Because the ISO 9001 standard relates directly to conformity of products and services to meet customer demands and expectations, managers might be forgiven for thinking of it as a strategic issue, and the preserve of senior management teams. But while that may be where the responsibility for development and implementation lies, everyone in the organisation should be involved in the process of gaining and keeping certification. To inform staff of processes simply to prepare them for forthcoming audits misses a great opportunity. Once the benefits of the new standards are explained, staff will be better able to see how it can help them suggest new and improved ways of doing their jobs. Introductory training, therefore, should explore ways of opening up new channels of communication within the organisation.
How ISO 9001 has changed, and why your staff need to know
The 2008 standard has been revised to take into account global trading in an increasingly service-based economy. The new 2015 version has a stronger stakeholder and customer focus so that customers globally, both internal and external, can have confidence in the products and services that they are buying from certified suppliers. It’s still, therefore about managing systems and procedures and only too easy to assign existing processes and procedures to the new accreditation process.
Given the increased focus on business context, however, organisations are now free to define their own needs for documentation, taking into account their regulatory environments and customers’ needs. Who works, on a daily basis, with the documented procedures that managers put in place? The staff. What better way to achieve and implement successful change than collaboration with the people who can advise you as to what will work – and what will not? The people who implement processes on a day-to-day basis are the experts and therefore best placed to point out the strengths and weaknesses of suggested changes, and to make suggestions for further improvements.
The standard’s raison d’être is the achievement of improved levels of customer satisfaction. Managers working on certification are not usually in direct contact with those customers – whether end users or supply chain partners? Who better to report to managers on customer feedback than the people they’re in touch with regularly? The staff.
Don’t inform, involve
The question, then, is not one of informing staff but of involving them. After buildings, staff are probably the organisation’s most costly ‘resource’. Not to involve them in such an important development process would be to miss out on expertise, consultancy, and advice, not to mention energy and commitment. People are empowered by being involved, and once empowered they participate, contribute, and will make the on-going process of continuing accreditation a much happier and improved experience for all. Strong leadership is vital here, especially that which encourages a customer focus and a ‘right first time’ culture.
The 2015 standard of ISO 9001 is the means by which improved working practices throughout the entire organisation are developed and maintained. While accreditation is vitally important for the business, the process of achieving it can also go some way to motivating staff and making your business a great place to work.
If you’d like to find out more how ISO 9001:2105 could benefit your staff and your business as a whole, then why not give Synergos Consultancy a call on 01484 817 444, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, where our experienced and professional consultants can take you through every step of the certification process, involving your staff and, as a result, helping you, and them work smarter.