This article is brought to you by our member FTS Safety Solutions who are certificated to ISO 9001, which is the international standard for a Quality Management System (QMS).
For a company to be certified to ISO9001 standard, they must follow the requirements set out in the standard.
This standard is used by organisations to demonstrate their ability to consistently provide in their capacity, services and products that meet customer and regulatory requirements, more importantly to demonstrate a continuous improvement to procedures.
The standard supports an organisation’s aims and objectives, a QMS documents the processes, procedures and responsibilities for achieving quality policies and objectives.
Based on eight quality management principles, the ISO 9001 standard defines the way an organisation operates to meet the requirements of its customers:
- Customer focus involves determining and meeting the customer requirements
- Leadership involves people at all levels being fully involved in an environment where the company objectives are met.
- Involvement of people involves people at all levels enabling their abilities to be used for the benefit of the company.
- Process approach where an organisation manages their business processes not people or products.
- Organisational context requires the company to consider both the internal and external issues that can impact on its objectives and the quality management system.
- Continual improvement drives the company to continually adopt ways to reduce costs, improve performance and customer satisfaction.
- Fact-based decision-making ensures that good management practices are used to allow for objective decision making that will lead to positive actions.
- Risk-based thinking as an efficient process to risk that is incorporated into the Quality Management System, rather than treating risk as a single component. This ensures that you are proactive rather than reactive and therefore promotes continual improvement.
Establishing a Quality Management System
FTS decided to produce a Quality Management System (QMS), that reflects the way they work and is compliant with the requirements of ISO9001 certification. FTS did not have any documented systems in place that highlighted the formal working practices and procedures, so making the transition to a formal ISO9001 system was a challenge. The process of obtaining the certification would have taken them 18 months had they not worked with external specialists who were able to complete the whole process in less than 8 weeks.
Why is the Certification important when you provide a service?
FTS do not manufacture products, the closest they have to products are their reports and certificates that they send to clients (much like other PAT testing companies) e.g. Portable Appliance Testing, Fixed Wire Testing and Fire Extinguisher servicing. Some people might not think that the ISO9001 certification is as critical to a PAT testing company as it is to a company making physical products. However in FTS’s opinion; it is.
What are the benefits of the ISO 9001 Certification?
The ISO 9001 certification helps companies develop and improve performance, as well as demonstrate high levels of service quality when bidding for contracts. Certification follows successful completion of an audit against the ISO 9001 standard and enables companies to:
- Operate more efficiently
- Meet legal and regulatory requirements
- Extend into new market areas
- Identify and address risks
How we use the ISO9001 Certification
FTS use the certification to control the processes they use to produce their reports. FTS told us that the biggest misconception of Quality Management Systems is not specifically about putting a “badge” on a product, it is about the system that produces the product, how is it managed, controlled, reviewed and improved.
The current standard ISO9001: 2015, now incorporates an element of risk assessment to drive the continual improvement of the system. Therefore, as a company FTS must be able to identify risks to the business and put control measures in place.
Is ISO 9001 certification worth the effort?
Yes – without a doubt, especially as FTS clients recognise that every report and certificate is of a high standard.
Companies must be regularly audited by an independent certifying company to maintain ISO certification. These external audits ensure that they improve and leads them to keep their systems up-to-date that might otherwise gradually become a little stale. The challenge is to be able to demonstrate that this works for the company.
You can learn more about FTS’s ISO and their business in general by visiting their website ftssafetysolutions.co.uk