For businesses and organisations to be successful over the long term, focusing on providing and maintaining quality products or services will help to ensure the growth and survival of the enterprise.

Quality is often defined as a product or service that meets or exceeds customer expectations.

Maintaining product and service quality will keep your existing customers coming back and help you to win new business by:
  • Improving customer satisfaction and referrals
  • Reducing returns and complaints
  • Helping to gain access to new markets
  • Building trust
  • Increasing sales and profitability.
Quality management is an ongoing process of continuous incremental improvements that will keep you ahead of your competitors.

To do this effectively your organisation could implement a quality management system that provides a method of controlling, measuring, tracking and continually improving processes.

One of the most internationally recognised quality management systems is ISO 9001:2015. Implementing a system such as ISO 9001 provides a framework of documented processes, procedures and controls to continually improve quality management.

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ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System (QMS)

A Quality Management System should encompass the strategic goals of the organisation and therefore needs the backing and leadership from top management.

Documentation provides the framework that will lead to performance-based measures and controls to keep track of progress against your objectives. For certification to ISO 9001 some documentation is mandatory. Your own internal auditor or ISO consultant will identify what is needed and will probably suggest a quality manual because this provides a logical template to help implement your QMS. Some organisations prefer their own documentation method and providing it has the necessary information, is logical and is communicated across the entire organisation, this can be just as effective.

Your own quality manual or documentation will reflect the size of your organisation and type of business and sector you are in. The important factor is that it works for you and becomes an integral part of your business not just a tick box exercise. To emphasise this, the recent ISO 9001:2008 to ISO 9001:2015 revision has prioritised managing processes over documentation.

Making your QMS more effective

iso9001-ukasMany organisations obtain ISO 9001 because their customers demand certification as a prerequisite of working with you. Gaining ISO 9001 certification saves a lot of time in the pre-qualification process of a tender by demonstrating that you have a recognised quality management system in place. Especially if it is audited by a certification body that has been accredited by UKAS. The benefit of having the UKAS crown and tick on your certification identifies that your QMS meets the high standards that will be expected by your customers. Some organisations will not accept your certification without it.

ISO 9001 QMS registration mark

Regardless of whether you have been asked to gain certification or not, your organisation will benefit from the structured approach to every aspect of your business to help it improve and grow.

Because the ISO 9001 quality manual is based on a general template, it provides a guide that can be tailored by individual organisations to meet their own requirements. For example, progress through your quality manual will provide processes and actions that when completed will give you an edge over your competitors.

These are some examples of the content sections that will help you do this:
  • Policy documentation
  • Internal influences, SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis
  • External influences, PESTLE (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental) analysis
  • Leadership
  • Management planning
  • Risk analysis, disaster recovery and continuity planning
  • Working procedures
  • Performance evaluation
  • Continual improvement.

Key stakeholders

Getting your key stakeholders involved in the quality management process through questionnaires and consultations will ensure their buy-in to establish and improve your quality management system.

Customers
Customer requirements will be paramount to quality objectives, finding out what their expectations are will be a priority for your quality policy document.

Management
The organisation’s Directors and managers need to be fully behind the implementation of ISO 9001. One of the other changes in the ISO 9001 revision was the importance of leadership from top management.

Employees
Your employees, contractors and sub-contractors will play an important role in your implementation of quality procedures, monitoring and reporting. Gaining their support and feedback for your quality management processes will make the implementation more effective.

Suppliers
Suppliers play a key role in ensuring your products or services are reliable and available when your customers need them. Involving them in your quality management procedures will ensure continuity of supply to your expected standards.

To find out more about implementing a quality management system, or the revision from ISO 9001:2008 to ISO 9001:2015, request a callback or get a quote.