Originally, the quality assurance standard was created due to the Defence Industry’s need for standards for example, a company would be required to write down its procedures and get them inspected if it wants to supply the product to Ministry of Defence. It would then also be required to make sure that all employees follow the published procedures. ISO 9001 came into existence in 1960’s and has been evolved and updated over several revisions ever since.
The latest version of the standard was published in 2015 and reflects quality management good practice. The standard is far less rigid and is applicable across all and any industry. There are many different interpretations of the ISO 9001 standard and because of the earlier versions some common misunderstandings and myths persist. Let’s have a look at a few myths related to the standard.
Myth: It’s a Complicated and Time-Consuming Process
We need to look beyond the complexities as the aim behind implementation process is to put all procedures and documents in order so that the organisation is able to function in a more organised manner in the long-term. If the implementation process is stable and is monitored from the beginning, issues can be identified from the start and corrective measures can be put in place, hence, saving time and money. Though, it’s correct that earlier versions of the standard were a bit intricate, they are regularly updated for better overall efficiency.
Myth: Too Expensive to Implement & Maintain
There are initial costs associated with the implementation process but these costs can be far outweighed by the benefits of the system if used well. The core principal of ISO 9001 is to improve consistency and trace-ability within the organisation, thereby reducing redundancies and associated costs. Overall, successful implementation of the standard reduces costs through improving the management system and generates revenue through increased customer satisfaction.
Myth: ISO 9001 is Only for the Big Businesses & Manufacturers
The standard is intended to be a set of requirements that can be used by any company regardless the size and industry. In fact, it is advised to implement such standards as the organisation is growing rather than dealing with management system issues once the company has grown larger in size and operations. ISO standards are held by many large organisations across the globe but is just as well suited to small and medium level enterprises as well. Also, these standards are not directly applicable to a product or a service but are instead applicable to a company’s processes and management systems and can be used by any firm within any sector, be it a manufacturing enterprise, a software provider or a government organisation.
Myth: Everything Needs to be Documented and Requires a lot of Paperwork
While documentation of all aspects of the standard was required as per the older versions, this changed significantly since the standards have undergone various revisions. It is up to the company’s discretion to decide what needs to be documented to demonstrate compliance. Moreover, the flexibility of the standard allows enterprises to find a way of using it in a manner that suits them the best without any unnecessary paperwork or documentation.
Myth: It’s Only for the Quality Department to Manage and Implement ISO 9001
The requirements within the standard cover every aspect of the business; from planning through delivery and post-delivery of your products or service. The process starts with customer requirements, review and acceptance of the requirements, executing those requirements, measuring and monitoring processes to ensure requirements are being met; and ultimately, delivery of a product or service that meets those requirements to ensure customer satisfaction.
An effective ISO system is dependent on an organisation’s understanding of the standard and its ability to define, control and defend its procedures and workflows in accordance. There are myths about ISO 9001 as stated above, but ultimately the standard is all about defining, improving and measuring processes and offers numerous benefits by improving quality and efficiency in the long run, thereby outweighing any disadvantages.