What is ISO 9001 and Why Should You Care?

lean manufacturing, HVAC, CRAC, CRAH

“What is ISO 9001, how does it help me, and why should I care?” you ask.

The International Organization for Standardization, better known as ISO, is an international standard-setting body formed by representatives from various national standards organizations who promotes worldwide proprietary, industrial and commercial standards. An ISO certification is a guarantee that a company’s products and services are safe, reliable, and of high quality.

The easiest way to think of an ISO-compliant quality management system is to consider the four basic ISO building blocks.

Basic ISO Building Blocks of a Quality Management System

ISO 9001 registered companies must:

Say what they do.  They must have written procedures.

Do what they say.  They need to follow those written procedures.

Prove it.  They must meet all the ISO requirements and pass regular internal audits and surveillance audits.

Improve it.  The company must take continual corrective or preventive actions to improve the business; they must strive for “continual improvement.”

So now you may be thinking, “That’s wonderful, but how exactly does that help me?”

Well, the whole purpose of the ISO 9001 standard is to create a better business system aimed at improving products and services so that customers will benefit.  So, you see, it really is all about you after all.

ISO 9001 Certification is Customer Focused

In fact, the word “customer” appears over 30 times in the rather short text of the standard.  There is even a requirement that registered companies “shall monitor information relating to customer perception as to whether the organization has met customer requirements.”  We must know what our customer’s perception is, and it must be auditable – remember the “prove it” part above?

How can we determine the customer’s perception?  Well, there is much information available to us including site visit reports, case management history, emails and extensive documentation of phone and conference calls that may have taken place.  We also take into consideration warranty claims and customer complaints as part of their perception assessment and to determine whether we’ve met all their requirements.  Engineering, service, sales and marketing departments are continuously collecting information on what the customer thinks and feels.  There are various and ongoing communications about product design, price and delivery.  We also have constant communication after an order is placed regarding delivery, color and any changes that a customer might request after the initial order.

Developing an Organization of Continuous Improvement

ISO 9001:2015 is also based in the continuous improvement concepts and practices.  Here at Data Aire the last couple of years especially have seen many Lean Manufacturing and business process improvements such as 5S, PDCA cycles, Gemba Walks, Kaizen Events, TAKT, Level Loading, Value Stream Mapping, defining Standard Work, establishing KPI metrics and developing improved Root Cause Analysis investigations.  All of this comes together to strengthen our business and further develop a culture of continuous improvement. Our ISO 9001 compliant quality management system is the structure that enables all of this.

We have addressed what is ISO 9001 and some of how that can help you but the question that comes to my mind is not what or how, but why?  Why does it matter and in what context?

Commitment to Delivering Solutions to Our Customers

I know that we can address the four basic ISO building blocks and we could list probably a dozen reasons why adopting and maintaining an ISO 9001:2015 compliant quality management system will benefit us and all our customers. That could be an informative practice, but it still does not address the context of ISO requirements.

I would like to suggest that if you are reading this, you may be interested in our precision HVAC systems for mission critical spaces, and to me this is the context of why ISO 9001 matters.  It enables us to be who we intend to be: a solid team of devoted people committed to our guiding core values of “Creativity, Solutions Driven, and Integrity”.  ISO 9001 certification assures that we stand by our slogan “Precise by Design” by Data Aire.

This is the why, the context of our business and where we employ ISO 9001:2015 to ensure success in delivering solutions for our customers’ mission critical environments and in learning and improving continually.  This is our commitment.  It is our what and our how and our why.