While nobody doubts the importance of quality assurance in Queensland, in growing and keeping our customers, there is often confusion over the different management systems available, and a certain reluctance to 'get on board', due to the perceived workload of doing so.
By far the most common and trusted route is via Quality Management System ISO 9001, a path many thousands of businesses are choosing worldwide.
But what does it involve? How long does it take? What does it cost? These and many more questions can be answered by professional management system consultants, such as Standard Consulting in Brisbane.
All About Quality Assurance
It must be said straight away that ISO certification is no overnight feat, nor is it something you do and then forget about. All ISO management systems and certifications are designed to be fluid and ongoing, constantly reviewed and revised to ensure they are delivering.
In the case of ISO 9001, it's all about quality assurance; ensuring the products or services produced are of the highest standard, and fit for purpose.
Quality assurance is not quality control. Whilst quality control is commendable, it shouldn't really be required. What I mean by that, is that the mistakes should not have occurred in the first place!
Saving Time And Money
Replacing or refunding shoddy products is all well and good, but it is costly, time-consuming, and will undoubtedly have an effect on your reputation.
Is it not a better option to produce excellent, fit-for-purpose products first time around?
Working towards this by using Quality Management System ISO 9001 is the solution. And how you do it is the key to success.
My first piece of advice would be DON'T buy an off-the-shelf ISO 9001 solution. Why? Because there is no off-the-shelf solution! Every organisation is different and to really be successful, the quality assurance management system must be tailor-made to fit.
Work with consultants. They are not just trying to sell you something quickly and move on, they are all about finding the right solution for your business. This starts with detailed discussions about your business, your goals, your current systems, your customer base, and more.
With this information your consultant can build a personalised quality assurance management plan, and lead through implementation and then certification. This same consultant should also be able to provide all necessary training and documentation. If they can't, go elsewhere.
There are certain steps needed to work through this whole process, and your consultant is likely to make the following suggestions.
First of all, any ISO management system or certification needs to involve your entire organisation. And with the recent review and update of ISO 9001, great importance is placed on the role of management. Without that support from the top, the system is likely to fail.
Goals And Requirements
What is it that you want to achieve? It is crucial to identify your goals and requirements from the get-go, so that your quality assurance management system can be built around them. Without a clear idea of where you're going, you're never going to get there. Much of this can be based around meeting your customers' needs.
Set out your guidelines. This is largely done through developing your quality assurance policy and manual. These are not only excellent management tools, but actually form part of your ISO certification process.
Adapt your current procedures to suit your quality assurance management system. As an International Standard, ISO 9001 comes with certain mandatory procedures, and your management system consultant will be able to explain these more fully.
Walking The Talk
Implementing the plan. Again, this is one you will do by working closely with your consultant. This is the 'walking the talk' part! This is about actioning your new procedures, and monitoring the results, to ensure you are actually achieving your goal of improving quality.
This part of the journey also needs to be fully documented in order to go through the certification process.
A large part of this revolves around the training provided to your team. You can't just expect your staff to change how they work overnight. Your management system consultant will help you roll out a training program that ensures everyone understands the process and is on the same page.
The time taken to reach the certification stage varies with every business. There's no point doing it until you know you are ready, and that all processes are not only in place, but are shown to be working.
Auditing For Success
This is where internal auditing comes in, assessing and reviewing the management system, getting it just right, before the external auditor makes a decision regarding accreditation. This is often the stage where business owners get nervous, but there really is no need.
Internal auditors work for the business, reporting back to management, in order to improve the organisation's day-to-day workings, and bottom line.
And while the external auditor is working for the accreditation body, this should still be seen as a positive, because it is still all about improving your business.