How long does AS9100 implementation take?
When starting on the implementation of AS9100 Rev D to create your aerospace Quality Management System (QMS), one of the first answers that top management wants to know is how long it will take. Unfortunately, there is not one simple answer to this question, because the implementation differs from company to company. However, there are a number of things to consider that will give you a good idea of the time it will take. To learn more about the implementation process, check out this article: 13 Implementation steps for AS9100 Rev D.
What is the total duration?
While the duration will vary, company size is often a good indicator of the total time it will take to implement AS9100 Rev D. Some overall rules of thumb would be:
- Small organizations (50 employees or less) could take 6 – 8 months.
- Medium organizations (50 – 500 employees) could take 8 – 12 months.
- Large organizations (more than 500 employees) could take 12 – 15 months.
These rough estimates only refer to the implementation, and do not take into account the time needed to operate the QMS before the certification auditors come to certify your system. The time needed is determined by your certification body (each certification body has a predetermined time frame that they expect), and is used to operate the QMS long enough to accumulate sufficient records to satisfactorily demonstrate how the system works during the audit. While the times are different between certification bodies, I have not heard of a request of less than six months before the certification audit.
How can you speed up the implementation?
As with any management system, the most critical item to have in place is the support of top management. When management is behind the implementation, roadblocks tend to be removed more easily and quickly so that time is not lost fighting for adequate resources. In addition, if you already have many of the required processes and procedures in place, you may find that the time to implement will be reduced. This may be due to industry requirements or already having another ISO management system in place, such as ISO 14001 or ISO 45001, because there are many common processes in all ISO management systems.
Here are a few things that can be done to help you calculate the time it will take to implement AS9100 Rev D:
Detailed gap analysis. The gap analysis is a key tool to determine what needs to be done during the implementation. Unless you have no processes in place at all, this is the best place to start when determining how much work and resources will be required for the implementation. The gap analysis compares what is already in place in your company against the requirements of AS9100 Rev D to determine what is missing. Once you know where the gaps are in your system, you can identify what needs to be added to close those gaps. For instance, if you are already a process-based company, you will find it easier to implement an AS9100 Rev D QMS.
For a simple, yet effective gap analysis tool, check out this online AS9100 Gap Analysis Tool.
Understand the overall implementation process. If you don’t know the path to the end point, it is difficult to determine how long it will take to get there. For this reason, it is helpful to understand what the overall implementation process is. If you don’t understand all the steps, surprises will keep popping up and making it impossible to budget for the project.
Treat the implementation as a project, with a project manager. To make sure you stay on schedule with the implementation, it is best to treat these activities as a project with a project manager. This way, you have one person overseeing what is happening so that resources can be re-assigned as needed. This means that you want to make sure you have the right project manager, because an experienced QMS project manager will help you implement much more quickly than someone who needs to learn as they go.
Do you need outside help? If you need to gather all the information yourself to gain the proper knowledge, it will take longer to reach the final implementation. You could hire a consultant, which can be expensive, or find templates for your procedures that can help you to document your required processes more quickly and easily. To help you decide if a consultant is right for you, see the white paper: Implementing AS9100 Rev D with a consultant vs. DIY approach.
Ensure that you take the time you need
It can be hard to sell to top management, but it is important to give yourself enough time so that you do not rush important steps in the implementation process. While there are many ways to help the implementation along, some things need to be done fully to ensure that you gain the benefits. For instance, it is not good enough that 90% of your workforce understands the processes and procedures that apply to them – everyone needs to understand this critical concept, and you need to take the time necessary to ensure it is done.
Remember, the reason you are implementing the AS9100 Rev D QMS is to empower your employees to improve the processes and improve customer satisfaction; so, you want to take the time needed to make sure this happens and that the QMS works for you to make your system better.
To see the steps you need to take during the implementation, check out this free download: AS9100 Rev D Implementation diagram.
About the author:
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.