Many small and medium sized organizations (SMOs) have decided to implement a quality management system (QMS) based on the well-known standard ISO 9001. After reviewing the costs and benefits associated with the implementation and certification process, it is essential to take a look at what are the costs involved with maintaining a successful QMS.
The main costs associated with maintaining a QMS after ISO 9001 certification are:
- Periodically checking the condition of measuring instruments for their repair, maintenance and calibration.Here, the costs depends on the nature of the organization and in the complexity of its processes estblished with ISO 9001. In most SMOs, processes tend to be simpler with less specialized and sophisticated machines, which reduces the resources needed to keep their machines and instruments working in good conditions.
- Performing periodic internal QMS audits.Effective internal audits need to be planned, executed and their results monitored by qualified and experienced auditors for ISO 9001. For many SMOs, it can be time consuming and costly to train existing workers to perform these audits, that’s why it is highly recommended for these organizations to consider contracting out their internal audits in order to reduce the overall cost associated with this process.
- Training and raising awareness on matters related to the ISO 9001 QMS such as customer satisfaction, quality and improvement.These activities are easier and less expensive to do by SMOs than by large enterprises. It is far less expensive to train 100, 50 or less workers than attempting to train 500, 1000 or more.
- Surveillance and re-certification audits.Organizations have to cover the fees for the periodic surveillance audits by the certification body, and every three years a re-certification audit must be performed in order to maintain certification. It is important to note that certification is not mandatory; many organizations decide to implement ISO 9001 without seeking certification by an independent third party audit.
- Continuous improvement.This is one of the most important factors that will determine if a QMS will survive and thrive. A QMS must be used to continuously improve the efficiency of an organization’s processes, reduce waste and meet customer requirements on a continuous basis. Continuous improvement involves investing in correcting problems that may arise and eliminating their recurrence (associated with Corrective actions) and preventing problems from ever occurring (Preventive actions). The costs associated with this process varies with each organization. However, SMOs have an advantage because there is less bureaucracy and the decision makers are closer to the processes that need improvement, thus there is a greater probability that resources will be assigned exactly where and when they are needed.
Despite the resources needed, by maintaining a successful QMS, SMOs will benefit from lowering costs by reducing waste, improving the efficiency of their processes and having more satisfied customers who will come back for more products or services, which will contribute to the organization’s overall success.
To the novice quality manager, ISO jargon can be extremely overwhelming. What is an NCR? What do you mean by OFI? Are we certified or accredited? But before you go and pull out your hair, let’s take a moment to go over some of the most frequently used terms and their definitions with regards to ISO and Management System Certification.