If you find yourself looking at various products for industrial use, you might find yourself often barraged by the fact that a certain company is quality certified, almost as if they’re wearing this distinction like some badge of honor that sets them above the rest of the competition. The problem is, what exactly does that even mean? Is being certified really such a big deal that it’s worth plastering all over a company’s website?
There’s a lot of different series standards but is the only one that actually requires certification. To help people better understand what exactly this standard means and why it’s so important, here’s this no-nonsense article to help convey what is meant to achieve.
The standard refers to an international standard for a Quality Management System or QMS. A proper QMS ensures you can produce products or services of a certain grade consistently, reliably, and most importantly, in a fashion that meets or exceeds the expectations of your customers, as well as any governing regulatory agencies.
A proper QMS involves documenting your quality assurance procedure, following that procedure, being able to adequately prove to outside parties that you do, in fact, follow the procedure, as well as what steps you’re taking to consistently improve that procedure over time. Proper QMS documentation includes how a procedure is meant to ensure that the expectations of customers, employees, and shareholders alike will be met.
Essentially, the standard is an international standard that outlines how comprehensive any given company’s processes are in the creation of their product, as well as how those processes match up with conducting their business in a way where all parties involved will be satisfied.
Important details about
A single person can’t be “quality certified.” There are auditors, but no individual can ever describe themselves as “quality certified.” Next, certification can be obtained for any industry, not just those that produce physical goods. For instance, a consulting company can be certified if their consulting process has been audited and determined to deliver a consistent standard of service time and time again.
Next, it doesn’t certify individual products or define product quality. Instead, it’s a certification of the processes themselves used to create that product. If the certified processes are used, the product will always meet the quality requirements outlined by the said processes. Next, certification is merely a certification. It doesn’t imply membership in any type of organization.
What principles is based on?
There are seven main principles in which is based on that create the overall backbone of what the certification is trying to accomplish:
Customer focus refers to how well your organization works to understand the expectations of your customer. It’s all about how well an organization does to understand the needs of their customers, meet those needs, as well as exceed them in the future.
This principle refers to the overall organizational culture within any given company. Essentially, does the management of the company work to be a quality provider of services within their industry? The philosophies of a certified company should be those that emphasize quality overtaking shortcuts, being a meaningful addition to their industry, as well as always striving to improve their procedures over time.
Engagement of people
A properly engaged company requires that they understand the expectations of all involved, and do everything in their power to ensure those needs are being met. For instance, their employees should have access to resources that help them understand the quality standards being set forth, as well as how to implement them in the real world. Being able to take in feedback from customers and integrate that into their processes is also a good example of a proper engagement.
Treating work as a process
Since it is entirely process-based, it’s important that each step of the business has been turned into a process that can be easily read and followed even by someone operating from outside the business. Each process is complete from beginning to end, setting up the next process in the chain.
The next major principle is that these processes can be constantly assessed, so that they may be improved. Proper auditing of your overall processes is necessary to figure out what gaps there may be, as well as how they can be improved in the future.
Decisions made based on evidence
Tying into the previous focus on improvement, these improvements need to be made based on objective, irrefutable evidence. That means data collection is paramount to being certified. Once all of this data has been pooled together, management can then use that data to make informed decisions about what needs to be changed about any given process.
The final principle that makes up is that relationships between customers, employees, suppliers, as well as shareholders, are all carefully managed. This management means that an environment is created where continuous understanding is created to always deliver as expected, while still leaving room for change and improvement if necessary.
All of these principles factor into an organization’s QMS to create a trustworthy, reliable set of processes that can be followed to a predictable outcome time and time again.
How does a company become certified?
The certification process takes a little bit of planning and time to be completed. First, a company will prepare how they will turn their existing processes into ones that fit within the parameters. This can be done in-house or by calling in specialists meant to help guide them along the process.
After the preparation phase, the company will then document everything related to, which includes its quality policy, the procedures involved, and any crucial addendums to both. From there, the documented policies and processes will have to be properly implemented within the company.
This process usually involves retraining employees to ensure they understand the new steps being taken, as well as changing their production to best fit with their documented goals. Then, after implementation, an internal audit is completed to see how well the implementation step went.
If everything is up to snuff after the internal audit and after two months of records have been collected, a company will have to call in an independent, third-party auditor to see if they can be certified. The auditor will speak to employees, look at a site as it completes work, as well as check your records and documentation of standards. Should everything be up to the standard, a certification will be issued.
Why does certification matter?
All of that information sounds fine and dandy, but how does it actually apply to a business, and why are they so proud of being certified? Well, this certification is a lot more than just a feel-good way for a business to know that they have a worthwhile system in place for ensuring the quality of their product, and that this process can be improved over time.
Being certified shows to any prospective customers or investors that the company has taken significant efforts into producing goods or services of a prescribed level of quality time and time again. The certification is an international certification, so a certified company in the USA takes just as much care into the process management as a certified company in India.
It also shows that their process isn’t just one that was created once and never meant to be touched as time goes on. It shows a level of involvement and understanding that’s only possible if the rigorous focus on data collection and continuous improvement are followed.
A simple example is that a cookie company that’s certified can be trusted if they say that each cookie will contain X amount of chocolate chips, each cookie will be within Y parameters in size, and that Z amount of cookies can be produced in a certain amount of time within those standards at a predictable price point.
For a more real-life example, a certified company like Supercool, which deals primarily with lubricants and oils, can be expected to produce those products in such a way where two bottles of oil from different production batches will be nearly indistinguishable from one another in function and physical attributes.
There you have it. That’s why companies must be certified and they must show that they conduct themselves in such a way where all of their processes are carefully monitored and vetted to ensure a quality product or service is delivered each time. Without certification, there’s no way to adequately ensure that any given company actually has a continuous commitment to their industry and the quality of their product that they claim without seeing their facilities yourself.