Simple Steps to Implement ISO 9001 in Small Business

ISO 9001 is a widely accepted quality management system standard by many countries. This standard is recognized for its simplicity in defining the quality requirements, yet it is applicable to all types of business in the world, irrespective of size and location. This standard considered as a basic and minimum requirement to be fulfilled by an organization to withstand in the competitive market. Though, the ISO 9001 certification helps the firm to attract and retain the customers amidst competition, what really matters is adopting the standard requirements in the business to get maximum benefit out of it. Many Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in India are gradually upgrading themselves to obtain the ISO 9001

certification to show up their commitment to quality. If you are one among them and want to implement ISO 9001 in your business then this article is for you. Here, you will find 5 simple ways, to implement ISO 9001 without worrying too much about the clause requirements mentioned in the standard.

“ISO Implementation is Easy; But the Difficulties Lies in Sustenance”

Establish the Business Purpose

Establishing a business’ purpose, consists of identifying the stakeholders requirements and accordingly developing quality policy to achieve the stakeholder’s requirements. Stakeholders in a business, typically includes customers, employees, suppliers, statutory and regulatory bodies, society etc. once we identify the stakeholders list, we need to understand their needs and expectations. For detailed information on how to identify the stakeholders needs and expectations, please click here. The requirements of stakeholders would not be constant considering the changes in the context of the organization, hence an entrepreneur need to be cautious of those changes and identify the stakeholder’s requirements periodically.

Once the requirements are identified, the organization to develop a quality policy. This statement to include, how the organization would like to achieve its outcome by meeting their stakeholder requirements. This statement would be an outline and provides guideline to an organization, for taking decisions at difficult situation. The quality policy statement, in the history of ISO 9001 has been considered as theoretical exercise, and rather to use it as a means to improve organization quality. Unless a strong quality policy is developed and committed to achieve by the organization, it is difficult to proceed with further steps.

Setting Business Goals

Business goals are nothing but quality objectives in terms of the standard. Business goals are set keeping in mind the context of the organization and its policy statement. Usually, the time limit of a goal statement is not more than a year. The business goals to be specific, measurable, achievable, reliable and targeted.  The goals are to indicate the following;

  1. What you want to achieve?
  2. When will you achieve?
  3. Who is responsible?
  4. Who will monitor?
  5. How will you monitor?

On completion of the business goal statement, the main task to perform is communicating the goals within and outside the organization where relevant. While communicating the same the top management needs to consider the following;

  1. Goal statement to be modified or substituted with appropriate words that the relevant person can understand it.
    1. For example, if you have a goal to reduce operational expense by 10% from existing amount, the same cannot be communicated to workers because of the lack of clarity in their participation to achieve the goal. Instead, reduction of consumable usage, reduction of rejection etc. can be introduced to finally meet the goal.
  2. Goal to be divided into milestones
    • . A goal is not achieved in a single day. It requires dedicated effort consistently to meet the deliverables. Hence, it is important to identify the critical milestones required to be met for achieving the goal. Responsibilities can be assigned for each milestone for better clarity.

For detailed information on how to identify the goals, please click here.

Establish Processes & Controls

We set goals to achieve it. It is considerably easy to set the objectives than to achieve it. The difficult of achieving the objectives observed mainly due to not following the systematic approach in the execution in small business. It is mandatory to identify each and every steps involved in the processes and grouping together to describe as a process. Processes combined together called as system. Every process to be described in terms of the following;

  1. Inputs required for the process
  2. Defining parameters to check the input
    1. Raw material Inspections and its criteria
    2. Input from other users, validated prior to next process
  3. Steps of activities involved in the process
  4. Resources required
    • . Infrastructure
  5. Machines and Equipment
  6. Human Resource
  7. Software etc.
  1. Controls required for the activities
    • . Stage-wise Inspections
  1. Validation
  2. Quality Control etc.
  1. Expected output
  2. Monitoring parameters
  3. Feedback from the process output

Develop Monitoring Mechanisms

A football match without scoreboard is mere waste of time. Similarly an organization without a scoreboard of its execution is nothing but a path to its failure. Hence, it is mandatory to identify the key parameters in the processes mentioned above to monitor the progress. When you ride a car, you never worry about the engine temperature and its cooling efficiency and other parameters. Our concern is fuel level, maintenance or service due and speed. These details are conveniently displayed at the dashboard of the car. The rider only looks at the data that is required for him to manage the driving. Likewise, in order to run a business smoothly, one must identify the monitoring parameters and collect data for such parameters, analyse to understand the current status and opportunity for improvement.

The first step to identify the monitoring parameters is identifying the critical processes in an organization. Once the key processes are identified, then determine the parameters that will project the actual status of the process.

For more information on monitoring methods, please read Result-Oriented Vs Process-Oriented thinking

Improve Systematically

The output of a monitoring process tells you the result of the achievement. Any difference with the target is where analysis is required. If the target is not met, root cause for the failures to be identified. A simple 5 Whys analysis would help a small business to find out the root causes. For more information on 5 Whys analysis please click here. Action needs to be taken for removing or eliminating the causes from the system. This process to be continued until satisfied results are achieved.

Though these steps cover all the basic requirements of this international standard, a detailed study or walk through on each class requirement, before applying for certification is highly recommended.

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