ISO 9001 explained – what It Is, what’s involved & what’s to gain

The ISO 9001 certification is highly sought-after and becoming increasingly popular amongst businesses.

To help you understand whether ISO 9001 is something your business would benefit from, we asked Sean Huggett of Evalian to explain what it’s about, and what’s needed to achieve it.

While not a mandatory certificate there are a number of reasons why many businesses are choosing to gain ISO 9001 certification.

For the most part, this is because it proves that your company is always looking to improve the quality of your goods or services, which is great news for existing and prospective customers. But we’ll look at these benefits in more detail later on.

In order to achieve certification, there are a number of requirements you must meet first – that’s why we’ve put together this guide.

If you’re thinking of becoming ISO 9001 certified or just want to know more about it, then we’ve got you covered Read on, as we explain what ISO 9001 actually is, how businesses can benefit from gaining this certification and look at the process and requirements for achieving ISO 9001.

What exactly is ISO 9001?

While the name might suggest something a little more complex, put simply ISO 9001 is an internationally recognised standard for quality management systems, also referred to as QMS.

In order to achieve this certification your business must meet the high standards set out in the ISO 9001 guidelines. These high standards are used by businesses to show their ability to provide the best products and services to their customers, as well as working to consistently update their offering.

What are the benefits of becoming ISO 9001 certified?

There are a number of benefits for becoming ISO 9001 certified, some we’ve briefly touched on above. Other reasons why you should consider achieving certification for your business, include;

Customer satisfaction

Being able to understand what it is that customers want and continually work to offer them the best products and services means better overall customer satisfaction. This in turn means they’re more likely to use your business again in the future.

Building your brand and reputation

You can boost your reputation by ensuring high-quality standards and ranking your business amongst others from around the world who also adhere to these standards.

For good company culture

Strong company culture is about continuous growth and improvement of the business and staff being a part of this journey. As such, becoming ISO 9001 certified can help to boost morale.

Increased opportunities for partnerships

Because the ISO 9001 certification is so widely recognised it can help to open doors for your business. Some companies will specifically require that you are ISO 9001 accredited in order to work with you.

What are the requirements for ISO 9001 certification?

As with any standardisation or regulatory body that offers certification, there are requirements you must first meet in order to comply. To ensure you’ve got all the documentation and information you need, we’ve broken this down into five sections below.

However, it’s important to remember that all businesses are different and on occasion there will be some exceptions or different documents needed, so it’s always best to check with the board before submitting your paperwork – this will ensure you’ve got everything you need.

Section One: General requirements for a Quality Management System

In this first section we’ll cover some of the general requirements for a Quality Management System, listing some of the most important documents that cover product/service records and reviews. The key information includes:

  • Characteristics of the product or service to be produced or provided
  • Product/service requirement records
  • Records of product/service provisions
  • Documentation of monitoring and measuring equilibrium calibration
  • Records of conformity of product or service with acceptance criteria

Section Two: Management responsibility

In order to ensure your product or service is the best it can be, as well as leaving room for continual improvement, you need to make sure that you’ve defined and assigned responsibility and authority to the relevant members of staff.

You also need to know who is responsible for customer commitment and satisfaction, providing evidence of quality policy and objectives. That’s why this next section will look at the requirements needed to show management responsibility and review:

  • Evidence of defined roles for your team in regards to the Quality Management System
  • Documentation for responsibility, authority and communication
  • Results of the management review

Section Three: Resource management

Competence, training and awareness are important for the development of any product or service and staff should meet these requirements.

That’s why in this section, though only short, you will be required to provide evidence of what management have provided to their team in regards to infrastructure, work environment and HR. You’ll need documentation which reflects the following:

  • Records of any staff training
  • Evidence of skills, experience and qualifications relevant to the product or service
  • An outline of the procedure for competence, training and awareness

Section Four: Product realisation and design

This is one of the larger section with more requirements, though this is one of the more flexible areas depending on the nature of the goods or services you provide. For example, if your company doesn’t require you to do any design work then you of course can’t and won’t be able to provide many of these documents.

These requirements look at the planning, reviewing, designing and developing of your product or service from the beginning, putting provisions in place for selling and supplying. Hence why the required documents will differ between businesses, take a look at the below to see which are relevant to you:

  • Records of design and development outputs review of products or services
  • Record about design and development inputs
  • Records of design and development controls
  • Records of design and development outputs
  • Design and development changes records
  • Records about customer property

Section Five: Measurement, analysis and improvement

This final section addresses how you know that your Quality Management System is actually working and improving your goods or services as a result.

This will require you to provide evidence of monitoring, measuring and improving your product or processes. For this you will need to include:

  • Records of nonconforming outputs
  • Evidence of monitoring measurement results
  • Internal audit program
  • Results of internal audits
  • Results of corrective actions

This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Sean Huggett, Director and lead Data Protection & Information Assurance Consultant at Evalian.

Last updated: 22nd February, 2021

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