Five tips to ensure your ISO 9001:2015 implementation is successful

An ISO 9001:2015 implementation can be a complex and demanding process, which may take from 6 to 12 months depending on your organizational size and structure and other influencing factors. Most project managers will find many challenges during the implementation phase, which we looked at in the article What are the biggest challenges while setting up an ISO 9001-based QMS, and how do you overcome them?, but for the new project manager implementing an ISO 9001-based system there surely must be some handy tips to help focus on the critical parts of the implementation.

Ensuring a smooth implementation

Experience is invaluable in any walk of life, and ISO 9001:2015 implementation is no exception to that. So, what advice can an experienced ISO 9001:2015 project manager give to one implementing for the first time, in order to ensure that they have the greatest chance of delivering a project effectively and on time? Let’s look more closely:

  1. Effective Planning: This seems obvious, but lack of planning is the downfall of many ISO 9001:2015 implementation projects. Ensure that your milestones are realistic, your timescales are achievable, and that you have the resources and knowledge, whether internal or external, to achieve a smooth implementation. If you are unsure whether your timescales are achievable or not, don’t hesitate to consult more experienced parties, whether in person or by using an online community. Good planning is the foundation of any successful ISO 9001:2015 implementation project. Like any project, your implementation will have risks and opportunities – assess and action them intelligently and your project will benefit.
  2. Leadership: This is another critical element, especially in light of the recent ISO 9001:2015 requirements. We looked at this more specifically in How to comply with new leadership requirements in ISO 9001:2015, and it is absolutely critical that you have 100% management commitment in terms of your ISO 9001:2015 implementation. Ensuring that the organizational leaders are committed to the QMS (Quality Management System) and its outcomes and objectives can help greatly to smooth the implementation for the project manager, and often his project team, especially when dealing with a complex organization or a very large number of employees.
  3. Employee Support: Whether you view this project as a transfer of knowledge, training, or consultation (there should be elements of all these things included here), it is vital that you have a plan to get the support of the key employees and stakeholders for an implementation project. Ensure that you consult people on key changes, seek opinions and advice, and provide clear communication to the people affected by the changes that your project outcome will bring. Like a politician, using diplomacy to ensure you receive full support for the changes that you are overseeing can make your implementation much more painless than if you fail to consider this element properly.
  4. Communication: This is closely related to the previous point, but during such a time of change it is critical that your communication is accurate, concise, time sensitive, and delivered by the correct person to give it maximum impact. The correct person may sometimes be the project manager, and sometimes organizational leaders. This means that the employees’ perception of the importance of the project will be accurate.
  5. Performance Evaluation: This is a critical method of measuring and improving your QMS. Don’t wait until everything is in place to begin measuring yourself; begin as soon as is practical. Whether measuring against KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) or using your internal audit function, this is an effective method of measuring progress and performance against objectives, including your own implementation milestones, and it should be used frequently to help your organization to perform and improve itself.

These five tips can help ensure your implementation if you concentrate on them, but is there anything else that can be useful to know?

Additional tips for a smooth implementation

The tips above can undoubtedly help you focus on the correct elements to ensure that your implementation goes smoothly, but a project manager will need to supplement these with good skills of the people who will play a large part in the project. Explaining the ethos behind ISO 9001:2015 is important, and if you can get your belief across then you can go a long way towards gaining the trust, belief, and support of the employees and stakeholders. When you can achieve this, you can use the elements of planning, leadership support, employee support, communication, and performance evaluation to bind your project delivery together and keep it on track.

ISO 9001:2015 is about delivering satisfaction to customers, and happy customers usually make for a settled and happy workforce. This vision, along with the tips above, can help guide you through your implementation project.

Download this free Checklist of Mandatory Documentation Required by ISO 9001:2015 to learn about the structure of documents needed for QMS implementation.

Advisera John Nolan
John Nolan
John Nolan is a Fellow of the Institute of Leaders and Managers in the United Kingdom, and Prince 2 accredited with a background in Engineering and Electronics and Data Storage and Transfer. Having studied and qualified as both a Mechanical and Electronic Engineer, he has spent the last 15 years designing and delivering Quality Systems and projects across many sectors in the UK, including both national and local government.