A Red Carpet Roll Call for Quality Management

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What's Eating Gilbert Grape? The Aviator; Blood Diamond; The Wolf of Wall Street... What do all these movies have in common? They all star Academy Award winner Leonardo Dicaprio. Now, you could be forgiven for thinking we have some sort of bias towards the fair-faced, eternally-youthful actor. After all, this is not the first time that we've written about him. But what does Leonardo Dicaprio have to do with ISO 9001:2015? Well, Leo worked extremely hard - releasing big screen hit after big screen hit until it seemed almost inconceivable that he wouldn't win an Oscar for Best Actor for his (latest) performance. And yet he didn't. Years passed, nominations grew, and the list of all his other accolades became ever larger, but still the elusive Oscar escaped him. He became an internet 'meme' sensation- mocked by some, sympathised with by others for always getting so close but never clinching the victory. While he may have an outstanding portrayal of a character one movie, someone else just edges him out with theirs. But for his indomitable performance in The Revenant, he was finally rewarded with a gold statuette. And with this Academy Award, he is finally recognised as one of the elite players in his industry. So where's the connection? Well. Leonardo couldn't control when he got his Academy Award, but you can decide when you want yours. Your company's worth is measured by its performance, its procedures and its policies only. The fact that someone else's systems might be 'better' than yours is irrelevant because every company is different, and every certification audit is structured to meet your specific business needs. And whilst the ISO 9001:2015 may not have the glitz and glamour of the Oscars, being able to unequivocally demonstrate that your systems are independently approved as meeting international best practice is a league of its own. Acquiring certification in ISO 9001 solidifies your company as a leading figure in quality management, which can have enormous benefits when applying for business tenders. So how do you go about getting certified?

Step 1

Before even looking at the Standard, clarify the activities and steps needed to produce and deliver products and services. Quality Management is just about ensuring you deliver the products and services your customers expect. So your first task is to identify what the business does to do this. It is usually easier to write down these activities. Include the "must do" steps. Be clear on who is responsible for what. Include the other factors which will impact the quality of the final product/service, such as the raw materials, the equipment and tools, and the competencies of the personnel. Once you have finished you should have a description of your processes which can be read and followed by those who are qualified to do that job.

Step 2

Now look at what else is needed to make the products and services work. In order to keep the production working, you probably need to maintain the equipment, train up staff, measure the production process and the production outputs or services against specified targets to make sure things are working well. Write down what is needed here as well.

Step 3

Cross reference your business processes against the requirements of the ISO 9001:2015 standard. You are almost there. Now, have a look at the Standard to see how you are going. Are there other controls that would be useful? How about audits and ongoing monitoring? . If these aren't already in your processes then add them in. How about applying document controls to the processes you have written and the records that are generated?

Step 4

Check this against what is being done in your business. Check that what you have really describes what is being done. Are all the activities and the "must do" steps being done; are the raw materials and other inputs meeting criteria; are the final outputs meeting expectations? Check everything that is important. If you need to update the written procedures, do this; if you need to change practices, then do that.

Step 5

Give us a call. There will be a lot more detail you will need to address than can be reflected in this article, but the basic approach is really this simple. Once you feel confident that you have implemented the Standard into your business, you're ready to be internationally recognised for your efforts. So when you are ready, contact us to find out how to prove that your company is an elite player in the industry. Getting certified is a commitment, no doubt about it, but so is most everything in life. As Leo shows us: you need to work consistently and diligently towards improving yourself. But if you are working hard, give yourself something to show for it. Earn that academy award.

Alicja Gibert