Risks of ISO 9001 Kits
Any search for kits for ISO 9001 or 9001 templates will or should throw up a range of views and potential risks. And yes, there certainly are risks. Here are the top ones with my comments.
1. 9001 Kits don't actually comply with the Standard
Problem: While the templates in a kit may address all the requirements of the standard, the quality system itself won't necessarily comply, that is meet all requirements.
Yes, this is a genuine risk. A quality system is far more than just some templates or documents. While 9001 does require the system to be documented, documentation is only a part of the system (and often far less than you think).
Yet too often, people fall into the trap of thinking that there's something special about 'ISO 9001 documentation' or that getting some kind of magic set of '9001 templates' and customising them for their company is all there is to it. That just isn't true.
To get ISO 9001 you must have a functioning quality management system - something you use every day and something that works for you and for your business. Any management system is more than just a set of documents. (If you think otherwise, try waving around a recipe and perhaps a procedure - be they ever so good - in front of a bunch of hungry restaurant patrons and telling them that's all that's required. And see what they say). You need the people and the processes and practices and procedures in place, working together, to make things happen: a real, live system that's a 'happening thing' and not just a set of generic templates you do a bit of cutting and pasting into.
I emphasise that my Kit is not just a bunch of templates and documents. It's very deliberately called a DIY Kit because that's what it is. A Kit that you use to do this yourself. Beyond just templates, it gives you all the other information you'll need, explains clearly how to go about 'doing 9001', guides you through the process and supplies the resources you'll need. It has what you need: materials to help you understand what ISO 9001 is, what it means, and how to understand and interpret it for your business. The DIY Guide which explains the Standard and the process of doing ISO 9001 certification. It takes you through the project from start to finish. Support, in case you want to ask me questions or check that you're on the right track. Templates, yes, where they are useful and make things quick and easy. Also finished examples: what a set of documents that meet ISO 9001 requirements might look like. I emphasise 'might' because the Kit isn't a 'one size fits all' or a 'do it my way or the highway' approach.
has to be your quality system and work for you and in your context. How to achieve that is fundamental to my approach and embedded into the DIY Kit. And if you take what's in there and follow my advice, your system will meet the requirements of the Standard.
2. 9001 Template Kits are Too Generic
Problem: Documents written once and which you're told can be used in any type of organization just can't be specific enough to work for every company or demonstrate to an auditor how your company does business. The very worst types of these are the cut-and-paste type templates ('just add water') which simply prompt you to replace every instance of 'Your Company Name' with yours. And their procedures are so generic that they are of little help.
Another genuine risk. There's an absolute heap of them out there, but they really, really don't work! I know because I've looked at many. And shuddered at what is out there.
For a start, they don't begin to distinguish between a company that makes stuff (a manufacturer) or does stuff (a service provider) let alone a nonprofit charity, government organisation or other. They just pretend that all you need are to have these 25 or 33 or 45 (or whatever number) procedures and the 35 or 24 or 52 (or whatever) forms, into which you insert your business name. It is just possible they may get you through a stage 1 document review (the first part of the external audit process) but will invariably fail at the Stage 2 audit (for certification). And you'll then find you've spent a bunch of money and time that's been completely wasted.
Please don't fall into the trap - they don't and can't work.
3. Using a Kit Needs Resources
Problem: If you use a Kit, you need internal resources to do the work and write some documents. If they don't understand ISO 9001, they may get it wrong. Or you may not have considered the cost of using internal
It's true that you will need resources. That's one of the biggest reasons a Kit is cheaper than a consultant, because you use your time rather than paying for consultants. It's also true that doing 9001 means you need some understanding of what you are doing and why (would you apply for a driving test without ever reading the road rules?). That's why my DIY Kit includes them: learning and training resources to help you understand what the Standard says and wants, so you can interpret it for your company in a real, practical and effective way. And that learning will continue to benefit your company now and in future.
The DIY Kit is much cheaper than employing a consultant , but yes of course you will need some internal resources to make it happen. (You'd still have to put time in, even with a consultant.) On the other hand, many customers have said how valuable it was to do it themselves, because it really helped them get involved and understand it. What they were doing and why, and how to make it work and improve their business.
I'm not selling a Kit in some kind of attempt to sell consulting services - I'm quite busy enough as it is and more than that, I want every customer to succeed, not just to make a sale!
Most customers find there is everything they need in the Kit. But I stand firmly behind it with the support it includes, to give you the best chance of success in case you need it. If there's a need for some consulting help (it happens occasionally), we can usually arrange that too. No matter where you are - I have a wide network.
4. Template Kits Force Their System Onto You
Problem: The template kit approach requires you use all or most of their forms and documents, which usually cross-reference each other.
A definite risk, and true for just about every other kit on the market. Because they operate on the Do it OUR Way 'one-size-system-fits-any-business' model, which not only is untrue, but is incredibly painful to try and work with.
You see, they are structured to exactly match each clause and even sub-clause of the Standard. So you get procedures and forms for every clause and sub-clause, and usually far too many of them at that. And they won't sound like anything you might be doing right now, because they're steeped in special 'ISO speak' from all those clauses and sub-clauses. Many even add the relevant clause or sub-clause number to the title as well! Yet you not only don't need to use all the ISO clause numbers and sub-numbers, but it's a mistake to do so. You should do what the Standard itself recommends: use a process approach (which I explain to you in the Kit). Also, apply common sense. And have documents written in plain English, so people can read and use them. And use a common-sense format and structure: one that makes sense to you. There's no need to impose those hideously ugly so-called 'quality' formats on people.
An example to illustrate
Generic kit clause-by-clause approach
DIY ISO 9001 Kit approach
5.3 Organizational Roles, Responsibilities and Authorities Policy
Redundant - you don't need to have a policy on this topic (unless you want one).
Because of all those other simply awful template kits, I resisted creating one. I could see the need for smaller organisations, those with very limited budgets, and those in remoter areas, but I didn't want to do anything unless it was ethical and didn't force that single 'one size fits all' system onto everyone.
Finally I had one of those ah-hah! moments and realised how: as a complete do it yourself 9001 package, rather than just a set of cut-n-paste templates. Full instructions and explanations in the Guide and my DIY website. With lots of helpful examples for different types of companies and systems. And a small, select and practical range of templates. Supported by regular e-newsletters to help keep them on track, and the ability to ask individual questions and get a quick reply.
Yes, there are examples of templates and forms for those who do not already have things in place. But throughout my Kit, I strongly urge you to use what you already have in place, and to build on that. (Why replace something if it's already working?) So you only put something new in place if you need it, and if it works for you and if it is better than what you already have.
5. Kits create too many documents
Problem: For many reasons (including the generic approach, the 'one size fits all', focus on clauses and sub-clauses and often confuse sheer quantity with quality and effectiveness), you may end up with far too may documents and more than you need.
Definitely a risk. One competing product has "quality manual, quality procedures plus 36 additional procedures & work instructions, quality policy, quality objectives, process flowchart)... a collection of 33 forms & checklists". Does every company really need 36 procedures & work instructions in addition to the 'quality procedures'! plus 33 forms & checklists? Nope. Some will need more, some less.
And I've explained as well as demonstrated how to avoid having too many documents. Few things are worse than a mountain of documents no one wants to wade through.
6. Getting a poor Kit
Problem: Because there are so many kits out there, how do you know a good one?
True, this is a big risk - in fact, I think it's The Biggest Risk of all. Though naturally, one you'll avoid with my Kit. Plus there's the money back guarantee to take away the risk for you.
Problem: But you're in Melbourne, Australia, whereas we're in (wherever you are located). So how do we know who you are?
Is that really a risk, given how 'flat' our world now is? With the technology available to us, physical location is just about irrelevant these days. I communicate in many ways: via my two websites, phone (land, mobile and Skype), email, webinars, not just in person.
Different countries or time zones aren't an insurmountable problem: there's always some solution that will work. Yes, sending a Kit internationally means it takes a few days to arrive, but in the meantime as a customer you'll get immediate access to the customer website with everything you need for download, so you can get started right away.
Some firms selling kits hide behind anonymous websites, or even create a spurious network of websites offering a completely made up 'star rating system'. (I wish I was kidding about that). Not me. I'm a real live person. I stand behind each and every Kit that I sell. If you want to know more about me, you can check my profile on LinkedIn; I write in some of the forums there. As well, many of my DIY Kit customers and consulting clients have been kind enough to speak about their experience.
I hope the information on my site will help you choose carefully, and avoid a poor one.
If you have more questions, please ask.
Author: Jane Bennett