How to ensure your ISO certification is “done right” to achieve real business value

Your first thoughts about commencing the ISO certification process may be that it is very difficult and daunting and of dubious value to your business (except to win the tender/ get the certificate of course).  While this can often be the case if the process is poorly planned and understood there is no reason why it should be if you understand a few simple principles.

Last week, while preparing this topic, I stumbled upon an excellent article titled “ISO 9000 Done Right! Leveraging ISO 9001 to Achieve Real Business Value” – which turns out to be a great (if rather long) compilation of many of the tips I routinely give to prospects and clients to get their ISO project off to the right start and squeeze the maximum value out of it.

For those time-poor among you (Is anyone truly not in this category?!), I have condensed the key tips and added some of my own for you below including the author’s “three magic pills” to achieve genuine value from the ISO certification process. There are links through the article and at the end if you wish to delve deeper into any section. The article is primarily about Quality but the principles apply across the board for all management systems.

The three magic pills to achieving genuine value from the ISO implementation and certification process:

Magic pill 1

Keep it simple!
If you make processes and procedures too complicated, (or document EVERYTHING just in case)  your system becomes cumbersome and expensive to maintain. It will get in the way of getting the job done and be resented by staff and / or ignored- especially when pressure is on.
This often occurs because:
o   Of a misunderstanding of the requirements (it is simply not necessary to document everything in order to comply- there are many creative ways to reduce documentation down to an absolute minimum)
o   Copying a ”big company” approach in a small company (every business is different)
o   Carry over from the approach used for previous (more document-heavy) versions e.g. ISO 9002
How to keep it simple
o   Minimise the number of documents
o   Stay focused on what your business needs to grow and incorporate the basic requirements of ISO and build from there
o   Automate where possible
Find out more about these strategies by visiting this webpage.

Magic pill 2

Focus on business value
The whole purpose of the ISO certification process is to implement management systems that reflect best practice and that the management team utilise within the operations of the organisation.  This then results in a genuine increase in value that means the organisation can gain a significant competitive advantage in their market as reflected by an improvement in customer satisfaction and the bottom line.  Too often an organisation will focus on just ensuring compliance occurs and not about the business success and value that can be derived.
How to drive business value
o   Focus on the customer, NOT compliance and especially not the auditor
o   Ask the right questions to get the most value out of every required element including the dreaded “management review”!
o   Use ISO to delight your customer and improve efficiency by working primarily on business-critical processes.
Find out more about these strategies by visiting this webpage.

Magic pill 3

Never do anything to just show an auditor!
Don’t do anything just for the sake of the auditor because you think they will want to see it.
Instead, always ask:
o   How can we ensure our company benefits from implementing this requirement?
o   What problems can we solve or avoid?
o   How will we better serve our customers?
o   What can we do to reduce the time and resources needed?
o   Is there a way to simplify our approach?
o   Have we selected the right processes to manage and objectives to meet?
Find out more about these strategies by visiting this webpage.
Remember that ISO 9001 is a general framework of good quality practice, not an exact script to be followed by every business.  ISO 9001 is made up of only 7 compulsory documents which include a quality manual and 6 administrative procedures (and even these can be combined and made very simple).  You then determine any additional processes or procedures that you believe are needed by your companyGood auditors do not walk in the door with a prescriptive list of requirements that you must meet.
Follow these steps and you will find the ISO certification process will be a lot easier and will result in genuine benefits for the ongoing success of your organisation.
At Integrated Compliance Solutions, our consultants specialise in standards such as ISO 9001, AS 9100, ISO 14001, ISO 45001 and ISO 13485. To find out more about how we can help you become certified, get in touch with our expert team today.

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