By Phil Chambers
Health & Safety, Environmental and QA Services and Systems

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ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems

Many companies want to provide good quality products and services but you don’t have to be certified to ISO 9001 for this.  However, having third-party assessment of your QA practices, which is what you get with certification to ISO 9001, gives you a status which is recognised by most clients.  It used to be that ISO 9001 companies were in the minority and this would make them stand out.  Now companies are realising that they are going to be left behind without it.  I know of many companies who have lost contracts because they are not certified to ISO 9001.  Many clients invariably ask for ISO 9001. If they don’t, then tender documents will require you to go in to detail of your QA management systems.

The intention of this webpage is to answer some common questions and comments. More detailed information is available from
So, You Want 9001. If you've already got ISO 9001:2000 you will need upgrade to ISO 9001:2008. This is not onerous, tackled sensibly.

I've heard about quaility management systems and they involve masses of paperwork and time.

This is a common myth and is what I call the BS5858 curse. Once upon a time, this may have been true and you do find people out there who seem to love complex (and unworkable) systems. We, at SSS, cut through all of that and provide systems that require little effort to run and enable you to derive some major benefits. In fact, a reasonable proportion of our 9001 business involves mending previous systems.

How long does it take?

Not very long, really, but it does of course, depend on the size of the company. We aim to get you started in the first month and then there is a UKAS requirement that you have to have the system running for 3 months. After that, there are 2 external audits, typically spread over a month. So, you should be aiming at 5 or 6 months from start to certification.

SSS have an integrated approach to management systems. With companies for whom we have set up ISO 14001 and FSC/PEFC systems, it takes us less than 1 day to include the additional requirements.

So what is ISO 9001 and how do we go about getting certification?

ISO 9001 is a QA management standard.  Note that it is management standard, not a performance standard.  So it is not a just matter of doing the right thing; it is also how you approach that in an auditable, sustainable and improving way.
Essentially there are two steps to gaining certification:

What do I have to do to keep it running?

The way SSS set up systems, making use of purpose-designed software to help you, there is little additional effort required; it's not about doing more, it's about doing things in a more organised way. The only additional work is the need to audit your systems over a 12 month period. Some companies ask SSS to do this for them.

So where do we go from here?

I'd suggest that you read So, You Want 9001 or contact us and we'll discuss how we can go about it.

I have existing 9001 systems but they are difficault to use.

SSS provide a service where we mend such systems and make them workable. Many companies have derived significant benefits by having SSS upgrade their previous systems.  Contact us.

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