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The ISO 9001 Standard - Can a Million Companies Be Wrong?

Posted by Brian Gilmore on Mar 25, 2014 1:40:00 PM

ISO 9001 has become the most recognized quality management credential in the world for manufacturing companies. More than one million companies in 170 countries have been certified to the standard, which is increasingly viewed as a requirement among employers looking sell products or technologies to global advanced manufacturing enterprises.

ManufacturingThe broadening acceptance of ISO among customers is finally persuading manufacturers that may have been reluctant to pursue certification because of cost or misperceptions about the registration process to finally take the plunge.

ISO 9001 provides guidance and tools for companies and organizations that wish to ensure that their products and services consistently meet customer’s requirements. It’s an operational plan.

The standard is based on quality management principles such as strong customer focus, the motivation and implication of top management, the process approach and continual improvement. The idea is to ensure that customers get consistent, good quality products and services, which in turn brings many business benefits.

An organization must perform internal audits to check how its quality management system is working. A company may decide to invite an independent certification body to verify that it is in conformity to the standard, but there is no requirement for this. Alternatively, it might invite its clients to audit the quality system for themselves.

ISO 90001 requires that a company has documented quality program that it follows. The benefits?

  • Provides a measurable advantage over competition
  • Increases sales revenue
  • Improves the bottom line
  • Improves business and process performance while managing business risk
  • Attracts investment, enhances brand reputation and removes barriers to trade
  • Streamlines operations and reduces waste
  • Encourages internal communication and raises morale
  • Increases customer satisfaction

A number of studies have identified financial benefits for organizations certified to ISO 9001. A 2011 survey from the British Assessment Bureau showed that 44 percent of their certified clients had won new business. A separate study indicated that certified organizations achieved superior return on assets compared to otherwise similar organizations without certification.

“Sales Department is making appointments with companies who would not even look at us before we had our certification. We are also looking to expand our business outside New England now. This was a great and worthwhile adventure,” said AIM member Joseph Peters, President of Universal Plastics in Holyoke, who participated in the AIM/Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership ISO 9001 collaborative.

The collaborative provides a relatively inexpensive, workshop-based program that provides systems, documentation, training and on-site consultation for companies wanting or needing to comply with ISO 9001. The program consists with seven off-site, one day workshops over a period of seven months with a minimum of four and a maximum of eight companies working together with a consultant to establish and/or upgrade their quality management system.

A “gap” assessment of each participating company is provided to identify the areas each company needs to improve.  A minimum of five on-site consulting days in addition to the training workshops are provided to each participant.

Pricing for the AIM/MassMEP ISO Collabrative is based on company size – tuition ranges from $13,500 for a company employing fewer than 50 people to $22,000 for one that employs between 250-400 people. In most cases, the Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund covers up to 50 percent of the cost to participate.

Contact your regional AIM Member Relations staff member or Brian Gilmore at 617-262-1180 for more information.

Topics: Revenue, Manufacturing, Efficiency

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