ISO 9000: Step-by-step guide

Sep 22 2016

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Once with the rising competition in basically any industry that was around for more than 3 years, the need of creating or maintaining strategic advantages is a priority in any company. Thinking from the customer’s perspective, what are the reasons that make you choose a product over another one solving the same need? We can all agree the quality and the price are two of the most well known buying criteria. But what makes a price go up or down? I think the quality of the production and distribution process. A production workflow as efficient as possible is not only a guarantee of a qualitative product, but also a way to reduce costs which are strongly related to the retailing price.

What is ISO 9000?

This is where the International Organization of Standardization steps in. Founded more than 60 years ago, this entity with members from 163 national standards organisations is in charge of easing the worldwide trade by implementing common standards. Another important power is their ability to award a company an ISO certification which guarantees the end-user a product qualitative enough to pass the minimum international standards.

With more than 20.000 regulations published, the most famous one is the ISO 9000 family. The standards part of this group are approaching the quality management topic, ranging from the requirements to be certified to how to make an internal or external quality assurance audit.

How to get certified?

First of all you need to be sure you understand what this certification requires. Your company needs to get examined once before getting the certification and every year to check if you are still compliant by an accredited body from your country.

Step 1

This is the first time your company is in contact with the certified consultants or internal auditors. They need to check the quality management processes and create a plan of what needs to be changed or implemented to be able to get the ISO 9000 certification. Once you have created a list of procedures, your employees need to familiarise with it. This can be achieved by publicly posting it in visible places such as a knowledge base and by providing training sessions.

Step 2

Contact the accredited body in your country and request a pre-assessment which can be considered a trial run. Bear in mind, they are not allowed to consult, but some assistance will be provided in order to confirm that the quality standards implemented are efficient. At this stage there is no pass or fail, so feel free to adjust your standards to meet their recommendations until the final assessment.

Step 3

Compared to the pre-assessment stage, the documentation review is mandatory and it means that the first stage of the assessment process just started. The accredited body will focus on the quality manual and the management policies. The second stage is when they make a detailed control of the way the requirements are being met. Ranging from talking to your employees to observing the workflow in your company, the auditors will check everything so make sure you are all set before calling them. The amount of time needed for this is linked to the company size and at times it might require more days.

Step 4

If there are a few issues that prevent you from being certified, an action request will be written in the audit report and a time frame is provided to address those findings. On the bright side, if everything goes smooth, you will receive a certificate of registration once the review board is approving your case.

Step 5

At this stage you are fully certified and need to make sure you are compliant with the ongoing quality procedures. Once at 3 years, the accredited body will re-examine your entire quality management workflow, but remember that on an yearly basis some parts of the company will be examined too.

How XWiki can help?

Thinking of how the process of accreditation is being handled, imagine all those standards that need to be efficiently stored, easily accessible and simple to edit. By getting ISO 9000 certified, I think you are interested in being more efficient, right?

The best way to organise your documents in an efficient way is to use XWiki Knowledge Base for Procedures. You can get a feeling of what it looks and works like by creating a 10 days free cloud account.  Let me give you a tip, this will also help during your first stage accreditation process when the documentation is being checked. Believe me, showing that you efficiently store and provide easy access to the quality procedures goes a long way.

We wish you the best of luck and we want to congratulate your initiative, if you decide to become ISO 9000 certified!

George Nikolic
Marketing Specialist @ XWiki