Keeping Up with ISO: ISO 9001:2015 Certification Takeaways



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One way to properly manage the moldmaking supply chain is to implement ISO guiding principles that govern every activity within a mold shop or molding facility. To that end, this column spent the past 12 months sharing knowledge, highlighting opportunities and spotlighting some of the rewards of making the move from ISO 9001:2008 to ISO 9001:2015, the latest revision to the standard. As the column draws to a close this month, here are some parting words of wisdom: my top 10 reasons why moldmakers and molders should become ISO 9001:2015-certified.

1. Meet customer requirements. Many companies seek ISO 9001 certification solely to satisfy the requirement of one customer. The customer states that it will only do business with vendors that are certified as ISO 9001-compliant, so to get (or keep) the business, a company needs that certification. The problem with these companies is that they’re looking for a short-term payoff instead of the long-term benefits of keeping a customer well-satisfied so that customer will come back again and again.
These companies don’t embrace the concept of quality through continual improvement. They don’t understand that continued customer satisfaction is the ultimate goal of a quality management system (QMS). In other words, these companies haven’t “bought into the program.” They may obtain a piece of paper (that ISO certificate) that claims ISO 9001 certification, but they end up not experiencing much actual quality or improvement. If you focus only on the immediate gain without putting the customer first, it will end up costing you much more in the long run. 

2. Get more revenue and business from new customers. Once you earn your ISO 9001 certification, you can advertise your quality certification and respond to requests for quotes (RFQ) from companies that make ISO 9001 certification a requirement. ISO 9001 certification can open up new markets that you were virtually unable to do business with prior to the certification.

3. Improve company and product quality. A QMS standard is all about quality so, of course, one result of adopting a QMS should be an improved level of quality for the entire organization, meaning every process and every product. There are many definitions of quality, but two of my favorite are from Philip Crosby and Joseph Juran. Crosby defines quality as “conformance to requirements,” and Juran calls it “fitness for use.” A well-designed, effectively implemented ISO 9001 QMS will put your company on the road to quality.

4. Increase customer satisfaction with your products. Quality means that whatever you produce will work as your customers expect. You will meet not only their stated requirements, but also more of their implied requirements. Quality also means far fewer complaints and doing a better job of resolving those complaints that you do receive. If your QMS is working correctly, you should know what your customers expect and you should be providing it, resulting in increased customer satisfaction.

5. Describe, understand and communicate your company processes. The ISO 9001 QMS standard requires that you identify and describe your processes using business metrics, the purpose of which is to better manage and control your business processes. Quality objectives form the center of your system. Metrics are used to understand and communicate your system’s performance relative to your quality objectives. If you make an honest attempt to conform to the requirements for getting ISO 9001 certification, you’ll learn more about your business.

6. Develop a professional culture and better employee morale. Implementing an ISO 9001 QMS can empower employees. Your QMS will provide your workforce with clear expectations (quality objectives and job descriptions); the tools to do their jobs (procedures and work instructions); and prompt, actionable feedback on their performance (process metrics). The result? An improved company culture and a more professional staff.

7. Improve the consistency of your operations. What is consistency? Well, one way to think of it is as decreased variation. Reducing the variation in your processes is the very definition of consistency. Is your customer better served by you supplying it with a consistent product (same dimensions, same weight, same tolerances, same output every time), or by your products being unpredictable and all over the place? 

Customers will not accept variation, so neither should you. The way to decrease variation is to increase control of your processes. Control comes from having a clear target to shoot for (objective), collecting data on the process (metrics) and understanding how to adjust the process (procedures and work instructions) to maintain the target output. If your ISO 9001 QMS is working, you should see increasing operational and product consistency.

8. Focus management and employees. This column defined quality objectives, metrics and procedures used within an ISO 9001 QMS. It also discussed how having the right objectives, metrics and procedures in place will allow management and employees to better focus on what is important. However, this is not always the case in practice. It’s easy to lose focus over a period of time.

The ISO 9001 QMS has a way to ensure a company stays focused. It is called quality auditing. This includes internal audits, third-party (and surveillance) audits and self-process audits. ISO 9001 certification requires that the company periodically audits its quality processes. Regular process audits and as-needed audits, when done correctly, provide the objective feedback needed to correct any deviations from the quality path and keep the company focused on its goals.

9. Improve efficiency, reduce waste and save money. An ISO 9001 QMS is not perfect. No process is. Why else would the standard devote a clause to “continual improvement?” However, a well-run QMS does enable your company to approach perfection. As your processes improve and become more consistent, you will begin to achieve your target objectives with greater regularity and see tangible results. For example, your process waste will decrease. Waste is money lost forever. Waste results from poor quality and inefficiency. Inefficiency results from variation and inconsistent processes. Reduce variation, improve consistency and you’ll have less waste, which means more money. It’s that simple.

10. Achieve international quality recognition. ISO 9001 is a worldwide standard administered by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) based in Switzerland. It is currently in use by thousands of organizations around the world, so it is truly a worldwide standard for quality. Obtaining ISO 9001 certification puts your company in a 
very select group.