Although there is a lot of praise for ISO 9001 and the benefits it brings to organisations, it would be wrong to suggest that everyone is full of praise for ISO 9001. There are a number of common complaints and criticisms that arise when discussing the system and it may be that these elements are enough to make you wary of investing in ISO 9001.
This isn’t a bad thing. It is important that firms aim to properly evaluate systems and investment opportunities before they take action and knowing the common criticisms of ISO 9001 can help businesses to make the best decision for their needs or make sure that they are properly equipped for potential problems and can work to get the best level of service from the system.
Some of the most common complaints include:
- The compliance process is time consuming
- The compliance process is costly
- There is a need to undertake a great deal of administrative work to implement ISO 9001
- While implementing ISO 9001 adds consistency, it can often limit improvisation and re-adapting
- Many firms sign up for ISO 9001 because it is a marketplace requirement or expectation as opposed to understanding it
- It relies on general principles too often
- It doesn’t minimise the impact of bad management
- That form is valued higher than actual results
- It benefits auditors more than a business
- Although applicable for many industries, it is deemed to be weighted in favour of manufacturing firms
- The cost
The last common complaint is one that is always going to be an issue for firms, but it can be viewed in conjunction with any of the other complaints. All businesses will be looking at the bottom line and while having ISO 9001 certification can provide a great number of benefits and new business in the long run, there is a need to think about the costs involved in obtaining and then maintaining the certification.
ISO 9001 needs to be implemented properly
A large part of the criticism aimed at the system comes with the amount of time taken to properly implement it. Many people believe that this is time that could be used more effectively in growing or supporting the business whereas firms will find that they are carrying out administrative and compliance work. This means either taking employees away from their standard tasks to ensure that this level of work is carried out or spending money on bringing in new staff or external staff to ensure that this work is being implemented.
Another major complaint comes with the fact that many people believe that there is a focus on the form of work, as opposed to actual results in the workplace. There is a suggestion that there is a level of management who are more than happy to manage by assessing data and figures rather than understanding the work that is taking place on the shop floor or in the office. While data and statistics are highly important, they rarely tell the full story and this is where businesses can miss out on many things. Impending problems or drops in staff morale are not always indicated by statistics but a good manager working closely with their employees will get a feel for the mood and workflow in a business. This is why it is important that businesses do not settle for relying on statistics and data to manage their business effectively, they still need to utilise managers engaging with employees and “managing their staff”.
It is unlikely that all of these complaints will apply to all businesses and it should be noted that the benefits can still outweigh these negatives. However, if a firm is armed with the potential drawbacks to the certification, they can work on ensuring that they overcome them effectively and efficiently, the help of a good, and well recommended consultant to help in this process can be very cost effective to the business.