If you’re in manufacturing, construction, energy, mining, or a variety of other industries, you probably care about quality management. It’s the core of your business. It helps you produce products and services as well as stay in business. Some organizations refer to this as a Quality management systems (QMS).
What is a quality management system?
QMS is about repeatable processes, documentation, training, and records. A quality management system typically has the following goals:
- Processes are streamlined for efficiency to reduce operating costs in terms of waste
- Technology and infrastructure systems are backed up and documented
- People are safer
- Better organizational security
- Resources are aligned to meet organizational goals and revenue targets
In other words, it’s everything.
It’s why many organizations have a quality department to help with everything from operations to marketing run smoothly. For well-run companies, they show how process improvements lead to reduced costs.
Sometimes, these organizations strive for ISO certification.
What is ISO?
ISO (International Standards Organization, in English) is a set of core standards that organizations are asked to adhere to.
Certification ensures your business meets certain quality and regulation guidelines. It’s why it’s a top concern for many companies as they strive to do business nationally and globally. In fact, because these standards apply to every country, it makes global business easier.
There are a variety of ISO standards. The ones you’ll need to meet depend on your goals and your industry.
A few examples of products and services that have been ISO certified range from infant car seats to cosmetics to oil tool equipment. It’s a wide range!
Why do organizations need ISO certification?
There are a few reasons why organizations need to be ISO certified.
- Customers. Some customers require suppliers to have an ISO certification for you to do business with them. The ISO certifications, to many, is a seal of quality that ensures they’re doing business with a reputable and sustainable company.
- Regulations. Some organizations have specific standards placed on them to sell products and services in a country or region. ISO considers standards across the world and unifies them.
- Competition. Some organizations want an edge on environmental and sustainable business practices. Certification gives them that boost.
How does ISO work?
Typically, companies hire consultants or ask their own quality management teams (if they have some) to begin a foray into certification. Even internal resources will need external ones to verify certification is met. The ISO group doesn’t provide the certification or the audit, just the standards. If your quality team doesn’t know where the start, begin with ISO.
Be prepared; it’s usually not a quick process. It may take more than once to certify, too.
When you’re ready, an audit happens. Either one of two scenarios happen: ISO certification is awarded or corrective actions are suggested/requested.
How bad is it if you don’t pass?
Well, your suppliers still might require it. If that’s the case, you may not be able to supply products until it’s completed.
Otherwise, if you don’t pass, it’s still typically a worthwhile effort. You’ll receive preventive and corrective actions and items you can focus on to ensure you reach it.
What are some tips to ensure passing
Some may seem obvious, but these should help you pass as you endeavor to get ISO certification:
- Build a coalition at work. Ensure resources are available and have appropriate priorities. Key groups for a successful certification process include Quality, Operations, Records Management, Document Management, and executives. For example, Records Management has ideas about how long documents should be retained. Customer Service can ensure great feedback about your products and services, as well as provide information about complaints.
- Do what’s asked of you. It may seem obvious, but auditors, quality employees, and consultants sometimes spend more time than necessary convincing a company what it needs to do. If you’re given preventive or corrective actions, do them. If the recommendations take a while, plan them out and use your coalition to help make it a priority.
- Have things in writing. ISO certification requires documentation for every process, procedure and more that’s core to your business. Intranets are perfect places to keep track of information. SharePoint intranets can perform document control features — a history of what information was updated, when and by whom.
- Conduct training. Make sure you have a repeatable process when it comes to training personnel. Keep track of who’s trained and who isn’t. A learning management system (LMS) or HR information system (HRIS) can help.
- Have backup systems. Even if you have security concerns and don’t want to have information in the cloud, you’ll need to prove backups, such as on-premises solutions, exist.
You may not have to have ISO certifications. It may not be in your organization’s best interests. Even if that’s true, having a quality organization with documentation, systems and training makes your business better — more compliant with regulations, safer, more secure, with increased customer satisfaction, more engaged employees, and higher quality products and services.
Let us show you an intranet that has document control where you can leverage your existing SharePoint technology. Best of all, it’s easy to find information, simple to update and doesn’t take as many IT resources to maintain.