Obtaining ISO certification is not an easy task: First, a business must evaluate its weaknesses, then formulate an action plan detailing the necessary improvements. Next, a 50-page document (called a quality system manual) is produced, specifying the company's philosophy and policies pertaining to ISO standards. Step-by-step procedures on complying with the standard, drafted for all your company's internal departments, must also be compiled, along with several months of documented evidence proving the systems are working. The last step? Bringing in an official registrar who assesses the system, then decides if certification is deserved. The entire process can take up to 18 months.
Despite the enormity of the job, in 1994 entrepreneur Chuck Irvine applied for ISO 9002 certification. "We felt it was necessary to be the first in our industry, to lead the way with our customers and suppliers," says Irvine, chair and founder of Des Moines, Iowa-based Prime Alliance Inc., an international distributor of thermoplastic resins.
Since establishing the quality management system, Prime Alliance has significantly heightened its productivity and efficiency, while consistently minimizing customer complaints. Irvine says he's even formed better relationships with clients and energized his work force along the way. Says Irvine, "I would absolutely recommend it to any business."
AIC Quality Services Inc., (281) 497-7878, ext. 2, http://www.aicservices.com
Prime Alliance Inc., 1803 Hull Ave., Des Moines, IA 50313, (800) 247-8038