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ISO 9001

We had planned to undertake ISO 9001 to help us differentiate ourselves in a highly competitive market place. With 5 staff it's essential we remain competitive which is difficult enough in the current climate.

Our local authority was offering 75% grants towards the cost of obtaining ISO 9001 but our application was refused as they thought our business wouldn't be affected without it, whereas it was pretty critical we achieve this standard as tenders are increasingly asking for it.

Swear words!


Get on the phone, or go in person, with details of tenders you have/will fail because of this certification. Any tender must provide it's marking criteria, and it's cast iron proof it will (or will not, if you're wrong) put you at a disadvantage.

I would advise specifically looking for tenders issued by your local authority requiring it as evidence. Use FOI if required. Happy to do this on your behalf if you wish to remain anonymous.

Thanks Nick. I've already written back stating our case but your suggestions have a lot of merit and I'll follow them up.

What Nick said! get on the 'phone

Remember, you pay for this authority, and as part of the deal, they have to be accountable in how they make decisions, and be able to defend them. It may be there are too many applicants, and not enough funding, and it's hard luck. But at least try again.

Tenders are a very mechanical thing, and a pain, but the mechanics are there, and must be visible and therefore quantifyable.

I've just had an email which says

We are aware that tendering bodies are
increasingly using ISO accreditation as part of their decision making
process but understand from our enquiries that this has more relevance in
some particular sectors. So that the Grant Panel can consider the matter
further, I would be pleased if you could provide some specific examples of
where you have failed to secure contracts due to the lack of ISO9001 and /
or ISO14001 accrediation.

So it seems it's sector biased leaving others at a disadvantage.

That's fine, and true.

So, we need to find tenders where ISO9001 is part of the scoring process.

What is it you do?

We design, build, and host web sites.

I'll be going through all the tenders posted on Sell To Wales to gauge what the marking/requirements criteria are but I'm resigned to not spending inordinate amounts of time fighting bureaucratic decisions.

Reasoned argument prevails, it's going to be re-submitted to the grant panel at the next session along with additional evidence.

Well done you. Good luck.

Jolly good. Tenacity pays off!

Well done! Fingers crossed.
Mistress Rose

I would suggest if you go for ISO9001 you do as much of it as possible. I used to work in the electronics industry and at that time ISO 9000 seemed to cover most of what is now covered by 9000, 9001 and 9004. Any number of companies got a consultant in to do it and ended up with a system that didn't fit and nobody understood.

The company I worked for did it all ourselves and passed first time with a few minor points raised, and when I went off long term sick, the system still worked although I had been doing most of it for some time before.

Best of luck with the grant.

We attained our ISO 9001 accreditation. Very Happy

It was a worthwhile experience not least to get a documented quality management system in place.

Well done!


Great, very pleased. Aside from the practical benefit, it'll tick one moe box, and add one more point on tender responses.

Anyone know of a job going simply to reply to tenders?

While it might be necessary because tenders ask for it that doesn't actually make it any use. We went through this process some time ago and discovered that it's quite easy to get ISO900n certification. You just need to have a documented process and follow it. This of course has nothing to do with whether the process is right or even right for your business. Your process for handling complaints could consist of a document stating that your company employs hit men to deal with repeat complaint customers and, as long as you actually do that, you would be ISO900n compliant.

<end cynic mode>

Agree absolutely. However, to access public funds, tenders are a way of life, and most are oversubscribed, and a tick box exercise to get rid of submissions takes place, rightly or wrongly. And ISO 9001 is one of those boxes.

Anyone know of a job going simply to reply to tenders?

I'd be happy to off load that task. I really don't have the writing skills or the words to make the most of the opportunities that arise. Reading back through some of them make me cringe.
oldish chris

Way back in around 1985, when ISO 9000 was more commonly called BS5750, I was involved in introducing it into a government IT dept. In our case the main motivation was to increase productivity. We approximately doubled it.

The factor that had the biggest impact on quality was "Fagan Inspections", I was taught by IBM.

The question is Vegplot, has ISO 9000 had any impact on your company, other than a little certificate? (Just curious)

ISO 9001 is a very different beast that it used to be. It's much more about the culture of quality, process, and improvement rather than the document everything you do approach. I was heavily involved with ISO 9001 back in the early 90's and it was a nightmare by comparison.

It's made a big difference to the way we work helping us maintain consistently high standards and reducing admin are but two of the benefits.

As for direct economic benefit it's too early to tell.

As someone who sits on the other side off the desk (I work in purchasing and supply chain management) I can tell you that people do look favourably on the ISO9001 and 14001 qualifications and, if they're any good at what they do, it is more than a tick box exercise.

Much as people in purchasing understand that it is possible that have a well run company without these certificates, or a badly run one with them, without some sort of external verification we'd need to employ a small army of supplier inspectors to run tenders, which, of course, isn't possible.

I hope that gives you some reassurance that your time has been well spend and having ISO9001 should open doors for you as you hope.

Vegplot, does ISO9001 have any interest at all in your H&S policy?

(Urgent response appreciated, I'm ticking boxes on a Sunday afternoon.)

ETA. Ignore this, I found what I needed, ticked the boxes, and am pub bound. Smile

Sorry, just seen this. To answer your question anyway - no, not as far as I'm aware but I would need to check documentation to verify.
Mistress Rose

Some years ago, when I was in the microelectronics industry, we did ISO9000 or the BS equivalent. At that stage a lot of companies were getting people in to sort it out for them, and most ended up with a system that they didn't understand and didn't really work for them, but ticked the boxes. As we did it ourselves, we understood what we were doing, and ended up with a system that worked, and was capable of expansion. I am glad to say that the proof was that when I, who was in charge of it at that stage, went off long term sick, the system continued to work.
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