I became enrolled in the world of ISO standard 10 years ago, this was because at the time I was involved in providing project management consultancy. I was asked to by a business to attain them ISO9001 certification to enable them to move in to international sales more easily.

I had knowledge of quality management from my blue-chip career in the late 80’s early 90’s but need an update. Like most people who embark on the process of gaining certification I was led by the Internet, the searches returned endless sites that gave very little information and were being used to harvest my business information so that I could be called by sales agents.

Eventually I made the call, the company I contacted was advertising ISO 9001 implementation & certification through a very professional looking website. I spoke to a very pleasant yet slightly overenthusiastic call centre agent. The call followed a path that informed me that certification was possible inside four weeks and that they would send a consultant to conduct a Gap analysis,  following this they would provide all the “Bespoke Documentation” required.

So, nothing wrong with that you may think, well neither did I, so the payment was made, and the Gap Analysis booked.

Consider a business occupying an area the size of many football pitches and containing enough people to make up the many teams required to play on them. Couple this with a highly technical product range and sales process, multiple regulatory compliance needs and over 30 distinct processes. Firstly I was disappointed with the 45 minutes the consultant spent on site conducting the Gap Analysis. Secondly the vast array of  overly wordy documentation I received was only bespoke by virtue of the fact that the company logo now occupied the top left corner of each of each document.

The garbage supplied was neither understandable or useful!

My action plan changed, I ordered a copy of the ISO9001 standard having a background in highly regulated business sectors I read the standard through. I didn’t grasp it the first time, so I read it again…. and again. The final result being that I dispensed with 90% of the garbage documentation supplied. It was quite clear that the requirements of the standard were already being met elsewhere without the need for additional “Documentation”. Ultimately the Certification audit was booked, and we attained certification without issue.

The moral of this tale is simple:

  • If documentation is not created by you it is not bespoke!
  • Other peoples ideas and words are not yours to use!
  • Templates are only a start point and if they are garbage at the start they will remain garbage!
  • If you don’t understand the meaning of overly wordy documents how can you expect others to do so?

Create your own documentation, keep it simple, control it well and gain benefit from its use!