What is ISO 9001:2015?

Found yourself wondering what ISO 9001 is? Can’t quite figure out whether it’s right for your organisation? Whatever aspect of ISO 9001 you’re interested in, you’ve found the right place.

We’re going to look at the what, the why, and the history of the elusive ISO 9001.

Let’s start with the “what”.

What is ISO 9001:2015?

ISO 9001 is the international standard for any quality management system (otherwise known as a QMS). To become “ISO 9001 Certified” your business has to meet the specific criteria stated in the ISO 9001 Standard.

Organisations use it to prove to their customers that they provide reliable, high-quality products, or services and that they’re willing to continuously improve their offerings.

A More In-Depth Look at ISO 9001:2015

While there are a lot of documents in the ISO 9000 Family of Standards, the only one requiring any kind of certification is the ISO 9001.

Generally speaking, an entire company will look to gain the certificate. However, the scope of the standard can be changed by a particular department.

Currently, the version that you need to adhere to is ISO 9001:2015. Here are some useful points to note as you move on to learn even more about this standard:

  • There is no “ISO 9000 Certificate”. Only the ISO 9001 certificate exists.
  • It’s not a membership group or entity. You can’t simply sign up. Instead, your organisation will need to do the following:
        • Take steps to include the ISO 9001 quality management system in your organisation.
        • Allow a Certification Body to audit your organisation against the ISO 9001 requirements.
        • If you pass this audit, you’ll be given registration for three years. You have to re-register after that.

The ISO 9001:2015 Requirements

In ISO 9001, there are 10 clauses that your organisation’s or department’s QMS (Quality Management System) must adhere to in order to gain certification.

These sections are extremely detailed and can vary depending on the industry. However, we’ll look at the basic overview of each clause so you can gain a better understanding of the criteria.

  • Scope — Defines the scope of the current 9001 standard including a list of all requirements.
  • References — Lists the standards supported by the current 9001.
  • Terms — Defines the terms used throughout the standard.
  • Context — Relates to how your organisation determines the objectives and scope of your QMS.
  • Leadership — Refers to how leadership is responsible for communicating the quality procedures.
  • Planning— Addresses opportunities, quality objectives, changes, and risks.
  • Support — The resources required for the QMS and ensures all employees are aware of all relevant information.
  • Operation — Relates to the plan and control procedures required to meet the right standards for services/products.
  • Evaluation — To qualify for ISO 9001, your company must use your QMS to effectively monitor and analyse the QMS itself as well as the business processes.
  • Improvement — Everything pertaining to continuous improvement. 

Now you’re more aware of the ins and outs of ISO 9001, let’s take a look at its origin.

A Brief History of the ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System

The ISO 9001 standard can be traced back to the 1950s when both the UK and US governments started implementing standards for the military. At this stage, the standard was only used for large companies supplying the military to ensure a specific quality was always met.

This led to the creation of mutual recognition within the defence industry. What was this called? The NATO AQAP and MIL-Q.

In 1979, the BS5750, a quality management system standard, was created. This proved to be incredibly successful and eventually led to the first ISO 9001 standard being passed in 1987.

Since that time, the standard has been reviewed once every 5 to 8 years, just to ensure that it still meets the current international business environment.

Who is ISO 9001:2015 for?

Essentially, ISO 9001:2015 is for any organisation that wants to give its customers proof that they can work to a consistently high standard.

Having said this, you need to make sure you follow these guidelines to be eligible:

  • A single person can’t gain certification. It must be a company that seeks qualification.
  • The size of the organisation doesn’t matter.
  • The industry doesn’t matter.
  • It is not a standard that relates to products. It doesn’t prove product quality. Instead, it’s used to control your company’s processes. 

As long as you fit these requirements, ISO 9001 is for you!

The Benefits of ISO 9001:2015

The standard has proved to be beneficial not only for your company but for your customers too. The advantages to gaining certification are seemingly limitless so it’s wise to familiarise yourself with at least a few of them.

The Benefits of ISO 9001:2015 for your Company

We’ll start with the benefits for your company.

1. Efficiency and Revenue Increase

The standard allows you to focus on the quality of your processes and procedures to increase the end result. Your revenue will boost due to this new-found efficiency.

2. Better Record Keeping

ISO 9001 ensures all your processes are recorded from the beginning to the end. This will help you deal with complaints easily and streamline your procedures.

3. Keep Improving

Since trend analysis is a huge part of ISO 9001, you will be better able to continuously improve your company. In turn, this will give you even greater profits.

4. Boost Employee Morale

The standard allows you to focus on the quality of your processes and procedures to increase the end result. Your revenue will boost due to this new-found efficiency.

The Benefits of ISO 9001:2015 for your Customers

1. Fewer Reasons for Returns

With ISO 9001, you will be able to spot and resolve problems quickly, meaning the customer won’t ever have to know. Thus, stopping them from returning products or requesting refunds.

2. Improved Customer Relationships

The standard sets out ways for your company to increase the quality of the relationships you hold between customers or shareholders. This improves the chances of having returning customers.

Final Thoughts

It’s safe to say that ISO 9001 is an in-depth standard that can take a while to wrap your head around. You’ll have gained a great deal of understanding here but be sure to delve deeper to find out exactly how your organisation can qualify.

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