How much does it cost to get ISO 9001 certification?
There are two kinds of costs:
- the cost associated with getting ready to be certified, and
- the costs of the certification.
For 1. Getting Ready, the cost will always vary depending on factors that include:
- What shape are you in now? Good, bad or pretty ordinary?
- How much experience (if any) do you have with quality management? With ISO 9001? With management systems?
- What resources do you have available? What skills, knowledge and experience do they have?
- Will you do it yourself? Use a DIY ISO 9001 kit? (If so, my DIY kit can definitely do the job extremely well) Use the services of a quality management consultant? Hire a resource in?
All these factors affect cost. Simply asking how much? without answering them first won't give an accurate result.
An analogy: could you ask a travel agent, How much does a holiday cost? and expect an accurate answer? Because they'd need to know things such as: Where do you want to go? When and for how long? How many people are going? Do you want to fly, take trains, go on a bus or hire a car? Do you want stop-overs, or will you go direct? And so on.
For 2. Certification Costs, you will need to get quotes from certifiers. They will ask you to supply certain information such as the size of your company, number of personnel, what you do, types of services or goods and so forth. As a rough indication, for a small company with a single location and fwer than 50 employees, you could perhaps expect to budget perhaps around $4k AUD per year. Costs seem to be a bit lower in the USA.
Factors that have most influence on cost and time:
- The commitment and quality awareness of the business owner/senior management - usually the single most important factor
- Why you want it - only because a customer has demanded it? Or do you have some good internal reasons, such as wanting to improve?
- What's your current status? Do you already have a reasonable system in place now?
- Do you meet many of the Standard's requirements now? How many gaps do you have? Where are they and how big are the gaps? What do you need to do to fill them?
- Do you have any documented information for and of your system? Think about things that might include process maps, perhaps procedures, flowcharts, checklists, forms, policies or job descriptions? Then there is the information that shows your system works as you expect it to: think IT systems, databases, completed forms, even handwritten material. Is your stuff up to date? If not, what needs doing? You certainly do not have to 'document everything' (that's one of the persistent but false myths about ISO 9001) but you do need some information documented. What, how and where depends on what you do and what you need.
- Does your business include any designing/creating of services or goods? If so, how complex are your 'design' activities? (this can also affect what documentation you need)
- Do you have adequate resources available to do it? If not, what's your plan? If you do have resources, what skills, experience and time available do they have?
- When do you want certification by?
- What size are you? How complex is your business?
To come up with any kind of reasonable assessment of time and cost, a gap analysis is usually required. This is something a skilled consultant can do. Alternatively, you can do it yourself with the right tool; see my DIY SO 9001 gap analysis.
Seeing ISO 9001 certification purely in terms of cost is a somewhat skewed view. There are also real costs associated with poor quality, such as returns, rework, losing customers, missing out on tenders where certification is a pre-requisite. These costs are often hidden, so are often ignored or overlooked.
Not knowing or appreciating the great benefits available from getting 9001 certification.
Author: Jane Bennett