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Is ISO 9001 a waste of time?

Is ISO9001 a waste of time?

Could the answer be both yes, and no?

To explain this seemingly non-committal answer, lets first look at what the actual benefits of an ISO9001 Management System are.

ISO 9001 is the best-known, international quality management standard. It demonstrates a level of care when it comes to an organisations’ products, services and customer satisfaction, and it can be implemented by organisations of any size and sector.

Millions of businesses around the world have sought to implement this standard, but why?

Here are a few common reasons:

  • Improved chance of winning contracts

Having ISO 9001 certification can go a long way to securing work within both the public and private sectors. Within the public sector, certification to ISO 9001 is a strong sign that a business is well-run, and that quality is taken seriously.

Conversely, many private sector organisations have made it a requirement for their suppliers to be certified to ISO 9001. This is a common motivator for client’s contacting us.

  • Improved customer satisfaction

One of the most important aspects of the ISO 9001 (it’s even in the scope of the standard) is the satisfaction of customers’ requirements, and the correct management of any issues or complaints. ISO9001 certification demonstrates best practice in this arena.

  • Lower costs

Through the risk-based-thinking methodologies inherent in modern ISO standards, achieving and maintaining certification can help identify areas of the business that are not cost effective and put in place actions to improve them.

  • Streamlined business processes

Unnecessary paperwork and time-consuming administration is a burden of many organisations, as well as a common fear for implementing an ISO Management System. However, believe it or not an ISO 9001 system can actually reduce paperwork and administration tasks, and more and more teams are moving to fully digital Management Systems which is an excellent way of running one.

  • Continuous improvement

The term is a touchstone of ISO9001. A quality management system provides a solid foundation for improvements to be made year on year including those above, any many others.

That all sounds great, so what’s the catch?

Just like running a business, you get out of it what you put in, and gaining certification just to say you did it is the wrong approach entirely. Likewise, putting the wrong person in charge of a QMS (internally or externally) can make implementation seem like a bad business decision, rather than a tool to drive improvement.

A poorly handled management system can cause a whole host of issues across all levels of the business.

These can include:

  • A document/paper heavy system that is poorly integrated with existing policies and procedures.

  • Lack of commitment by top management, both in resource allocation and belief in the value of ISO9001 as a business tool.

  • Lacking the knowledge and understanding of what support it required and where to get it.

  • Not involving every level of the organisation in the creation and implementation of the QMS.

  • Access to poor, or even outright wrong information about the standard.

  • Poor communication channels, both internally and externally.

  • Limited understanding internally can prevent buy-in by employees.

  • Wasting time and resources managing the system, and/or gathering reams of useless data.

While gaining that all-important certificate is an important and valid reason to approach ISO9001; if it is the ONLY reason it can lead to many of the issues above, and in that sense ISO9001 is absolutely a waste of time, not to mention a waste of money. It’s no secret that implementation can be expensive (keep an eye out for an upcoming article on how to reduce these costs).

ISO9001 is a powerful business tool that in its current state is a far cry from its cumbersome roots, and whether you get certified to it or not, it can absolutely turn your business around. In the coming months we will have case studies right here on the blog to prove that, but it must be something you are willing to commit to and embrace.

How you navigate the terminology and put this all into practice is where we come in, providing you with simple, actionable steps to a successful, certified Management system. If you are looking to implement a management system or need help improving your current one, please feel free to get in touch at

So, is ISO9001 a waste of time? Hopefully we’ve shown you that the answer is yes and no, but we’d love to hear from you too. Head over to our LinkedIn, Facebook and/or Twitter page and let us know your thoughts.

Stay tuned for articles on more standards including ISO 27001, ISO 14001, ISO 17025, ISO 45001 and NHSS, here on the Blog.


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