Transition to ISO 9001:2015 brings benefits to businesses
The updating of the ISO 9001 standard has brought with it new requirements including: identification, monitoring and review of external and internal issues relevant to purpose and strategic direction; identification of interested parties relevant to the QMS, and monitoring and review of their needs and expectations; and determination of the ‘scope’ of the QMS. In other words, the revised standard covers the way a business is run as well as how it manages quality. So how has it impacted the businesses which have transitioned to the new standard?
Heat treatment specialist Flame Hardeners is one company which has managed the transition, and managing director Roger Haw comments: “When we were required to follow a transition from ISO9001:2008 to ISO9001:2015 we voiced some criticism of the new standard as we felt that the 2015 standard focused heavily on management rather than being a quality management system.”
To assess the impact of the standard on its business, the company carried out a review 18 months in. “The 2015 standard has changed the way that we maintain contact with our customers, and we now have much more interaction with them when assessing their needs and requirements,” Haw explains. “Although we have always maintained a very good personal relationship with customers (we are on first name terms with 85% of them), we previously relied on annual customer satisfaction surveys to either listen to and respond to their requirements, or to give ourselves a pat on the back if they were extremely complimentary. We now make random checks with customers throughout the year to get their impression on how we performed on particular orders.
“A more formal system of analysis has been initiated to examine our internal performance, with a monthly summary providing a review of our actual performance against our declared targets for quality and delivery. It has shown that we maintain a general customer satisfaction ratio of 96%, and a satisfaction ratio of 94% for speed of response to enquiries.”
The analysis breaks down the reason for any delay in delivery into one of the following categories: waiting for approval from customer of test piece or sample; delay at subcontractors; capacity problems; processing time; plant repairs/failures, material issues; staffing problems; and customer errors.
“Review of the above enables us to look for elements of continual improvement, as required by the standard,” continues Haw. “It also helps as a management tool in identifying any specific areas that require our attention in any particular period. Surprisingly, material issues (either material not to specification or material supplied by customer not being the correct material) accounted for 15% of delays in the previous twelve months, while customers supplying incorrect process specifications or instructions accounted for 9% of delays in delivery.”
Internal publication of this analysis, together with results of customer satisfaction surveys, on a specially created ‘Quality Bulletin Board’, informs company members about its performance and allows for feedback from them to improve the situation.
“We have concluded, therefore, that, by obliging us to consider a broader approach to maintaining good customer relations, the revised standard has, in fact, assisted us in having a greater appreciation of our customers’ needs and requirements, and also in building a more effective internal team,” summarises Haw.
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