The Most Common Mistake in ISO9001-2008 Quality Management Systems

It happened again last week. I visited a new client who wants to get their ISO9008-2008 certification. They already have a quality system that’s largely in conformance with the ISO9001-2008 quality standard. But it goes far beyond the requirements of the standard. In fact, it goes much farther than the company actually needs. This company, with about 40 people, has a quality system that is much more complex and burdensome than it needs to be. Consequently they’re not following it.

The single most common mistake I’ve seen in quality systems is making them too big, too complex, too burdensome to be useful. Somewhere along the way people have gotten the notion that an ISO9001-2008 quality management system has to be this big, demanding monster.

Some of the blame has to go to greedy “consultants” who are trying to milk their clients as much as they can. Last year I worked with a client company of 12 people. A previous consultant had given them a quality manual of over 100 pages. No kidding! The company owner, not having the time or desire to research this himself, figured that getting ISO9001 certification was just too far beyond his capacity, so shelved the project for a year. Six months ago this small company received their ISO9001-2008 certificate, with a workable, 19 page quality manual.

Recently I had a conversation with a newly-hired employee at a client company. The company had recently switched to a new software, and the order entry process changed. In a meeting with several people I mentioned the need to scrap or revise the old documented procedure. The new employee replied “what do you mean ‘scrap’ the procedure?” I told her that such a procedure was not a requirement of ISO9001-2008. It was optional, and based on a subjective evaluation of whether or not such a procedure was deemed important and critical to the operation of the company. She argued a bit with me, saying that surely this procedure was a requirement of ISO9001-2008. Sorry, it’s not. While you may feel it’s necessary for YOUR company, it’s not a requirement of ISO9001-2008. One of the beautiful things about ISO9001-2008 is the flexibility it gives organizations to decide, in many cases, what’s important and necessary to that organization. Of course there are a few things that are required, such as a corrective action program, internal audits, etc. But the choice to document your company’s processes is up to you. If your company has a very stable workforce, with experienced people, you don’t necessarily need another document that will never be used.

My philosophy has always been to keep quality systems as simple and easy to follow as possible. If you want to add more bells and whistles down the road, that’s great. But first you have to get your quality system working, and working for you.

Similar Posts:

Leave a Reply