You've made the plans, built the quality system and conducted the audit. So how do you register your company as ISO 9001 conformant? And how can you be sure you're getting the most value for your investment? Here's how the process works.
Certifying Your Company and Quality System
After your company's ISO 9001 audit, you will want to register your company's quality system to show that you've met the requirements. And to do this effectively, you will need to follow eight essential steps.
1. Finding a Registrar
You'll need to begin searching for an ISO registrar during the 2 to 3 months your company is still building its quality system. You can search the Registrar Accreditation Board (RAB) at http://www.rabnet.com to select the registrar right for you.
2. Selecting a Registrar
Select a registrar that has experience within the scope category of your specific industry, which you can also find on the RAB site. Keep in mind accreditation, scheduling issues, fees and comfort level when selecting the registrar right for you.
3. Creating an Application
A company and a registrar will agree on the application, contract. This defines the rights and obligations of both parties, and includes liability issues, confidentiality and access rights.
4. Conducting a Document Review
The registrar will require a copy of your quality manual and procedures to verify that all the requirements of the standard are addressed. Allow 2-4 weeks in advance for the registrar to fully review all of the necessary documents.
5. Determining Preassessment
Though optional, this 2-4 week initial review of the system identifies any significant omissions or weaknesses. It saves time and allows the registrar to assess any issues and resolve logistics before the actual assessment audit.
6. Issuing an Assessment
During the audit, or physical onsite inspection of procedures in action, the auditors will issue findings if they assess anything that doesn't meet requirements, or nonconformities. The length of this step will depend on the scope of the audit and the size your organization.
7. Completing ISO Registration
After all of the findings are put into the audit report and nonconformities are addressed, your company has the option to register as ISO 9001 conformant. You will receive a certificate and can also be listed in a register, which the company can use to publicize its registration and use in advertising.
8. Checking with Surveillances
To ensure that the system is maintained and that changes don't result in deficiencies in the system, registrars perform regular surveillances of the system. Over the three-year period of your certificate, auditors will perform one full and two partial checks of your system.
Considerations in Planning
The Document Review and Preassessment typically require 2-4 weeks each. However, the number of registrars and the number of days for each stage of the registration audit depends on the size and complexity of your organization. So set target dates accordingly to allow both you and the registrar time to fully prepare.
Strong Return on Your Internal Audit Investment
Always keep in mind, registration should provide you with valuable feedback to improve your system. So make sure to seek the appropriate registrar, and take full advantage of the entire audit process. After all, it's your company, it's your registration, and so make sure you get a strong return on YOUR investment.
Chris Anderson has over 18 years of sales, marketing and business management experience working with business process design, software and systems engineering. He is also co-author of policies and procedures manual products, producing the layout, process design and implementation to increase performance. He is currently the Managing Director of Bizmanualz, Inc.
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