Expected outcomes for accredited certification to ISO 9001 (from the perspective of the organization’s customers)
“For the defined certification scope, an organization with a certified quality management system consistently provides products and services that meet customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements, and aims to enhance customer satisfaction.”
Notes: a. Customer requirements for the products and services may either be stated (for example in a contract or an agreed specification) or generally implied (for example in the organization’s promotional material, or by common practice for that economic/industry sector). b. Requirements for the products and services may include requirements for delivery and post-delivery activities.
What Accredited Certification to ISO 9001 Means
To achieve conforming products and services, the accredited certification process is expected to provide confidence that the organization has a quality management system that conforms to the applicable requirements of ISO 9001. In particular, it is to be expected that the organization:
A. has established a quality management system that is suitable for its products, services and processes, and appropriate for its certification scope,
B. analyzes and understands customer needs and expectations, as well as the relevant statutory and regulatory requirements related to its products and services,
C. ensures that product characteristics have been specified in order to meet customer and statutory/regulatory requirements,
D. has determined and is managing the processes needed to achieve the expected outcomes (conforming products and services, as well as enhanced customer satisfaction),
E. has ensured the availability of resources necessary to support the operation and monitoring of these processes,
F. monitors and controls the defined product and service characteristics,
G. aims to prevent nonconformities, and has systematic improvement processes in place to:
- Correct any nonconformities that do occur (including product or service nonconformities that are detected after delivery),
- Analyze the cause of nonconformities and take corrective action to avoid their recurrence,
- Address customer complaints,
H. has implemented an effective internal audit and management review process,
I. is monitoring, measuring and continually improving the effectiveness of its quality management system,
What Accredited Certification to ISO 9001 Does Not Mean
1) It is important to recognize that ISO 9001 defines the requirements for an organization’s quality management system, not for its products and services. Accredited certification to ISO 9001 should provide confidence in the organization’s ability to “consistently provide product that meets customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements”. It does not necessarily ensure that the organization will always achieve 100% product conformity, though this should of course be a permanent goal.
2) ISO 9001 accredited certification does not imply that the organization is providing a superior Product or service, or that the product or service itself is certified as meeting the requirements of an ISO (or any other) standard or specification.
Much Ado About Nothing
The above is an ideal, a process, trusted to bring about conditions whereby, through transparency, goods and services are produced to meet customer requirements.But, in the real world, it’s not always the case.
Business is driven by economics, there are priorities, constraints and in some cases,conditions that are prohibitive to accredited certification.
Furthermore, there are those companies, whether intentionally or not, unable to meet the necessary quality requirements, yet, through customer pressure or the belief registration will enhance their bottom line they seek certification.
Guess what? Takata and Deepwater Horizon both held accredited certification (from legitimate registration bodies) and you see what happened to them.
Enter those (who give us all a bad name) promising low-cost certification, even to Standards that don’t exist and even more ludicrous, without any verification of your quality system. Yep – You heard me correctly, NO AUDITS. Registration certificate above is an example. Sadly, a former client of mine! Talk about turning to the Dark Side. Take it one step further, the certification body, above, agreed to certify a bogus company that claimed to produce a negative-buoyancy life jacket (which is intended to sink killing its wearer!)
My former client’s ‘certification’ took place long after we parted ways and unbeknownst to me*. In their defense, there were those ‘prohibitive conditions;’ lack of cash flow and absence of qualified staff to maintain a quality system properly combined with a large customer (in a regulated industry) who mandated a certified system or they would go elsewhere – they took advantage of this low-cost registration scheme, with or without knowledge of its legitimacy.
*Note – I discovered the certificate on-line, years later, while doing unrelated research. At present, I am unaware if this company is still in operation or not and regret being unable to take them to registration with a legitimate CB but suspect this to be a choice of desperation, one of which, most likely, did not ended so well.
Too often, I’ve seen small companies achieve certification only to find out it was a last ditch effort for survival – without the appropriate resources, it never ends well.
Most certified organizations (over 1,000,000 worldwide) are honest and dedicated to product quality and customer satisfaction but there are some dishonest out there. So I guess the message is still ‘buyer beware.’ Do your diligence and check to verify that your prospective or customer’s registrar (CB) is accredited here: http://anab.org/accredited-organizations/
We’ll call this post a public service announcement.
Until next time…