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It was nearly a year ago that the Bizmanualz Quality Management System (QMS) was certified to the ISO 9001:2008 standard by Platinum Registration. Nearly a year has passed since that ISO certification audit and, as required, Platinum returned last week to conduct a surveillance audit of our QMS. That is, they reviewed our quality documentation and records to verify that we were in compliance with ISO 9001 and our QMS is healthy. How did it turn out?
I’m happy to say we passed the ISO 9001 surveillance audit. We didn’t get through the audit completely blemish-free, but that’s to be expected.
(In fact, I’d be rather suspicious of an auditor if he/she didn’t identify something that needed improvement.)
Your registrar should find opportunities for improvement. Your QMS isn’t expected to be perfect. No matter how long you’re in business, you will never do things perfectly. That’s why continual improvement (clause 8.5) is in the international quality standard.
“Don’t worry about perfection. You’ll never achieve it.”
(Salvador Dali, 1904-1989)
Our ISO auditor did identify a few “issues”. If her concerns had been serious enough — if, for example, we didn’t have a quality manual, as clause 4.2.1(b) requires — she would be correct in writing major or minor findings. We’d be required to address those concerns…those findings…in a timely manner or risk losing our certification.
However, our ISO auditor identified several “statements of fact” (also called “observations”), which aren’t nearly as serious. We could ignore observations, which are a way of saying “you’re in compliance, so you don’t have to do anything.” Instead, we’ll use the auditor’s statements of fact to improve our QMS further.
You see, merely passing an audit isn’t good enough. Posting “ISO 9001 Certified” on your office wall, your stationery, and your product means nothing if you don’t back that term with action. If you don’t, your customers will see right through you.
That’s why customer satisfaction (clause 8.2.1) is a key requirement of the quality standard. In fact, you could argue customer satisfaction is the KEY requirement, and few would differ with you.
In the coming days, we’ll use the auditor’s statements to improve our system. And throughout the coming year, we’ll be doing a number of other things to continually improve our QMS. We have another surveillance audit in about a year from now and a recertification audit in 2012. We also have customers to take care of.
The Moral of the Story: Always practice the quality you preach and you’ll be ready for anything at any time. Right? Do you disagree?