How does certification work?
What is involved in achieving certification?
The Stages :
To start with, you need to get your system described. There are a number of activities which must be controlled by procedures. In addition, you must have written instructions where necessary. These can be flowcharts or written instructions, and can be in paper or electronic format or could be samples to be copied or any other relevant method which is adequate to explain the activities.
You must be careful about the level of content. It is no use producing a library full of detailed procedures and instructions if no-one reads them or no-one can understand them. You must also ensure that you address each section of the standard.
Next, you must begin the process of planned, regular, independent quality auditing. This can be conducted by your own in-house staff, but it may be better if it is conducted by a competent outsider whose word will carry more weight, as they will have no axe to grind, and should have the benefit of seeing other organisations conducting similar activities. An outside pair of eyes is usually much better at seeing problems straight away.
Now you can apply for accreditation by an ISO 9001 certification body.
Be aware: Many organisations “doing-it-themselves” fail on the first attempt.
Our record is 100% success! The cost of your failure could actually be more than we charge for the consultancy, so it really pays to let us help you!
Contact us for a free consultation visit or phone call, including a quote. We’ll be happy to discuss a plan tailored to your business.
How long does it take to achieve certification?
This will vary based on a number of factors including such considerations as the scope of your business, number of employees, etc. Our average time frame is 8-12 weeks, though circumstances often permit a shorter lead time. We will gladly discuss this with you in detail via a no obligation, free in-person consultation.
What will be involved in maintaining our certification status?
Following initial certification, you will enter a 3 year certification cycle. This will include an annual assessment. Prior to this assessment, you will be required to complete a series of internal audits and at least one management review.
The first and second year surveillance assessments will look at roughly half of the requirements of the standard in greater depth than the initial certification process. Most of these will be chosen randomly by the assessor, however, there are some areas, such as internal audits, which are customarily examined each time.
The third year will be a recertification audit which will require that all clauses of the standard have been audited internally and the assessment body will once again examine every clause in the standard.
Does it mean that we have to write everything down and have lots of new forms?
No. If you take careful note of what ISO 9001 requires, then you will be surprised at how lightweight its requirements actually are.
It is all too easy to make your system too complicated or inappropriate. Even professional consultants of many years standing can go overboard when producing an ISO 9001 system. But this quality standard does not require a complicated, burdensome system.
So why do we hear so many people saying that their ISO 9000 system is a mountain of paperwork, with endless forms?
Poor consultancy is often the cause. There are few controls on people calling themselves “consultants”. Many have little idea of what ISO 9001 actually requires. They bring along memories of what happened at their last company and seek to impose that upon their next client.
In other cases, there is a very human tendency to write down lots of minute detail about how a job is conducted. If you ask someone to write down how they make a cup of coffee, they will probably produce pages of instructions. However, if they were to ask “who is this aimed at?”, they might find that it is aimed at someone who already knows how to do it, with the exception of where the necessary supplies are stored. In that case, they could write down “Kettle is next to the cooker, coffee is found nearby in the labelled cannister, milk is in fridge, cups are in the cupboard over sink” and nothing else.
It takes real skill to produce small but relevant written procedures. It takes real knowledge to understand what ISO 9001 actually requires.
Will being certified require that businesses I trade with will need to have certification themselves? Do I need to review all of my suppliers?
The ISO 9001 standard has no requirement that all of your suppliers must be certified themselves though exceptions may apply with other standards such as AS 9100 which requires that all products be 100% traceable. If this applies to your business, we can certainly discuss it further, but for now, we’ll stay with the basics of ISO 9001.
There is a requirement that all suppliers who have the ability to influence the quality of the final product or service are reviewed prior to being used, but there is nothing in the standard that defines what this review must entail. It would be entirely up to you to determine what you require of your suppliers.