What is continual improvement in ISO 9001?

Unlock the secrets to ISO 9001’s continual improvement (CI) process. Learn how CI ensures ongoing enhancements in activities and procedures. Ready to boost your organisation’s performance and customer satisfaction? Dive in to see how CI can transform your quality management system and drive your business forward.
What is continual improvement in ISO 9001?

Continual improvement (CI) is a key requirement of the ISO 9001 standard. It’s part of quality management and requires companies to constantly look for ways to improve how things are done by making changes in their activities and procedures.

In this article, we’ll discuss what continual improvement is and why it’s so important. We’ll also look at some of the most widely used methods and tools for CI.


Continual improvement (CI): Definition

Continual improvement (CI) is based on the idea that small, ongoing, and well-calculated changes can lead to major improvements over time.

In ISO 9001, CI refers to the company’s effort to constantly improve its quality management system to meet the standard’s requirements. It’s a continuous process that involves planning, implementing, monitoring, and correcting any problems that may occur.


Methods of continuous improvement

The Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle is one of the most widely used tools for CI. This technique is designed to continuously evaluate a company’s management practices and willingness to embrace and disregard unsupported ideas.

Here’s a general overview of this four-step quality assurance method:

  • Plan: Develop a specific plan for improving the quality management system tailored to the company’s needs.
  • Do: Implement the plan and begin making changes to processes and procedures.
  • Check: Monitor the results of these changes to determine their success.
  • Act: If the changes are successful, implement them permanently. If not, return to the “Do” phase and try again.

Other widely used methods of CI include Total Quality Management (TQM), Six Sigma, and Lean.


The importance of continual improvement in ISO standards

There are many reasons why CI is crucial, but here are the most significant:

  • Meeting ISO requirements: The ISO standard is constantly evolving, and companies need to continually improve their quality management systems to keep up.
  • Facilitating growth and innovation: Continuous process improvement can foster growth and innovation.
  • Improving efficiency: CI reduces defects and streamlines processes, enhancing efficiency.
  • Boosting customer satisfaction: Listening to customers and improving processes can lead to higher customer satisfaction.
  • Enhancing employee morale: Employees who can provide feedback and see their suggestions implemented tend to have higher job satisfaction and retention rates.


What makes a CI program successful?

For a CI program to succeed, several key factors must be in place:

  • Right tools and resources: Organisations need proper tools, such as training manuals, software, templates, and guidelines.
  • Strong leadership: Effective leadership is essential to support and drive the CI program.
  • Well-defined plan: A clear plan outlining goals, objectives, and methods for achieving them is crucial.

How Citation Certification can help

Want to create a CI strategy but don’t know where to start? The experts at Citation Certification can help you develop a successful CI plan, identify improvement opportunities, and implement projects in line with the ISO framework and your business needs. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you achieve continual improvement.

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