ISO 9001 certification, which is the most desirable certification by the organizations and the only one of the ISO 9000 family, which you can be certified in, is the acknowledgement that your organization is having a well-organized quality management system in place. This certification is widely recognized all across the globe and customers show confidence in this certification. In this post, we will learn about the six steps, by following which an organization can get ISO certification easily. Before moving further let us know more about the ISO 9001 certification.
What is ISO 9001 Certification?
ISO 9001 is an international standard for defining the quality management system of any organization. This is one of the standards of ISO 9000 family. ISO 9000 series covers quality management. While there are few standards in this family, this is the only one which you can be certified in. Every organization seeking certification in quality management should have this certification. This standard was first published in 1987 and last updated on 2015. The standard details how the quality management system of your organization should be in place to produce quality products and services. It is customer focused and places an emphasis on continuous improvement and top management processes. The focus of this standard has now shifted to risk management. This standard is generic and can be used in any organization and across any sector.
Read more about ISO 9001 certification: What is ISO 9001 Certification and How it can be Obtained?
Six Steps for Getting ISO Certification
Step 1: Allocate Resources for the Certification
Getting ISO certification requires certain resources. Therefore, you should be ready to allocate necessary resources for the certification. This is only possible with the commitment of top management towards achieving the certification. The organization should analyze, whether it can go for the certification on its own or require any external consultant. Whatever is the case may be, certain resources are definitely needed and the organization should be ready to allocate them dedicatedly for the cause.
Step 2: Perform a Gap Analysis
ISO certification is a journey which transforms your organization for better. The most important thing towards this journey is to do a gap analysis. It means that understanding where the organization stands at present and how far it has to go? You should ask the following questions regarding this:
(a) How much time it will take?
(b) Which resources will be required?
(c) Whether you require any consultant or can do it in-house?
(d) How much will it cost?
Every organization is different in size, people, work culture, etc. and every organization’s systems are different. Therefore, the effort needed and resource requirement is different for every organization. Fixing a baseline and preparing a roadmap for achieving the certification is therefore crucial.
Step 3: Develop the System and Perform Internal Audit
The next step is to develop the system of your organization up to the standard of ISO certification. It means that your processes should be well documented, connected with each other and streamlined as per the ISO requirements. You may also need to develop new processes, new quality control systems and new policies as per the ISO standards.
The following need to be done to develop your system:
(a) Prepare Quality Policy Manual
(i) Understand ISO requirements
(ii) Write company’s vision and mission statements
(iii) Write basic quality policy manual outline
(iv) Complete first draft of quality policy manual
(v) Send copy of manual to customer desiring ISO 9000 compliance (if necessary)
(b) Prepare Operating Procedure
(i) Define responsivities, using quality manual as a guide
(ii) Outline the procedures
(iii) Fine tune the procedures
(iv) Compare operating procedures with quality manual for consistency
After developing your systems, the next thing is to audit the system internally. Before going for audit by external agencies, you need to identify the lapses and shortcomings in your system and modify them. You may then apply for ISO certification, if you find everything in order after a third party audit.
Step 4: Take a Formal Training on ISO 9001
If you are preparing for ISO certification on your own, then the management and the employees of the organization should have thorough understanding of all the requirements of ISO certification. Proper formal training of your staff is therefore crucial for getting this certification. There are many agencies in the industry which provide training in ISO certification.
Step 5: Appoint an Accredited Auditor
Once your organization’s quality management systems are established and developed, these have to be tested by an accredited auditor. There are many accredited certification agencies, which provide the certifications. You need to choose carefully the best auditor, that suits you. The auditor will review all areas of your system and identify the gaps in the system. You need to fill those gaps before applying to the ISO 9001 certification.
Step 6: Go Through Registration Procedure & Get the Certification
After going through all the above steps successfully, now it’s time to get the certification. Once your system is ready as per the requirements of ISO certification, you have to register for the certification. If everything is in order, you will get the certification. This journey doesn’t end here. Even after getting the certification, you need to continuously improve your processes to maintain your management system as per the ISO requirements.
Validity of ISO Certification
When you apply for an ISO certification, you will have to go through a certification body. Different certification bodies provide different services. Most certificates are valid for three years, although some must be renewed annually.
Regardless of how long your ISO certification is valid for; your organization will be subject to ongoing surveillance audits. These audits are normally conducted once in a year and they examine whether your quality management systems still effective.
Getting ISO certification is simple provide the management is committed to achieve the certification. You need to follow the above mentioned steps and register for the certification. The only thing is that you need to dedicate required resources for the certification. Getting ISO certification is not enough. You will have to continuously make improvement in your system. Your organization will be subject to ongoing surveillance audits. The auditors will check whether your management systems are still effective. This gives you an opportunity to maintain the quality of your management system which is really crucial to sustain in today’s competitive world.