Introduction to ISO 9001
ISO 9001, which is published by the International Organization of Standards (ISO), is a Quality Management Standard, providing guidelines for the development, implementation, and management of a quality management system. It is the world’s most popular standard and up to 2011 there were well over 1.1 million certificates issued across 178 countries and economies.
So why is ISO 9001 certification so popular? Because the standard has developed the reputation of being the way of proving an organisation’s quality credentials. As such, ISO 9001 is requested in many public and private sector tender situations, so the motivation to become certified is high, especially in the UK.
The truth is, not all businesses implement ISO 9001 because they have thoroughly researched the benefits and rewards of implementing the standard. In the UK at least, ISO 9001 is increasingly stipulated for public and private sector contracts; it’s not a case of want, they need to become certified if they want to win work.
Many experts say that because of this drive to obtain ISO 900 certification due to client demand, this is where the full benefits are not realised. ISO 9001 is simply a means to an end for some, but those who whole heartedly buy-in to the standard are the ones that reap the most.
Our own research in the BAB 2011 Client Satisfaction Survey revealed that ISO 9001 had in fact over-delivered. When asked for their motivation for implementing the standard, 33% of clients said their motivation for ISO 9001 certification was to win more work. Having achieved certification, 44% said ISO 9001 had won them more work.
A full breakdown* of the benefits realised from ISO 9001 certification is below:
- 44% won more business
- 34% became more organised/professional
- 19% gained greater client confidence/quality assurance
- 11% qualified for more tenders
- 6% improved their company profile
- 6% saved money/became more cost effective
- 5% secured existing clients
- 3% kept up-to-date with competitors
* Percentages equal more than 100% as some clients cited more than one benefit
“We won the contract for a new customer as a result of the ISO 9001. Without that we would not have had the business.”
– Keith Bicknell, BMH Contract Services
As a Certification Body, it’s all very well us saying ISO 9001 is fantastic, but we appreciate it is important to consider full independent reports too. Over the years, there have been quite a few. Read an overview and follow links to the ones we’ve found below…
ISO 9001 certified organisations have been shown to perform better in a study by the Harvard Business School. From a social view, it was better for all: after achieving a higher turnover, the companies questioned had to recruit more staff, who benefitted from an above-average wage.
Research carried out by Dun & Bradstreet supported this, showing increased employee involvement and cost reduction, in addition to greater market share gained having implemented the quality standard.
Unsurprisingly, the general impression from many studies is that ISO 9001 only reaps true rewards if an organisation implements the standard because it wants to, not just because it has to.