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How to get Management Buy-in for ISO 9001

Can you achieve ISO registration without management buy-in? Are you one of the quality professionals asking yourself this question as you look into implementing ISO 9001 in your organization? While it may be possible to do this with minimal management support (you will need some sort of management review, for instance), maintaining the quality management system without ongoing support from management will be difficult – if not impossible. Some say that attaining ISO 9001 registration is easy compared to maintaining the registration. This is true, because you need to demonstrate ongoing support for the system, especially through continual improvement. Without ongoing management support this is extremely difficult.

How do you gain management support?

As is often said, management speaks in dollars, but as I said in Six Key Benefits of ISO 9001 Implementation it is more difficult to put the benefits of implementing ISO 9001 in terms of money. Although it might be impossible to assign a completely accurate monetary value to these benefits, here are some ideas that might help you estimate value and better gain management support:

Improvement of your credibility and image. Do you have a customer or potential customer that includes ISO 9001 registration as part of their supplier requirements? If so, can you estimate the value of lost business that you might have captured as additional work from current customers, or new work from expanding your customer base? The immediate lost business may be some indication of what you are missing out on by not having an accredited management system in place.

Improvement of customer satisfaction. Start with your level of customer complaints. Is it possible to identify lost business from customers due to poor customer satisfaction based on these complaints? Can you find any indication of where you could grow your business with your current customers, but are limited in your ability due to the current level of satisfaction, such as other products or services that you supply but your customers purchase elsewhere?

Better process integration. Can you identify any obvious areas in your company where your processes are not integrated well, such as complaints of poor delivery from one process to another? If so, you may be able to place a value on correcting this, and extrapolate these savings to other integration problems that might not be as obvious, but could be discovered by implementing an ISO 9001 quality management system. Another place to look for process integration problems is in records or reports that are created by one process, but are not used elsewhere in the overall system. If the data is not being used, is it actually necessary to collect?

Improve your evidence for decision making. Do you have examples in your company where decisions were problematic or could have been improved if better data had been available at the decision-making process?  For example, did a change take much longer than anticipated, causing a cost over-run or lost production? Do you have examples of process changes (such as extra equipment purchased) that seemed like a good idea at the time, but ended up not working? These are prime examples supporting better evidence for decision making, and implementing a quality management system to facilitate the evidence gathering.

Create a continual improvement culture. Building on your improvement examples from process integration, are there other obvious improvements that could be made within processes to improve them? The estimated cost savings from these improvements could obviously be gained even without implementing a quality management system, but what other improvements are hiding that could be seen by the continual improvement culture created with an ISO 9001 quality management system?

Engagement of employees. This may be hard to value, but if you have a large employee turnover rate due to lack of employee engagement, there may be potential savings identified by finding a way to keep employees and save on training of new employees. Implementing a quality management system may be a way to make employees more empowered and eager to be engaged.

Prepare for your presentation

After gathering your information, the important thing is being prepared for your presentation to management. Knowing and understanding the benefits for your company will make this presentation easier and allow you to help your senior management understand why they want to implement a quality management system based on ISO 9001. Like any other initiative of this kind, the goal is to provide an advantage for your company, not to be a burden on resources.

For help on preparing your presentation, check out this free download:  Project Proposal for ISO 9001 Implementation.

Advisera Mark Hammar
Mark Hammar
Mark Hammar is a Certified Manager of Quality / Organizational Excellence through the American Society for Quality and has been a Quality Professional since 1994. Mark has experience in auditing, improving processes, and writing procedures for Quality, Environmental, and Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems, and is certified as a Lead Auditor for ISO 9001, AS9100, and ISO 14001.