In late June, we received the official certificate that lets the world know that we’re ISO 9001:2008 certified.
What does this all mean?
First off, the International Organization for Standards, a.k.a., ISO (even though that’s not the acronym for the organization in English, German, or French…):
…is the world’s largest developer of voluntary International Standards.
International Standards make things work. They give world-class specifications for products, services and good practice, to ensure quality, safety and efficiency. And because they are developed through global consensus, they help to break down barriers to international trade. (Source: ISO)
The standards that we chose to adopt are those set down in ISO 9001:2008, which establishes the criteria for an organization’s quality management system. To follow ISO 9001:2008 standards, you need to put into practice eight principles (shown below with our short hand definitions):
- Customer focus (all about meeting your customers’ needs – and exceeding their expectations)
- Leadership (i.e., the organization’s leaders set and communicate clear objectives)
- Involvement of people (employees at all levels are involved in making the organization succeed)
- Process approach (a systematic – and measurable – way to get things done)
- System approach to management (making sure that systems are in place, and integrated)
- Continual improvement (always looking for ways to better the organization)
- Factual approach to decision making (making sure that your information is correct, and acting on it)
- Mutually beneficial supplier relationships (working with the bes t- and making sure the relationships are built to last)
Critical Link has always been a quality-focused organization, but we decided to formalize our approach, and adopt the ISO standards, for a number of reasons.
One, we really do believe in continual improvement, and adhering to the ISO standards makes us more improvement-conscious.
Two, these are international standards, and, as our customer base becomes more global, and our customers’ products more international, we felt that adopting an internationally established and recognized approach to quality was important.
Our quality focus, is, of course, the most important driver here. The applications that our customers bring to market perform essential and complex tasks, and must be built to last. They take care of extremely critical, often life-and-death, functions in industrial settings like transportation, defense, medical, security, scientific, and manufacturing. They’re not throwaway apps that get tossed when the next best thing comes along.
Another thing that appealed to us is the focus on process, systems, and fact-based decision-making. I don’t know how other professions approach these things, but for engineers, it’s heaven!
It’s not enough to just follow the rules and declare yourself certified.
You need to get an objective, third party organization to conduct an audit and assert that you are, in fact, following the ISO standards.
For our certification, we chose SRI to conduct the audit.
So, as of late June, it’s official: Critical Link is ISO 9001:2008 certified, one of the few SOM manufacturers who have earned this achievement.
To say that I am immensely proud of the Critical Link team would be an understatement.