Understanding More About Management Standard ISO 9001 Certification

As part of a 3 part blog we will be looking at experiences with certification bodies. Last week we discussed price and days on-site. In this blog I would like to discuss compliance vs. business focused approaches to certification.

Note that as with the previous article the following information is not targeting specific certification bodies and is based on personal experiences.

A client of ours had previously engaged a certification body before we met them to reach ISO 9001. The auditor stressed out the client to the point that they were concerned that they would ever get certified. Some of the issues the client raised about the certification body included:

  • Telling the client that in order to provide a quality service, he had to provide more services than the client had requested. He told them that if a vehicle had a broken axle and a dent in the bumper he had to repair the dent in the bumper even if the client had just asked for the axle repair. Think about it… how many times would you go back to a shop that charged you for more services than you wanted to expend?
  • The auditor would stress out the staff by standing behind them and watching everything they did. He would ask excessive questions that would distract them from their work
  • The auditor expected a procedure for everything (Not a requirement of the standard)
  • As part of his audit criteria, the auditor expected the employees to know exactly where to find a procedure in the manual
  • He would argue with the client, and use his position to steam roll the client’s ideas
  • Tried to force the clients to change their processes in ways not required by the standard but were his interpretation of the standard.

Consequently the client was quite confused about their own work. There was even some thought about cancelling the certification process.

The client however asked for a second opinion and spoke to one of our sales people. After some encouragement and debriefing, the client decided to give it another go.

All went well of course with the next auditor. No problems, in fact zero corrective actions.

What was the difference between the two certification bodies? The next auditor:

  • Was friendly and put everyone at ease
  • Knew the standard well and didn’t enforce any of their interpretations as a means to penalize the client
  • Was business focused rather than just compliance.

What the first auditor failed to understand is that ISO 9001 is about meeting client requirements. He failed to notice that the client he was auditing was a great business that had beat out all other competitors in his niche for an important defense contract and has held onto that contract for many years. I think the auditor’s need to take the real world into consideration while there auditing. Typically if a business is as successful as this organization is you need to realize that they are already more than likely meeting most of the requirements of ISO 9001, you just need to look around and not rely on stale interpretations of the standard.