well as accept recommendations from your ISO 9001 auditor.

When you feel adequately prepared, a third party auditor from your chosen certification body will complete a site audit. As part of this, you’ll submit documents as evidence of your ISO 9001 procedures which will then be measured to see if the physical and written align.

The time this takes depends on the size and complexity of your organisation as well as the status of your management system prior to beginning the six steps of your ISO 9001 certification. Want to know how long it takes to achieve ISO 9001 certification?

Step 6 – Deliver continual improvement

ISO 9001 helps you maintain certification as it’s designed to continuously improve itself. Part of the standard involves receiving feedback from employees and clients, a procedure that’ll help you improve the retention of both – everyone appreciates being listened to! These processes are not just meant to impress your certification auditor: they’re for life and will better your business as a whole.

By following these steps, you’ll be certified with the ISO 9001 standard before you know it.

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For a free Quotation or On-Site presentation by an ISO Specialist, contact us today!

IMSM Ltd Head Office
The Gig House
Oxford Street
SN16 9AX

Tel: 01666 826 065
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