What is ISO9001 and why would I want it?

  • March 2015
  • Posted By Practical Editing

Perhaps your organisation has previously tried to apply for a government contract only to find it was missing a key component – ISO9001 accreditation. Or maybe you’ve just heard of ‘accreditation’ in the context of business management and are not sure what that might mean.

‘Accreditation’ could refer to a few different things, but when used in a business setting without other information, it usually means ISO9001 accreditation.

What is ISO9001?

ISO9001:2008 is a document that states the framework for an effective business quality management system. It is adaptable to a whole range of organisations and is easily integrated with other standards such as the ISO14000 series, which relates to environmental management. The ‘2008’ refers to the year this version was finalised. Some organisations are still using the 2000 version. There is a 2012 amendment, and it is expected that a complete new version will be finalised sometime in 2015. It will be called ISO9001:2015.

Why seek ISO9001 accreditation?

Organisations seek ISO9001 accreditation to demonstrate that they have an appropriate and functioning business quality management system.

Some businesses and government departments require organisations and businesses with which they work to be accredited. This saves them from needing to do as much checking and auditing of the organisation as it has already been done.

How is ISO9001 accreditation achieved?

Before seeking accreditation, an organisation needs to be effectively using an appropriate quality management system that meets ISO9001 requirements and have the records to prove it. This generally means having structure, policies, procedures, and thorough record keeping. There are additional requirements for some types of organisations.

A registered auditor visits the business and conducts an audit of their system. It is in the best interests of the auditor to be thorough, and provide constructive criticism and positive feedback rather than pass an organisation that is not operating to the standards required. The auditor may need to revisit the organisation and reassess some parts of the system.

What if I don’t want accreditation just yet?

Developing and using an effective quality management system is a valuable exercise even without seeking accreditation. It can help you identify gaps, ensure everyone is doing a task correctly, monitor performance, and prevent small problems becoming disasters.

What now?

Does it sound like ISO9001 might be useful? It can help your business be more competitive, and just working towards accreditation can streamline your business processes.

If you need advice or assistance with the application or accreditation process, Practical Editing can help. We are familiar with the process and can streamline the steps and support you throughout.