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The organisation compiles a Quality Manual, outlining the implementation of quality management procedures and how the ISO 9001: 2008 requirements are being met.
When the quality system and requirements are in place and established, organisations like the British Standards Institution recommend a pre-assessment by a third party to identify areas where an organisation may not be operating according the standard’s requirements and to help make effective change towards that goal.
Organisations then seek an independent auditing by a certification body to check conformity with the requirements of the standard and to ensure that they are working in practice. However, an organisation can implement ISO 9001: 2008 without having its management system audited and certified. ISO does not itself certify organisations. Most countries have formed accreditation bodies that in turn approve individuals and organisations to audit and certify organisations applying for ISO 9001: 2008 compliance certification.
In the UK, such accreditation is conducted by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS), the only UK accreditation body recognised by the Government. Organisations that seek certification to ISO 9001: 2008 are encouraged by the Government to use the services of those individual organisations that UKAS has authorised in order to receive the National Accreditation Mark. An ISO 9001: 2008 certificate is temporary and must be renewed at regular intervals recommended by the certification body – usually between one and three years.
A note on the ISO 14000 Series
ISO has also developed a family of environmental management standards called ISO 14000. ISO 14001:2004 is the certification standard similar to ISO 9001:2000 in concept and structure. They both require organisations that implement them to continually improve their performance. Both standards concern processes and not products directly. Both will share some similar benefits and limitations due to these similarities.
ISO 14001:2004 (the latest version) is primarily concerned with ‘environmental management’ or what the organisation does to minimise harmful effects on the environment caused by its activities. The ISO 14000 family consists of standards relating to Environmental Management Systems (EMS), which are tools to help the organisation develop its environmental policy, objectives and targets, and classify them by when they apply to:
ISO 14001:2004 ensures that organisations are aware of environmental aspects of their work in order to minimise negative impacts and improve environmental performance. ISO suggests that the standard can provide significant tangible benefits, including:
The standard can be implemented by a wide variety of organisations, whatever their current level of environmental maturity. However, a commitment to compliance with applicable environmental legislation and regulations is required, along with a commitment to continuous improvement.
Who can use ISO 9001: 2008?
The vast majority of ISO standards are highly specific to a particular product, material, or process. However, ISO 9001 (quality) and ISO 14001 (environment) are ‘generic management system standards’. ‘Generic’ means that the same standard can be applied to any organisation, large or small, whatever its product or service, in any sector of activity, and whether it is a business enterprise, a public administration, or a government department. ISO 9001 contains a generic set of requirements for implementing a quality management system and ISO 14001 for an environmental management system.
What resources are needed?
Senior individuals in an organisation will need to be fully committed.
Proficiencies or skills
Training in understanding the standards may be required. Actions taken to meet implementation to the requirements are left to the organisation itself. The organisation then needs to address the issues needed to comply with the standards.
Whilst this may vary depending on the size of the organisation and the change that has to be implemented, estimates from organisations the Charities Evaluation Services and the Scottish Executive indicate that it can take from between 6 and18 months to implement.
Courses, support, and information
The ISO website contains information on all aspects of the ISO 9000 family as well as hardcopies, a Magical Demystifying Tour of ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 and the ISO magazine, ISO Management Systems, and other publications.2 ISO publications include the handbook, ISO 9001 for small businesses.
Development, ownership and support
The ISO is responsible for developing, maintaining and publishing the ISO 9000 family. The ISO is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) network of the national standards institutes of 150 countries with one member per country, with a Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, that co-ordinates the system. It was created in 1947 and has a strategic partnership with the World Trade Organisation (WTO).3
The ISO does not itself audit or assess the management systems of organisations. The Scottish Executive estimates that a typical organisation of between 60 and 70 people would expect to pay £2,000–£3,000 for the initial assessment and £1,000–£1,600 each year for the audits, in addition to the cost of publications.
Third sector examples
Examples from other sectors
There are thousands of companies throughout the world that have implemented ISO standards. Articles giving examples can be found on the ISO website.
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