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What is ISO 9001 quality management

Thursday 30th June 2016

ISO 9001 remains the most popular and adopted international standard for Quality Management Systems. There are over 1,000,000 companies and organisations that are certified to the ISO 9001 standard worldwide. However, for companies that are setting out on the journey of ISO 9001, they will be asking the questions ‘What is ISO 9001?’ and ‘What does it do for my company?’

What is ISO 9001? 

ISO 9001 is an international standard that sets out requirements for companies to include in a 'quality management system'. These requirements ensure the organisation can satisfy their customers now and into the future. ISO 9001 focuses the organisation to act on processes that affect the quality of products and services they provide to ensure they are consistent and meet applicable requirements. There are many incorrect perceptions to the question ‘What is ISO 9001’, in that people believe they can buy a manual or set of documents and simply present them to an auditor to gain certification.

What does ISO 9001 do? 

The requirements within ISO 9001 provide you with a framework to build a quality management system that supports your intention to continually improve. You set your own agenda, but by following a series of principles (such as Plan-Do-Check-Act), your organisation develops a stronger management capability to improve your processes and activities. The ISO 9001 standard sets out a risk-based management approach to ensure you focus on the priority areas first and foremost. 

What can I hope to achieve with ISO 9001:2015? 

The ISO 9001:2015 Standard identifies four key areas that you should achieve as an organisation by adopting the Standard: 

Meet Customer and Statutory Requirements 
The ISO 9001 standard contains several clauses that require an organisation to plan and review management processes related to its products and service delivery. By meeting these, the organisation will improve its ability to consistently meet applicable customer, statutory and regulatory requirements. 

Enhance Customer Satisfaction
A key principle of ISO Management Standards is ‘Customer Focus’. The requirements within the ISO 9001 standard focus managment activities to enhance customer satisfaction by gaining relevant feedback from interested parties about products and services, and acting on it positively. Understanding customer needs now, and into the future will help build a sustainable business. 

Manage applicable Risks and Opportunities 
The latest version of the ISO 9001 standard focuses the need for an organisation to identify potentially disruptive issues, which can result in risks to the organisation, and also opportunities that it could take to improve any given situation. This is helpful to an organisation in that it helps them prioritise resources and activities on the areas of the business that are relevant to it, as opposed to creating a difficult bureaucracy that impedes progress. 

Demonstrate to others that you meet the ISO 9001:2015 standard
A key reason for many organisations to adopt ISO 9001:2015 is that Customers stipulate it. This saves the Customer the need to carry out costly Supplier Audits, and saves you as the organisation the need to host multiple audits, which all have slight variations on the same requirements.

By being able to demonstrate conformity to the ISO 9001 standard, you are giving them confidence in your ability to provide sound products and services, and security that when changes to working arrangements occur, you are well-placed to manage them.  You are also giving assurance to your Customers that you have robust processes for when things don’t go to plan, for example in the event of complaints or non-conformance.

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