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As a compliance consultant, I obviously believe that I provide truly unique and special value to my clients and prospects deciding to pursue ISO 9001 certification. But one major advantage that I have, even over a very experienced and knowledgeable Quality Manager that's trying to go it alone from within his/her own company; is the commitment that top management has made to do what their consultant tells them. After all, "they're paying the big bucks", so usually the President or CEO has told everyone, "you WILL attend the training, you WILL meet your project deadlines, and we WILL get certified!" A compliant quality management system (QMS) is not rocket science, however; it is definitely a series of best practices and disciplines that often involves a [corporate] culture change. People that tend to resist change, either by their nature or because of the sheer habit of "we've always done it this way!" require the extra incentive or motivation that a top-down commitment fosters. So, if you're a company leader, don't "mail it in". You may have delegated the Quality Manager to be the Management Representative to develop your QMS, but your overt commitment and high expectations are imperative to your company's successful certification. A Personal Anecdote: After achieving ISO 9001 certification from within a company as Director of Quality and using the help of a consultant, I then left that company and joined the same consultant group and successfully prepared numerous clients to become certified, mostly in the Detroit area. Although the work was very rewarding, the excessive travel forced my decision to accept a full time position as the head of quality in a unionized manufacturing environment. The President himself did not support the effort to become truly compliant, yet he did want the ISO 9001 certificate. The short of it is that we never did get certified in the 18 months I was there. After deciding to leave that organization, I have since been involved again (very successfully) in preparing companies for ISO 9001 and AS 9100 certification, usually in under six months. Claude Cormane - "ISOMan"
Did you, or are you getting ISO 9001 certified because of the proverbial "gun-to-the-head" by your customers..? …Or, did you decide that certification would actually provide benefits in not only the area of quality, but also operational performance and business objectives? There is no question that it costs money for companies to prepare for and maintain ISO 9001 certification. It’s also arguable that many companies would not have opted to do so if they weren't forced to by specific customers or from competitive industry pressures. I’ve worked with a few clients that simply wanted the ISO certificate and the shortest route to obtain it. They would have just bought the certificate if they could have! I have also been fortunate to work with clients that opted to become certified as a way to implement an enterprise-wide, concerted effort to benchmark practices and make improvements where needed as a business improvement objective, where certification was simply icing on the cake. Case in point, my experience with All-New Stamping, Inc. of El Monte, California. All-New completed the AS 9100 certification to support it's growing aerospace business. Nick Kopinga, the company President, felt that even with close to forty years in business, the process of becoming certified would force them to properly document the things they were already doing well. Additionally, though, he knew it would also highlight new areas of opportunity to update and improve both their business systems and their management practices. And that’s exactly what they experienced. In particular, the ISO mandate for regular management review of the quality system, and the requirement to achieve continuous measurable improvement was widened in scope to include additional business objectives. Can there ever be any reason to separate quality from any other business objectives anyway? The objectives they monitored only intuitively before, such as on-time delivery, plant efficiencies, supplier quality, product conformance, etc. now have objective trend charts that are used as their dashboard to drive the organization’s priorities for action and improvement. Most importantly, it conveys the metrics in a very visual way to the entire organization, which has given everyone a continuous improvement mindset. What started out to achieve an objective (ISO Certification) has continued to provide true return on investment at All-New Stamping. Check out this case study about All-New Stamping - and call Nick Kopinga if you'd like to hear it straight from the top.