This article attempts to explain the common challenges that businesses often come across while achieving the ISO 9001 certification. It tries to provide you with appropriate solutions to each challenge.

There is no doubt that great business strategies or investments come with challenges. The ISO 9001 certification is one of the milestone achievements for businesses that standardises their Quality Management System (QMS) with incorporation of best practices. It calls for a change in the core processes of the organisation which result in many barriers, resistances, and challenges. The real challenge is to understand each of the barriers and find some ways to remove them and get certified. This article focuses on the most common obstacles that a business can face while getting the ISO 9001 certification and provides some useful guidelines to overcome them.

5 Challenges to ISO 9001 Implementation for Businesses

Misconceptions about ISO 9001

A lot of resistance comes from within the organisation i.e., from the employees who believe in the prevalent myths or misconceptions about the ISO 9001 standard implementation. Even many senior management executives believe those concepts such as the company must be large to achieve the certification, there is need for too much documentation, there would be loss of flexibility in operations, increase in the responsibilities of the employees, etc. While these beliefs are not at all true, it is necessary to spread awareness of the standard and its purpose in the organisation to change the perceptions of employees. For that, the management team itself should understand the value of ISO 9001 and initiate training programs for the employees. Perhaps, a professional consultant can help them to overcome all their fears.

Improper Delegation of the ISO 9001 QMS Responsibility

Mostly the management team delegates the responsibility of operating the ISO 9001 compliant QMS to a quality manager or a team of some members. However, it is not a mere task manageable by a few persons. There are many steps involved such as gap analysis, documentation, record keeping, auditing, setting strategic objectives, establishing quality policy, collecting customer feedback, reporting of complaints, and so on. Hence, the management team should take leadership in the implementation of the ISO 9001 QMS, delegating responsibilities to not one but various departments across the organisation. They should also communicate the policy and objectives and provide a strategic direction to their quality management.

Excessive Cost and Resources Required for QMS Implementation

Organisations also worry that the budget and resources required to implement the QMS and get it certified are too high. It is a major challenge, especially for small-sized businesses. They think that additional resources i.e., staff are required to carry out the associated tasks such as document keeping, auditing and monitoring the QMS, managing the changes in processes, etc. While costs and resources are necessary for QMS implementation, it is never too much, and organisations can also optimise them according to their budget and resource constraints. Seeking a consulting guide is quite helpful to optimise the costs and resources. The consultants would tell you about the priority processes of the QMS that you should invest in and the ones that can be initiated later.

Also, you should consider the costs of poor quality in your business and weigh them against the costs for QMS implementation. When implemented properly, the benefits and added value to your business will offset all the costs in the future.

Setting Unrealistic Expectations

Many organisations expect too much in too short a time or expect impractical outcomes from the ISO 9001s. Therefore, meeting all their unrealistic expectations becomes a major challenge and it becomes even more difficult if the QMS is the responsibility of a single team or a quality manager. Therefore, setting up realistic expectations is the key, and you should consult with separate teams of your organisation to set up achievable and realistic expectations.

Lack of Internal Audit Practice

This can be a major hurdle in the success of your ISO 9001 certification. It stems from the lack of commitment by the management team, lack of employee awareness or understanding of the QMS. Internal auditing is a mandatory practice before as well as after the certification and must be carried out at periodic intervals (between 3-6 months). It is a practice of thoroughly evaluating the QMS and its processes to find means of improvements. It also makes sure that the QMS is conforming to the ISO 9001 requirements. Thus, your management team should schedule audits, provide training to employees, and select qualified assessors or hire them from an external consultancy to conduct periodic audits.

When an organisation decides to obtain the ISO 9001 certification, these are the key obstacles that may come across their path. While some of them are pure misconceptions, some are easy to overcome. Therefore, what you most need is a determined management team and a consulting support that can help you overcome these hurdles with effective solutions.

Author's Bio: 

Damon Anderson is the owner of a successful and long-established ISO certification consultancy in Australia that offers all types of consultation services and guidance to businesses that want to be certified. He is the lead consultant for the ISO 9001 certification and has assisted more than a hundred businesses to implement QMS and get certified. He is a dedicated writer too and likes to spend his free time penning down his knowledge and talking about his relevant experience in the certification.