What are the basic requirements of ISO 9001?

I'm often asked: "What's this ISO 9001:2015 quality management system thing that Best Practice is coming out to evaluate?" So, to respond to that, I'll offer up a little bit of advice.

Ultimately, it's about meeting your customers’ requirements, as well as the all-important measuring - and monitoring - of those customers' satisfaction levels.

At the back of the standard, they talk about customer satisfaction, but there's nothing at the front of the standard, it just talks about what it is that you need to set up to do.

What you want to begin with is: think about the promises that you make to customers, and the promises that you that you make to your industry. There’s probably five that you make, but there's often five that you don't think about, such as the implied promises that your customers expect but haven't necessarily been discussed.

Think about when you go and buy a new car for example, you go to the dealership and have a look at this car, and then you go away for a couple of days and think about it. You then ring up and say "great, I'm going to take it, so you go to pick it up. You expect it to be washed, polished, clean, vacuumed, most importantly of all, operational and running. While it wasn't explicitly agreed upon that this would be the condition you'd pick it up in, it’s expected; a norm of doing business.

So, keeping that in mind, make sure that when you build your management system and the policies, procedures and processes that lay inside, they're going to support you with your implied promises. They're going to support not only the promises that you make, the great things about your service - your features and benefits or your differentiators - but also think about your customers.

Think from your customers’ shoes: what is it that they truly want from you, what value are you really adding in their business that is valuable, what is that final product that you're giving them. It's not necessarily about you, it's about them. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what it is that they need, what it is that they want and what is your product or service doing in supporting those needs.

In turn, when your developing your policies and systems, ultimately what we're looking for is an embedded cycle of continual improvement. We want to see that you've defined your critical processes, in a way that clearly shows to us, the outcome of the promises, both implied and communicated. Then you've got a cycle of management review in place, so you're going through that cycle of continual improvement to make sure your systems are documented, implemented and maintained, and ultimately that's what we're looking for as an accredited body.

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