THE BENEFITS OF ISO 9001: WHAT IS PROCESS-BASED THINKING?

If your goal is building an organisation with prospects for long-term success, then you can look at what makes it sustainable. One approach is to focus on quality across the organisation. Sometimes, business leaders find it helpful to go through a process of certification, especially to demonstrate to customers that their business practices are worthy of ongoing loyalty. Businesses in nearly every industry may choose to become certified by the leading organisations in their field and also according to evaluations of their organisation in general. One option is becoming certified under ISO 9001. In this post, we examine the process-based thinking that leads to this certification.

 A Focus on Quality Management

It’s worth pursuing ISO 9001 certification if your organisation already maintains a focus on quality. You can also use this methodology to improve operations prior to seeking certification. ISO 9001 means that every business unit and identifiable activity within a company is held to high standards. This doesn’t just occur in preparation for certification. It’s built into every operational area and signifies the status quo. Also, business processes and tasks that result in mediocre or poor quality are not acceptable. Management is responsible for correcting instances of less-than-standard quality, and the root causes of these instances must be researched and eliminated.

Everyone Gets Involved

ISO 9001 also means that all employees maintain a focus on continuous improvement; this comes from the deep-seated belief that customers will keep buying because they recognize quality in products and services. Employees want to work for an organisation with a reputation for high quality because they recognize the extreme value that customers get. Employees contribute to ever-higher levels of quality and help customers benefit from their entire experience with the company. 

 The Process

Getting certified under ISO 9001 requires reviewing all of an organisation’s internal operations and assessing them according to 7 quality management principles, or QMPs. These principles govern every task that employees perform and other indicators that are harder to measure, such as interactions between employees and customers. The QMPs are: customer focus, leadership, engagement of people, process approach, improvement, evidence-based decision-making, and relationship management. 

The Example of QMP #2: Leadership

Let’s take a closer look at one of the QMPs to help readers understand what ISO 9001 looks like in practice. According to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), an organization will incorporate all of its managers into the process. “Leaders at all levels establish unity of purpose and direction and create conditions in which people are engaged in achieving the organisation’s quality objectives.” This means defining what quality looks like in terms of a particular process, which is a combination of business activities. The rationale for focusing on leadership is as follows: “Creation of unity of purpose and direction and engagement of people enable an organization to align its strategies, policies, processes and resources to achieve its objectives.” This mindset does not leave room for people who do not support quality objectives and those who won’t follow policies and procedures. People who aren’t rule followers do not help an organisation reinforce its quality standards. 

 Is It for You?

The ISO 9001 certification could signify that your organisation has moved along a continuum, but you aren’t ready for it if your organisation is immature. The beginning of the continuum resembles total chaos, and the end of the continuum resembles a “self-learning” organisation. Without a commitment to effective leadership and the other six principles of ISO 9001, your organisation cannot demonstrate its sustainability to outsiders. The value of the products or services that you deliver to consumers will remain in question. You can say that the quality management principles have been implemented, but anyone looking closer can quickly find evidence that your organisation falls short.

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