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Miriam Boudreaux

Standards

Why Are Companies Still Not Registered to ISO 9001?

Even 22 years after its inception

Published: Monday, August 24, 2009 - 15:41

Even after many years of hearing the words ISO 9000 and seeing many organizations achieve registration to ISO 9001, there are still companies who are skeptical when it comes to going for ISO 9001 registration. For some, a misconception about the objectives of the ISO 9001 standard or a lack of knowledge may steer them off this path. For others, it may be financing this goal plus the long-term costs associated with maintaining compliance. Whatever your fears may be, allow me to explain the fundamental benefits and try to demonstrate the reason why ISO 9001 is the best management tool that was ever created.

ISO 9001 as a foundation

When we look at how houses are built all over the world, you will find various construction techniques. Whatever the architectural preference may be, there is one thing that most houses built to code have and that is a foundation. The better the foundation, the better the house will stand the test of time, regardless of how many families pass through its doors.

Here is where ISO 9001 can really help an organization. The first step of the journey toward being a great enterprise is to build a sound foundation. ISO 9001 is just that. ISO 9001 has a robust set of guidelines and if implemented correctly, an organization can establish policies and procedures that allow business processes to continue for many years—a sound foundation of the company.

ISO 9001 as the basis for company culture

Businesses employ people who learn the company culture and idiosyncrasies and apply it to their own working habits. When the company has no culture, then each person will work using his or her own habits, whether they're good or bad; therefore the business itself will be a mix of various habits and ideas, with none of them leading the way for new projects or work. Employees that work in companies that are not ISO 9001 registered typically use their prior experiences and try to apply it to their jobs. Some will yield great results and some won’t, but worse, each experience will be different and there won’t be common ground. Without ISO 9001, I have seen employees work in a very haphazard way, with some wanting to set rules but unable to find the system by which to do it. 

The ISO 9001 standard gives you the principles you need to have a solid foundation that can become part of your company culture. When applied right, your employees will embrace the ISO 9001 approach and make it part of their business culture. When the owner or top management propagates this culture, it is very likely that every employee will be directly or indirectly indoctrinated. Even when some of these rules are not written or spelled out, the culture will be transferred from employee to employee. They will no longer feel as if they are in going in different directions, but rather that they are working toward the same goals, becoming empowered and more secure in making the right decisions for their business.

A new pride to market

When you become ISO 9001 registered, employees are excited about the new system in place. Not only are they proud of their quality management system, but they feel good that “opportunity for continual improvement” is heard more often than “we made a mistake.” But nobody is more excited than the sales and marketing people, eager to place that "ISO 9001 Registered” logo on every piece of company literature.

Although it may seem that sales and marketing are often the least interested group in getting the company ISO 9001 registered, their behavior changes when it's time to market their achievement. The registration process, which seemed like a lot of work, is now a new tool to gain additional customers, and a new reason of pride to share with existing ones.

Suddenly ISO 9001 takes center stage, and the company can say, “We have a quality management system based on the ISO 9001 standard and we are proud of it.”

World-class quality practices for a small fee

ISO 9001 takes proven ideas, techniques, and principles from world-class quality companies and gives those as an integrated set of “standards” so that you can accomplish a certain level of quality in your organization. Imagine if you had to do your own research and figure out a common denominator or technique, a standard used by other companies to be successful. Of course, overall success will depend on the kind of business you run and the product or services you may sell, but the common denominator that highly competitive companies use is usually similar.

Large corporations often employ scholars, researchers, and experts to define new processes, solve problems, or create new technology for their business. The average business could not afford that and even going on a benchmarking spree seems more suitable to companies with big pockets than the average midsize business. ISO 9001 brings you baseline practices that are considered typical and that are commonly seen in world-class quality companies. You need not be an expert or research what other companies are doing to be successful. All you have to do is look at the ISO 9001 standard and you will find the minimum common denominator.

Although the cost of the standard itself is minimal, the initial cost of registration and recurrent costs of maintaining compliance to the standard can seem large, however when you look at the immediate and long term benefits of becoming registered, it is easy to see that the benefits outweigh those costs.

Summary

If you have been thinking about implementing ISO 9001 and after 22 years you are still unsure about its value, ask yourself, does my company have a foundation? Are all the employees working toward the same goal? Are our employees proud of our company? Are our competitors ISO 9001-registered? Do we have an edge on our competition? Chances are you could use the standard to take your company to the next level and into the ranks of world-class quality organizations.

Discuss

About The Author

Miriam Boudreaux’s picture

Miriam Boudreaux

Miriam Boudreaux is the CEO and founder of Mireaux Management Solutions, a technology and consulting firm headquartered in Houston, Texas. Mireaux’s products and services encompass international standards ISO and API consulting, training, auditing, document control and implementation of Web QMS software platform. Mireaux’s 6,500 square foot headquarters, located in the northwest area of Houston, houses their main offices as well as their state-of-the art training center. Mireaux itself is certified to ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 27001:2013. To get in touch with Miriam Boudreaux, please contact her at info@mireauxms.com.

Comments

ISO Management Systems are a farce

The only reason any organization would register to ISO 9001 is so they have access to international markets ... to sell their goods or services.  Other than that registering to any ISO management system is a waste of time and precious resources.  An organization looking to improve will achieve little improvement under the ISO schemes.  Trust me I have operated and audited those schemes for nearly 40 years now and they are all simply a scam for Registrars (auditors), Certification Bodies, and ISO to make money.  

Most countries already have regulatory bodies who require organizations to control key aspects of the business (Environmental, Safety, Financial etc).  What I have found through auditing these systems for decades is that most registered organizations, only work to meet the bare minimums of the ISO standard.   The 9000 series of standards don't even offer organizations the incentive or registration to the (supposed to be much better) ISO 9004.   That should tell one all they need to know about the ISO MSS's. 

I hate to be derogatory about the beloved ISO standards however in truth, I have found that they provide little to any organization and actually cause bureaucracy and an over extension of documentation which becomes so vast and ridiculous that no one within the organization actually reads the documents, much less follows them.  The bridge collapes in Florida (FIU bridge Mar of 2018).... or the disasster A380 aircraft for ISO registered company Airbus, these are just two of a long line of issues related to organizations who are registered to ISO MSS schemes. 

Secondly there is the use of non-business-related terms to define their various functions to which an organization is supposed to register to.  The concepts and terms are so non-standard as to require extensive discussion as to what they actually mean.  Further there is the misconception of what the terms mean and their intent which is driving vast confusion and variation between the registrars, the clients, and the so-called experts.   Attempt to get two people in a room full of ISO experts, to provide a similar answer to the terms “Context of the Organization” or “Risk Based Thinking” or worse “Interested Parties”.    One cannot get a solid or consistent answer on any of these concepts and terms conjured up by the ISO Technical Boards and Committees.

Business has and will operate the same way for hundreds of years.  One will not get the attention of any business executive unless one speaks financial language (P&L or Cash Flow or Balance sheet etc.).   What is amazing to me is that the so called Quality gurus at ISO are completely inept to these concepts, in any of their management system standards.  No business executive is going to respond to “Context of the organization” of that concept is not derived from the business financials… one might as well be speaking in Greek to and audience who only understands English.

Until ISO understands the concept of business, that its bound up in the financial performance of the organization, and the satisfaction of its Customers, they will continue to loose market share and eventually wind up in the dust bin of time (as they so deserve).   ISO would be better off to hire housewives who are the experts at customer expectation and relations and accountants who are the experts of financial performance and put them in a room to construct a valid business management system.  These quality experts that ISO uses today, obviously know nothing of either concept.

Questioning value of registration

My company has been registered to ISO 9001, and previously ISO 9002, for approximately 10 years. Over that period I continuously have customers coming in to perform "their" audits. Many of these audits are based on ISO 9001 and the checklists I'm given in advance paraphrase ISO 9001 requirements. Why should I spend the time and money to be registered when I continually have customer audits covering the same requirements?

While I do belive the ISO 9001 is an effective way to implement a quality system, my registration provides me with less and less value.