ISO 9001 is one of the most recognizable published standards defined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). We often see the “ISO 9001 Certified” banners proudly displayed outside facilities that are certified. Many large organizations require that their suppliers be ISO 9001 certified
At first glance, the ISO certification might seem like an exhaustive and highly technical undertaking. The standard appears to dictate exactly how an organization should conduct its business. In reality, these standards have everything to do with creating a company culture centered around devotion to quality, it’ environment, safety , customer satisfaction and continuous improvement. These standards provide a roadmap to be a successful customer-focused organization.
How Does All of This Impact Culture?
A culture of quality begins with a clear understanding of the big picture. Clause 4 of ISO 9001 calls for companies to clearly define the context in which they operate, including products and services, the needs and expectations of various stakeholders, regulatory requirements and the identification of risks and controls to mitigate risks.
Clause 5 addresses the need for management commitment, as well as calling for the organization to establish clear, documented policies regarding quality and customer focus, internal communication, and organizational roles and responsibilities. A healthy culture of quality is predicated on top-down support from the executive management.
Of course top-down pronouncements are only part of the picture, though. The tools, structures, and processes must also be in place to support a quality culture. ISO 9001 clauses 6 through 9 cover the steps needed to effectively plan and implement quality practices throughout an organization.
This combination of top-down commitment to quality, with the foundational structures and processes needed for effective quality management will inevitably create an environment in which a culture of quality can flourish. In other words, people know what is expected of them, and they have the tools to get the job done right.
Continuous improvement is one of the foundational principles of ISO 9001. Clause 10 of the ISO 9001 standard addresses several specific topics related to continuous improvement, including nonconformance, corrective action, and creating an environment in which continuous improvement can thrive.
In many respects, continuous improvement is more a way of thinking than it is a specific system or process. It calls for people throughout the organization to step up and do their best, exploring ways to make existing processes better, and always striving for greater quality, efficiency, and safety. That’s the very essence of quality culture.
Whether your organization is already ISO 9001 certified, or just getting a quality management program off the ground, TQS Inc can help you in your journey of continuous improvement. We help companies automate, streamline, and improve their quality management processes. All of our clients achieve first time ISO certification Contact Vince Zottola Today we’d love to discuss your project with you.