ISO9001:2000 FAQ’s Part 2

How long will it take us to get our ISO9001:2000 accreditation?

This is a really tough question, kind of like asking “how long will it take us to get our company organized?”. It all depends, and on several factors.

It depends on things like:
The size of your organization
The quantity and complexity of your processes
The level of organization and documentation already in place
How many man-hours you will commit each week to implementing it
Whether or not you hire an experienced person, either as an employee or consultant

If you’ve got a company of 10 people, you don’t have many complex processes, and you’re really motivated, you can probably get it done in 6 weeks. For companies of 11 to 50 employees, I’d estimate a time of 3 to 4 months. Larger companies can expect it to take from 4 to 8 months. If you’ve got more than 100 employees, and don’t have a lot of man-hour commitment, it could conceivably take a year. I’m talking here about the time needed to figure out your processes, add new ones if needed to meet the ISO standard, document everything according to ISO9001 standards, and train everyone in the new way of doing things.

Once you’ve got your new quality system in place, you’ll need some time to operate it and produce evidence that you’ve actually implemented it. Typically I’d advise at least 2 months, maybe 3 or 4, from the time you’re system is fully implemented to the time you get your registration audit. During this time you will be creating certain records that must be there to provide your auditor with evidence that you’re meeting the requirements of ISO9001:2000. If you’re under the gun from a customer to get certified, remember to take into account this period of time.

What kind of documentation is needed? Is it as complicated as I’ve heard?”

Many people who’ve heard of ISO9001:2000 are under the misconception that a mountain of documentation is needed to achieve certification. There is documentation needed, to be sure. But it’s probably not as bad as you think. Again, it depends on the size and complexity of your organization.

A quality manual is required, and a set of quality procedures is required. Your quality manual could be as little as 5 to 10 pages, or as much as…..well, as much as you like. The ISO standard requires a minimum of six quality procedures, which are specified by the standard. You’ll probably want to have more procedures which are necessary to operate your specific business, but only six are required. The six required procedures are:
1. Control of documents
2. Control of records
3. Internal audit
4. Control of nonconforming product
5. Corrective actions
6 Preventive actions

You might want to document other procedures, such as how to approve vendors, how to process sales orders, shipping and receiving inspection, things like that. But that’s optional.

Also optional are work instructions. Work instructions might be procedures on how to operate a particular printing press, how to mix chemicals for a certain process, how to process a purchase order, or anything else you feel is important enough to document. You want to make sure everyone is doing things the way you want them to be done. Documented procedures also make it easier to train future employees.

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