How to get ISO 9001 Certification is a frequently asked question by many companies looking to improve their quality and business performance. Implementing a quality management system according to the ISO 9001:2015 standard and getting it certified by a certification body (Registrar) are the keys to getting ISO 9001 Certification.
The ISO 9001 Certification process involves various steps like hiring a consultant, choosing a registrar, stage 1 certification audit, stage 2 certification audit, addressing non-conformities, and issuance of the certificate. Surveillance audits are required to maintain the validity of the certificate. Below are the key steps in how to get ISO 9001 Certification:
- Hiring an ISO 9001 Consultant: If you are like most organizations that lack the internal resources, skills, and time to properly implement ISO 9001 standards, then hiring an experienced ISO 9001 Consultant is your best answer to the question of how to get ISO 9001 Certification. It is often very confusing to choose a consultant who best meets your specific needs. When you search the internet for an ISO 9001 consultant, you may come across several of them. You may look for someone who:
- Operates within the confines of a budget: Get a proposal and fixed quote that covers all aspects of ISO 9001 implementation from creating customized documents to getting you certified.
- Location: ISO 9001 consultation involves multiple visits by your consultant. Hiring someone close to you saves you travel and accommodation expenses.
- Consultant’s track record: Proper implementation of ISO 9001 Quality Management System is critical in the certification process. Look for someone familiar with the process and with several years of expertise.
- Hiring a Registrar/Certification Body: Once your ISO 9001 Implementation is complete, hiring a Certification Body to Certify the quality management system that you have implemented is the second part of the answer to the question of how to get ISO 9001 Certification. ISO Certification Body/ISO Registrar conducts the ISO 9001 Audit and issues the ISO 9001 Certification. There are several certification bodies based abroad and having sales offices in America. Your ability to verify their credibility and ensure accountability is higher when they are US based. A three-year contract with your certification body covers everything from initial certification to two subsequent surveillance audits.
- Stage One Certification Audit: Sometimes referred to as the “Documentation Audit”, this is the stage one certification audit. Usually, it is an offsite audit by the certification body to understand the scope of your quality management system and review your quality management system. The purpose of this stage one audit by the registrar is to verify your readiness for a full-scale audit.
- Stage Two Certification Audit: The Stage Two Certification Audit is the external audit by the certification body or registrar. They perform an extensive evaluation of your quality management system to verify that it is effective and in compliance with ISO 9001 requirements. The duration of the Stage Two Certification Audit can vary from a day to several days based on the number of your employees, and the number of locations, size, and scope of your business. An ISO 9001 Certification audit usually starts with an opening meeting with your management team, followed by facility tours, interviews with your staff and management, and a closing meeting. At the end of every audit, you will have an opportunity of clarifying any non-conformity observed by the certification body.
- Nonconformities: A nonconformity is any failure to meet a requirement like failure to follow a procedure. Non-conformities are issued when issues are identified that fail to comply with an ISO 9001 requirement and when your quality management system is not effective. They are categorized as minor and major. A major non-conformity is an issue that affects the whole system and a minor nonconformity is something that affects part of the system. A non-conformity could also indicate an issue where your quality management system is not effective. When you are issued with a non-conformity, you must respond to it by raising a CAPA (Corrective and Preventive Action). This is the corrective action taken to prevent the recurrence of nonconformity by determining the root cause (s). Corrective action is defined as the action taken to prevent the recurrence of a nonconformity.
- Scope of your quality management system,
- Surveillance audit dates
- How long your certificate is valid for
- Issuance of Certificate: Your Certification body will issue the certificate once you have successfully completed your two-stage certification audit. All non-conformities have to be addressed with corrective action plans. An ISO 9001 Certificate will state the following:
- Scope of quality management system
- Surveillance audit dates
- How long is your certificate valid for?
- Surveillance Audits: Once you have answered the question of how to get ISO 9001 certification, the next question is how to maintain your certification. The ISO 9001 Certification is valid for three years from the date of issuance of the certificate. However, to verify that your quality management system maintains conformance with ISO 9001 requirements, the certification body is required to conduct annual surveillance audits for the next two years following the issuance of the certificate.
FREE ISO 9001 CONSULTATION: Liberty Management Group (LMG) offers a free, onsite ISO 9001 consultation. Whether you are just starting out on building a quality management system from scratch or need to evaluate your existing system for ISO 9001 certification, our experienced consultants will be able to give advice and guide you through the entire process of implementation and certification of ISO 9001.
After the initial onsite visit, we will provide you with an estimate of the cost and time frame of the ISO 9001 implementation and certification process. No contract or commitment is required unless LMG is selected to provide any further service.