A company or organization getting certified means the certification body has verified that the company/organization in question is following the guidelines given in the standards (for example ISO 9001-2008) has established and maintains the quality management system and it is stable. In other words QMS has been working consistently for an extended period of time. This of course depends on the complexity of its processes and experience of its personnel.
This could mean the company understands the clauses in the standard (which are generic applicable to any and to all institutions,) and interprets them as appropriate for them. If the organization is number of years old as is normally the case, they may have many processes already established and giving them the results in terms of profits. Otherwise they may not exist for long periods. The difficulty in the interpretation of the ISO standard comes from the terms used internally and that used in the standard. The company needs to look at the companion standard ISO 9000 – 2005 for definitions of the terms used in the certifiable standard –ISO 9001:2008.
For want of time and experience they look for outside assistance, thus enters the consultant who proclaims he has the credentials and with glib tongue gets the assignment. ISO has a guide line paper for selecting a consultant, which seldom gets the company’s attention.
Here lies the tragedy, the consultant has established a quality management system which is stand alone and not properly integrated with company’s established processes so much so you will notice and often hear that two parallel thing are done one for getting certified and another for running the company as usual. The causality is the quality although the company is certified on paper.
This happens because the company management entertains a notion that establishing a QMS needs total restructuring and it may result in destabilization present processes which are working for them. This is not the case if they understand their core processes; its support process and their customers in the first place and after this understand PDCA (plan, Do, Check, Act) Cycle and ensuring its operation in all major activities will certainly result in a management system in line with guidelines given ISO standard fully integrating its current processes. This strengthens the organizations processes than destabilizing them. If done correctly the fear entertained by the management will prove unfounded.
Taking due care as above will result in management system reflecting the existing processes and filling any gaps that might have existed. The certifying body is equally responsible for emphasizing the requirements and practices for continual improvement. Fortunately many do and some don’t.
Certification also entails a customer to complain if the good and services are not as claimed. The customer can take up this with certifying and accreditation body. Well you may have to wait for a while for redress. This recourse is available to the customer who is not satisfied with the results after going through the company’s complaint handling process.
This apart the certificate is valid for only three years and subject to surveillance every year. The certifying body plays a major role here that is ensuring that the data collected by the company are analyzed and feedback in to the system to assist improving the quality of its processes and thereby the output.
University of Wriclaw in document titled “Success factors for quality management systems certification benefits concludes “ISO 9000 certification can deliver business benefits, but the organization should carefully design the ISO 9000 implementation strategy. In this respect it is important to realize the necessity to align quality programs with number of strategies to ensure that efforts reflect long term goals of an organization”.
Others in the field have held that implementing the requirements of quality management system requirements in its letter and spirit will result in
- Effective process documentation
- Factual approach to decision making
- Increased efficiency
- Consistency of its operations
- Improvement of process
- Improved supplier relationship
- Improved customer satisfaction
- Increased revenue
- international recognition
All that it requires is stead fast management commitment and provision of resources for quality improvement programs. If the management does this time and again they will discover a GOLD MINE in their own backyard. Customers however remote they are will eventually benefit.