How to make your investment in ISO 9001 profitable

Implementing a Quality Management System (QMS) using the requirements of the ISO 9001:2015 standard is an internationally recognized way to focus your company efforts on customer satisfaction and drive improvements in your company, but this process does not come without a cost. For this reason, many business professionals ask what the return on investment of implementing a QMS is. In other words – how do I make it profitable?

If yours is a company that is looking to implement a QMS and find a way to make it profitable, there are many requirements within the ISO 9001:2015 standard that will help you to do this if you work to implement and use them properly. Below are some of the main requirements that can present you with some of the most profitable ways to use your QMS.

Making plans to address risks and opportunities

An addition to the new ISO 9001:2015 requirements is to understand and take action to address the risks and opportunities for your QMS. This can be done however you want, and many companies will perform a SWOT analysis as a way to identify business strengths and weaknesses, but the important factor in realizing profit is deciding what actions you will take.

By identifying the risks and opportunities that are applicable to your company, and deciding what actions you will take, if any, to address these, you will be able to find ways to limit the negative impacts of potential problems and also capitalize on the opportunities that can lead you into new sales markets or product lines. Properly acting on risks and opportunities can realize great profit for your company.

To find out more about this process, look into this article on How to address risks and opportunities in ISO 9001.

Using quality objectives to drive improvements

The use of quality objectives to drive improvement is not new to the ISO 9001:2015 requirements. These objectives, which are one of the best ways to focus the improvement activities within your company, have been included in the QMS since the ISO 9001 update that happened in the year 2000. These objectives are your way of identifying what aspects of quality management and customer satisfaction you have chosen as your main improvement aims, with reasonable and timely targets, so that you can make plans to make these improvements and move your company strategy forward.

For more on quality objectives and how they work with the strategic direction of your company, see this article on Aligning quality objectives of the QMS with the strategic direction of the company.

Find opportunities for improvement through internal audit

Unfortunately, many business leaders see the internal audit program as a waste of resources that simply takes up the time of employees who would be better spent doing their jobs. This is far from the truth if the internal audit program is used properly. The idea of your internal audits is to have an objective and impartial person look at the outputs of the processes to ensure that these processes are meeting the planned arrangements that were set out for the process. The audits also provide information on the effective implementation and maintenance of the QMS.

By taking the opportunity to take an impartial look at a process, your internal auditors can not only identify problems that could go unnoticed during day-to-day activities, but also identify issues with the linkages between processes that can cause inefficiency and identify opportunities to improve the overall effectiveness of the QMS. Identifying improvement opportunities makes your company better and can lead to cost savings and better profitability.

Read the article What is the ISO 9001 audit program, and how does it work? to learn more about the audit program.

Driving corrective actions to work for you

One of the most overlooked areas of the QMS for increasing profitability is the corrective action process. Some business leaders see this process as unnecessarily complicated and time consuming, but this is often because it is excessively used on small problems that do not need a full root cause analysis and complex correction procedure. It is worth a second look at how you can make your corrective action system work to help you find improvements.

If you could take your biggest problems, wisely have your resources identify the root cause of those problems, and then find a way to make sure the problem does not happen again – think about the cost savings you could realize. By making sure that your corrective action process is focused on finding real solutions to the problems that cost you money, and effectively addressing those problems so that they do not happen again, you can find the cost savings and profitability you want from your QMS.

Learn more about the corrective action process and how it can work for you with this article: How to proceed once a QMS corrective action is defined?

The secret is using your QMS for you

You need to remember that this is your Quality Management System, designed to improve your processes and improve the satisfaction of your customers. It is up to you to identify the strategic direction of your company and align the QMS to work toward meeting the goals that you need to achieve to move your company forward. Your certification body auditors are there to identify problems, and they may identify some opportunities for improvement, but the QMS is not there to satisfy them. It needs to work for you.

If you are looking for more guidance on how to make your QMS more profitable, there is a guidance standard: ISO 10014 – Quality management — Guidelines for realizing financial and economic benefits, which is available to help you with improving the return on investment for your ISO 9001 implementation.

So, when you are addressing the requirements of ISO 9001:2015, think about each element of your Quality Management System as you implement each process and determine how you can use this process to become more profitable. You will quickly find that if you implement the QMS with business profitability in mind, there are many more elements of the interrelated processes that work toward better profitability besides the four main processes – you just need to find and capitalize on them.

To learn more about the business benefits of ISO 9001, read this free white paper: How can 9001 help your business grow.

To learn what ISO 9001 is, and why it is important, see this straightforward overview: What is ISO 9001?

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.