ISO 9001 made easy...

ISO 9001 is the international standard for quality, recognised throughout the world and endorsed by the International Standards Organisation (ISO).

In many industries ISO 9001 is a prerequisite for suppliers.  Many government departments and and larger purchasers require that their suppliers are accredited to ISO 9001 in order to assure them that they are dealing with quality organisations.  ISO is becoming increasingly popular and third party certification bodies provide independent confirmation that organisations meet the stringent international standards. Over a million organisations worldwide are independently certified, making ISO 9001 one of the most widely used management tools in the world today. 

As the ISO 9001 is generally referred to as a “quality standard” it might be more accurately referred to as a “management systems and processes” standard.

Confused?  Don’t be!  It’s pretty easy to get your head around it when you look at it like this - in order to achieve ISO 9001 you need:

  •  - An overarching policy in your approach to achieving quality within your organisation.
  • - You need to identify, implement and review a number of objectives that will help you to achieve your overarching quality goal.
  • - You need to reference each requirement of ISO 9001 in how you will address these “clauses”.
  • - You need to have a robust and effective mechanism for dealing with things when they go wrong.
  • - You need to review the effectiveness of your systems and approaches.

Unfortunately, too many organisations get bogged down in the bureaucracy of the above and fail to focus upon what really matters: ensuring they deliver consistently high quality product or service to their customers.

Quite often these organisations have seemingly endless policies, procedures, and countless other documents that add little or no value to the organisation or its customers.

There are, however, some organisations that have implemented ISO 9001 in an extremely effective manner and with minimal bureaucracy.  Here are some of the secrets of their success:

- Don’t implement ISO 9001 in isolation, engage and involve people at all levels in the process.

- Use flowcharts and process maps where possible instead of text-heavy policies, manuals and procedures.  Flowcharts and process maps are easy to follow, visually appealing and they’re more engaging for the user.

- Process map or key tasks and functions within each department or area of the business so that you have a “blueprint” for the business.  You don’t need to go overboard here and develop one hundred plus flowcharts and process maps for each department or area of the business.  All you need do is to add process maps for core functions and processes that are essential to the functioning of that particular department or area.

- The best people to develop these process maps are the people who do the jobs themselves and an added benefit of this approach is that in addition to being able to ensure exactly what processes currently being developed are the people who do the jobs on a day to basis will be able to identify how these processes could be improved.

By implementing the above you will undoubtedly streamline the implementation of ISO 9001 and maximise the value added to your organisation and to its customers.  I would be happy to answer any specific questions personally so don’t hesitate to contact me on

Martin Rice