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How to Get ISO 9001 Certified Without Drowning in Paperwork

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Just as safety standards such as COR, OSHA, VPP, etc. ensure that companies take the necessary precautions to protect their employees, quality management systems (QMS) ensure that companies are providing their clients with high quality products. The International Organization of Standardization (ISO) develops worldwide recognized standards for quality management systems. The ISO 9001 standard “deals with the fundamentals of quality management systems, including the eight management principles” [1] which are: customer focus, leadership, involvement of people, process approach, system approach to management, continual improvement, factual approach to decision making and mutually beneficial supplier relationships. While the ISO 9001 has been criticised for requiring a great deal of paperwork, time and money, the benefits tend to outweigh the costs and advances in technology have helped to greatly reduce the amount of time and paperwork required to get certified.

Benefits of ISO 9001 Certification

There are two types of benefits your company will receive from the ISO 9001 certification. There are benefits to your organization’s operations as well as external marketing benefits.

Operational Benefits

ISO 9001 helps management enforce good business practices within your organization such as quality goals, properly training employees, controls for the production process and corrective actions process. As the ISO 9001 standard requires you to have all of these things in place, your business should benefit from: increased productivity, less scraping and reworking, higher employee satisfaction and continuous improvement, all of which should ultimately lead to an increase in profits.

Marketing/Sales Benefits

From a marketing perspective, since the ISO 9001 certification is an internationally recognized QMS, your organization will have a global competitive advantage over your uncertified competitors. It should also help you reach specific markets with higher standards for products. Furthermore, since your products will be of a higher quality, it should increase customer satisfaction and retention as well.

How to Get ISO 9001 Certified

While getting ISO 9001 certified will certainly be beneficial to your company, it does take a great deal of time and work to do so. Here’s a quick list of the work that needs to be completed in order to achieve the ISO 9001 certification.

1. Define Goals and Objectives Across the Organization

2. Prepare a Documented Quality Management System

3. Implement Proper Documentation and Corrective Action Processes

4. Train Employees to ISO 9001 Standards

5. Internal Audit

6. External Audit

Once you have passed the external audit, performed by a certified auditor of the ISO 9001 standard, your certification is good for a three year period, with external audits being completed annually. After the three year certification has come to an end, then the entire process needs to be repeated for re-certification.

Tools to Help You Get Certified

As mentioned above, the major criticism of the ISO 9001 standard is that it’s expensive, time consuming and creates a large administrative burden for the employees with all of the required documentation. Documentation is an integral part of ensuring that you are meeting the ISO 9001 standard. All of the required paperwork and the associated administrative work really slows down the process but here’s the thing… it doesn’t have to be that way.

Much like how safety software can help simplify the compliance process for safety professionals and reduce the administrative burden associated with maintaining compliance, the same can be said of ISO 9001. Currently, certain cloud software companies provide a step-by-step online solution for organizing, maintaining and updating the necessary documentation needed for ISO 9001 standard. Using electronic documentation rather than having paper records keeps all of your documents in one convenient place that is easy to find and eliminates the possibility of important documents getting lost or damage. Employee training records can even be tracked and managed electronically to ensure that everyone has the necessary training to fulfil the ISO 9001 requirements. This includes automated reminders sent when training is about to expire or further training is required to ensure that retraining dates are never missed.

Furthermore, software can help ensure all corrective actions are all properly documented and easily accessible for audits. With automated messages sent until the corrective action is completed, it can also ensure the closure of corrective actions as well. By reducing the paperwork and administrative burden of filing and organizing the documentation, software drastically reduces the pain of becoming ISO 9001 certified and allows your workers to focus on preparing the jobsite for passing the external audit.

Despite criticisms of the ISO 9001 standard being expensive, time consuming and requiring too much paperwork, it has been proven to be beneficial for improving a company’s production procedure and bottom line as well as giving companies a competitive advantage across the world. As we often notice in the safety world, maintaining compliance with set standards can be tedious but by taking advantage of the available technology, you can drastically reduce the administrative burden associated with achieving and maintaining the ISO 9001 standard.


[1] Tsim, Y.C.; Yeung, V.W.S.; Leung, Edgar T.C. (2002).
“An adaptation to ISO 9001:2000  for certified organisations”.
Managerial Auditing Journal 17 (5): 245. doi:10.1108/02686900210429669

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