For a manufacturing organization, becoming ISO 9000 compliant has countless internal and external benefits. Internally, companies increase speed of production, reduce cost of quality and improve production yield. Externally, customers have greater peace of mind knowing that the products they purchased have met strict standards of quality. Combined, manufacturing companies reap the financial rewards of more revenue and elevated profit margins. Who wouldn’t want that?
There’s a figurative pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for manufacturers who follow these steps to becoming ISO 9000 compliant. Here’s how to get started.
Understand what it takes to be ISO 9000 compliant
The ISO 9000 series are based on seven quality management principles. Understand how it applies to your company and get familiar with case studies from companies that mirror your size, industry and scope so that you can best learn from experiences of other companies similar to your own who have undergone the compliance process.
Get buy in
Make sure that the management team is committed to implementing an ISO 9000 quality management system in the organization. This goes beyond rubber stamping; the leadership team must make required resources available for the development of the quality management system, as well as designate a management representative (MR) to participate in the implementation process.
With every new initiative, it’s smart to create objectives at the beginning of the process so you can gauge success and make adjustments as needed. Some typical goals that manufacturing organizations want to achieve through the quality management system include:
- Increase efficiency and profitability
- Decrease costs and scrap
- Improve internal communication and coordination
- Reduce manual steps and management overlap
- Increase speed of production
- Raise confidence in the production system
- Curtail liabilities and incident reports
- Produce products that create customers for life
Form an implementation team
In order to achieve your objectives, put together a team of A-players with representation from all areas of your manufacturing organization, such as R&D, Production, Quality, Customer Service, Marketing, Sales, etc. These people must be passionate about the value of quality improvement as a company goal, and understand that quality management systems are a means of reaching that goal. Members of the implementation team should also be trained on ISO 9000 quality management systems by a professional training organization. Lastly, the management representative, or MR, is the person who is the conduit between your company and the ISO 9000 registrar, as well as the champion for the organization’s quality management system.
Outline a plan and document it
First, compare your current quality management system with ISO 9000 standards. Then, identify non-conforming areas. Draft a holistic and detailed plan that describes processes to enhance the organization’s quality management system to become ISO 9000 compliant. Once the plan is developed and approved, create documentation of your quality management system, which should include:
- Documented statements of a quality policy and the quality objectives — established at all levels and functions
- A quality manual
- Documented procedures and records required by the standard ISO 9001:2000
- Documents needed by the organization to ensure the effective planning, operation and control of its processes
Sounds hard, but it’s worth it.
Promote and train
Once your organization’s quality policy is defined, make it known to employees, customers and suppliers. Communicate the aim of the ISO 9000 quality management system, its advantages, how it will be implemented and respective roles and responsibilities of all parties. Employee training programs should be created and targeted for each tier in the organizational chart. ISO 9000 training should cover the basic principles of the quality management system, new standards, changed processes, and the implications to the organizational culture and business goals.
Administer a next-generation quality management system
Not all quality management software systems are created equal. If one of your goals is to increase efficiency, then eliminate manual steps in your quality management process. If another of your goals is to reduce costs, then eliminate unnecessary costs caused by human error. Modern quality management systems, like TrackVia, replace these cumbersome and costly parts of the quality management process with automated steps. So, not only are manual data collection and manual data entry phased out, real-time reports are also made available more readily. Gone are days of waiting by the computer for the latest spreadsheet containing old data. Next-generation quality management systems improve communication and provide greater visibility to areas affecting optimal production yield.
In today’s ever-increasing, customer-driven environment, manufacturing companies who are ISO 9000 compliant are in a better position to maintain a competitive advantage and increase market share through continuous improvement. The outcome includes better quality products, higher profit margins, and improved customer value chain. That should make everyone happy.
Interested in learning about best practices in quality management for manufacturers? Take a listen to this podcast!