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Our journey to ISO accreditation

Jo Hutchings talks us through our accreditation process. 'Quite simply, ISO 9001 is a manual and a set of processes, which will help us to manage and further improve the quality of our service to our clients.'

For us, the priority is all about maintaining and improving customer satisfaction. We also felt it was important to have ISO accreditation for those clients who require the credentials for their own systems.

Our timing was far from perfect, as we have started the process during the transition phase between ISO 9001:2008 version and ISO 9001:2015! We had heard that there were very few people trained in auditing and assessing ISO 9001:2015 at this point and so, based on this, we opted to go for ISO 9001:2008. However, we are incorporating some elements of the 2015 version as our aim is to achieve this as soon as possible, rather than wait for assessors to be trained.

We had tried to do our homework which include, reading lots of articles, creating a top level flow chart of how we work, plus reading the ISO standard so when we had our kick off meeting with consultant, Richard Allcock, we were relatively up to speed!ISO 9001 Accreditation Process

Next we identified our key processes (which we understand is a term that has been introduced for the 2015 manual but we are trying to incorporate this now!) I also spent a few days producing flow charts to document these processes. Richard’s feedback was that my colour coding wasn’t actually necessary for ISO 9001 but I like it so it’s staying! We could have outsourced this task but opted do this in house.

Richard was really supportive, helping us to identify the level of detail we needed to put into the processes, identifying ways of communicating our processes and highlighting the gaps we needed to document.

From the first kick off meeting with Richard, the key processes were finished in about three weeks.  Richard rather surprised me on the second meeting by saying we were working well and were nearly there. As a result we have now booked our first two internal audit days and official assessment days for mid February. Assuming everything goes to plan, and with fingers crossed, we should have our ISO 9001:2008 accreditation by March 2016!

So what will it mean when we finally have the accreditation? Ideally we hope our clients won’t actually notice any difference! We would like to think we’ve always delivered good quality service - and that will continue. Going forwards, as we continue to grow, we hope that the implementation of this quality management system will mean that the things that are important to us won’t change.

Additionally it means we will now become a viable option for those of you that were limited to ISO accredited companies before. If this applies to you, we look forward to receiving your next manufacturing problem soon!

If you would like to know more about ISO Accreditations full details can be found on their website here.

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