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ISO System Effectiveness

Why are some ISO systems more effective than others?

Table of Contents

ISO Success Factors

ISO 9001 has been the most widely adopted set of quality management systems ever conceived.

Implementing an ISO-based quality management system can be a tremendous benefit to organizations.  Some organizations have achieved as high as a 1700% ROI by implementing ISO. Other ISO systems have doubled sales and quadrupled profits in less than 5 years.

For the average ISO implementation organization however, ISO has become a mediocre initiative for helping an organization remain effective &/or competitive.  On average, PQA estimates that ISO has helped companies achieve only a 16.25% return on investment.  Pretty poor, especially considering ISO's maximum potential.  When management, stockholders, and accountants are demanding pay backs of 100% to 300% (ie. 1 year to as short as a 4 month payback), ISO can easily become an also-ran, or a non-starter.

Why has ISO failed to live up to its full potential?

Based on PQA's research on why some companies had such great success with their ISO implementations and others failed spectacularly, PQA has identified 10 Critical Success Factors that make an ISO implementation successful. They are:

  1. Sr. Management's recognition of their crucial role in the ISO system management process

  2. ISO involvement at all levels, jobs, and areas in the organization

  3. Understanding of the organizational processes and the critical control points in the process.

  4. People trained in how to do their job, and interact effectively with the whole system

  5. .
  6. Focusing on organizational development & improvement, not  just the bare minimum (ie. what the ISO Registrar is willing to accept today)

  7. Finding balance between excess ISO bureaucracy, and insufficient ISO system depth to ensure consistent results.

  8. Dedication to following the agreed systems at all levels in the organization

  9. Keeping the organization focused on meeting the ISO implementation timeline

  10. Effective ISO auditing (ie. Sr. Management knows the ISO status, the risks, and gets actionable recommendations for rapid improvement)

  11. Timely management response to ISO audit results.

If a consultant was relied upon to guide the ISO implementation, the fault for a poor ISO implementation may very well lie with the consultant.  Was the consultant's advise understood, and followed by Sr. Management?  Most Sr. Management get distracted very early in the ISO implementation process, then abdicate (Sr. Management calls it "delegate") the ISO implementation process to staff or consultants.  The effective ISO implementation is often sacrificed for a quick ISO certificate on the wall with minimal effort and costs.

For quality consultants to be effective, they need to have a good understanding both of ISO 9001 and the sector or company they are seeking to apply it to. Effective ISO 9001 implementation is supposed to lead to improved productivity, efficiency, consistency and client service. If ISO 9001 is not delivering this, then it has not been effectively implemented.

PQAs ISO Auditing Services

To overcome the limitations caused by poor or incomplete ISO implementations, PQA has developed ISO auditing techniques to help Sr. Management effectively respond to these significant challenges.  Find out about PQA's ISO Auditing Services.

PQA's ISO Expertise

PQA's Sr. Consultants have been doing Quality Assurance for more than 27 years.  One of our Sr. Consultants was involved in the very first ISO 9001 implementations in Canada at Northern Telecom (Nortel), Bramalea..  Long ago, we learned what worked and what didn't.  Today, we are still learning what works even better.

PQA has the years of experience in numerous industries and sectors of the world economy.  PQA has worked for multi-nationals (Fortune 100's) as well as 2-person startups.  PQA knows the tough questions that must be asked, and how to help our clients develop effective answers to those tough questions.

PQA provides ISO consulting, auditing, and implementation assistance for a wide range of ISO management systems:

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