Certification – The certificate: Starting point or Finish?

181012Peter Trimming - Bluebell Railway
Photo: Peter Trimming – “Bluebell Railway” by Flickr

A quality certificate is a must if there is a wish to be considered as a serious business partner. It’s one of the first questions when a company presents itself to a new customer or enters a new market.

No exchange is possible without certificate. This aspect is forgotten in 97-100 % of the time (in already certified companies).

This way of reasoning implicates that one focusses on maintaining the certificate. There is nothing wrong with this. But is the certificate the starting point or an objective of the quality policy? In most of the companies the starting point equals the finish.

What does that mean? That means that we are pleased with a score which is just high enough to obtain the diploma (between 60-75 %). Then the score will stay at this level.

What are the consequences of such a strategy?

  • Moderated audit results, repetitive non-conformities or ones of a new categorie
  • Employees who don’t know their objectives
  • A weak personnel engagement
  • Many customer complaints
  • Unsuccessful systems

Quality management systems are organization-oriented. If the elements are fully implemented and alive, we are talking about an organization with a score of 100 %. It will not be surprising to to note in such an organization that:

  • Audits are conducted in a more flexible way. The found nonconformities are the finishing touch instead of gaps in the system
  • There is a great desire for continuous improvement
  • Customer complaints are a rarity
  • Errors are minimal which leads to a better cost control
  • The customers are highly satisfied

How can we come to such an organization?

  • The customer needs to be the centre of all the actions (and that needs to be seriously tested)
  • All the customer requirements must be taken into consideration and be converted into actions that are taken and evaluated
  • All the elements of a quality management system are entirely implemented
  • The quality management system isn’t a secondary tool to obtain the certificate, but a way of working with two objectives: a 100 % satisfied customer and a smooth organisation

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