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ISO 9001 best practice: preparing for an audit

Among all the standards under the International Organisation of Standardisation (ISO) umbrella, ISO 9001 is undoubtedly one of the best known. Relating to quality management systems (QMS), the standard has been certified to by more than a million companies in 189 countries, according to ISO.

In order to gain certification for ISO 9001, your business will need to undergo an ISO 9001 audit by a third-party organisation. This may sound like a lot of hassle and headaches, but thankfully, there are ways to streamline the process of preparing for an audit . . . particularly when utilising the Hicomply platform.

Here are our top tips for achieving ISO 9001 compliance.

Operate in an ISO 9001 audit-ready state

If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready. Audit preparation is minimal when your day-to-day business operations are undertaken with ISO 9001 in mind, adhering to frameworks and guidelines.

This includes reviewing processes and documentation, and keeping staff up to speed at all times. Team members should know exactly what they are responsible for, and how to ensure quality remains high within their roles and responsibilities. You may even undertake regular mock audits so that everyone knows the score by the time the real thing rolls around.

Our audit management software can take much of the hassle out of organising your documentation by housing all information in one place. Automated prompts for information and reminders of requirements can also help to prevent the kind of lapses that often occur when day-to-day work gets hectic.

Staying on top of documentation and data

One of the most taxing parts of quality management is document control. Or at least, it used to be in the days of paper and folders. Our audit management software comes with document management capabilities built-in, so all your data is organised, maintained and kept secure in one single location.

A survey by MasterControl found that almost a quarter (24%) of quality professionals struggle with audits and inspections. A significant part of this difficulty comes from compiling the documentation often requested in advance of an audit. This includes document management procedures, quality manuals, training procedures, security procedures, and other key business information.

Digitalising your documentation can streamline your quality systems, removing the pain from planning ahead.

Maintain a risk-based mindset

Risk management is an essential component of ISO 9001 certification, which is why risk should be a key consideration in audit preparation. Maintaining a risk mindset makes it easier to identify potential issues in your quality systems that might be flagged during an audit.

Even if eradicating the risk completely isn’t possible, scrutinising your organisation with risk in mind will encourage you to mitigate potential issues where you can, showing auditors that you’ve given them the consideration they require.

Don’t hesitate to take action

Every business owner hopes they pass their audit with flying colours, but while you can take every precaution to improve your chances of that, you should still consider what needs to be done if any issues are flagged.

When it comes to meeting standards, there is no time like the present. You can even start fixing problems before the audit ends, holding a closing meeting with the auditor to discuss their findings and what can be done to resolve them.

ISO 9001 compliance with Hicomply

Certification can feel like a mammoth task, but at Hicomply we make it simple and straightforward. Our one-stop solution for ISO 9001 and other vital accreditations means you can say goodbye to complex internal processes, accountability gaps, poor visibility and endless spreadsheets.

By combining the ISO 9001 QMS with our ISO 27001 ISMS, a growing number of our clients are enjoying the benefits of our comprehensive Information Managent System. With Hicomply, you can merge document minutes and reports from committee meetings and senior management reviews, as well as scoping documents. It’s even possible to get a combined audit, providing access to your Hicomply account to the relevant certification body.

From mitigating reports to scoping documents, our solution takes the headaches and hassle out of ISO 9001 certification, reducing the time, effort, and resources needed to maintain compliance. Get real-time updates of ISO 9001 requirements, tailored to your organisation’s needs, with a single, simple platform that clears the road to certification.

Not currently using Hicomply? Ready to find out more about what the platform can do for you? Book a demo.

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