Implementing an effective quality management system is crucial for the construction industry. Every successful company in the sector requires consistent processes, services that meet required standards, and satisfied clients. The ISO 9001 standard stands as a widely acknowledged instrument for achieving these goals.
In this article, we will explore the necessary steps to obtain ISO 9001 certification in the construction sector. We will explain what this standard entails and the relevant changes made in 2015 to enable construction companies to implement a quality management system. We will address specific aspects related to process identification, required documentation, and the audit and certification process.
With this guide, construction professionals will be better equipped to embark on the journey toward ISO 9001 certification, strengthening their reputation, optimizing their processes, and demonstrating their commitment to quality.
The ISO 9001 Standard and its changes in the 2015 Update
The ISO 9001 standard is an international quality management standard that outlines requirements for implementing an effective quality management system.¡ It involves establishing robust processes to ensure quality at all stages of construction projects, from planning to final delivery. The goal is to enhance efficiency, reduce errors, increase customer satisfaction, and strengthen competitiveness in the market.
In 2015, the ISO 9001 standard underwent significant changes to adapt to new business realities and challenges. These changes included:
- The adoption of a process-based approach: emphasizing understanding and managing interrelated processes within an organization.
- Risk-based planning: involving proactive identification and addressing of risks associated with construction projects.
- Focus on continuous improvement and performance evaluation: promoting a culture of learning and development.
Steps to Implement a Quality Management Plan
Identify processes and activities to be controlled
Identifying processes and activities that need to be controlled involves a thorough analysis of all project stages, from planning to final delivery. The goal here is to determine which key processes directly impact quality.
For instance, during building processes, you can pinpoint activities like supplier selection and rating, supply chain management, and testing and inspections. Document control is another critical process for ensuring project quality.
Documentation of Procedures and Processes
Once key processes and activities are identified, corresponding procedures must be thoroughly documented. Documentation provides clear and consistent guidance for performing tasks and activities at each project stage.
Developing such documents is essential for ISO 9001 certification. This includes creating manuals, work instructions, forms, and other necessary documents to describe how different activities should be carried out. In the construction industry context, detailed procedures can be developed for:
- Managing design changes
- Scheduling and executing inspections
- Quality control of construction materials used
- Monitoring worker performance
Accurate and accessible documentation is essential to ensure that all team members are aware of quality requirements and standards and that they are consistently followed throughout the project.
Defining Key Performance Indicators
Defining Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) helps us to evaluate the effectiveness of established controls and processes. These metrics offer an objective data foundation for informed decisions about improvement. KPIs can include indicators such as quality, execution times, costs, customer satisfaction, and other relevant aspects.
Some useful quality KPIs in construction include the construction defect rate, compliance with delivery deadlines, and resource utilization efficiency. You can implement surveying processes for customer satisfaction reviews.
By defining clear metrics and regularly monitoring their performance, areas for improvement can be identified, and corrective or preventive actions can be taken. To learn more on this subject, you can read about our solution for the analysis of construction indicators here.
ISO 9001 documentation requirements
Forms and Work Instructions Documents
Creating forms and work instructions is fundamental to implementing a quality management system in line with the ISO 9001 standard. The goal of standardizing these types of documents is to provide a consistent structure for recording critical information and capturing relevant data at different stages of the construction project.
Work forms can include inspection records, change requests, and non-conformance reports. Ultimately, the aim is to document key activities.
On the other hand, work instructions detail specific steps and procedures for carrying out tasks correctly and meeting quality standards. These guides offer practical guidance to employees and contractors, ensuring activities are consistently performed and meet established requirements.
Identifying with records need to be maintained
An ISO 9001 quality management system requires maintaining up-to-date information about company performance. Records are documented evidence that demonstrates planned activities have been carried out in accordance with established requirements.
Construction companies often need to keep updated inspection reports, test records, material conformity certificates, employee training documents, and non-conformance and corrective/preventive action records.
Defining criteria for document control
In the context of the ISO 9001 quality management system in construction, establishing clear criteria for document control is essential. This involves defining processes and requirements for creating, reviewing, approving, and distributing documents used in the quality management system. It’s also important to clearly establish when any of these documents have become obsolete or are no longer in use.
What are the criteria for document control? Some examples include document versions and formats, as well as storage and retrieval criteria. Furthermore, it’s necessary to determine who has access to the documents and who is responsible for their updating and maintenance. Construction document control and access platforms are key factors in implementing this aspect of ISO 9001 quality standards.
How to Audit and Obtain ISO 9001 Certification
Development of an Audit Plan
The audit plan sets out the details of how this important procedure for obtaining ISO 9001 certification will be conducted. This plan should include the scope, audit criteria, audit team, and schedule. During plan development, specific processes and areas to be audited should be identified, taking into account risks and key focus areas.
A comprehensive audit plan in the construction sector can include:
- Review of design processes and documentation
- Inspection of on-site construction activities
- Quality records reviewing
- Risk management & evaluation
Conducting Audit Activities
Once a detailed plan has been developed, the next step is to conduct the audit activities. This involves conducting interviews, reviewing documents, and making observations at the workplace to assess the conformity of the quality management system with ISO 9001 requirements.
For a construction company to obtain ISO 9001 certification, auditors from the competent body will review records, ask questions, and verify the effective implementation of established controls and processes. Auditors may interview project team members, review documented procedures, observe on-site activity execution, and analyze quality records.
Audit activities provide a clear picture of the effectiveness of the quality management system in construction, identify areas for improvement, and provide recommendations for meeting standard requirements.
Obtaining ISO 9001 Certification
Once the audit is successfully completed, the next step is to obtain ISO 9001 certification through an accredited certification body. This body will review the audit results and assess whether the quality management system meets the requirements set out in the ISO 9001 standard.
Official certification will be granted when the organization demonstrates that it meets ISO 9001’s guidelines. By obtaining ISO 9001 certification, construction organizations can demonstrate to customers and stakeholders their commitment to quality, enhance their reputation, and open new business opportunities.
It’s important to note that certification is valid for a specific period and requires periodic follow-up audits to keep it current and ensure continuous improvement of the quality management system.
SO 9001 certification not only offers a competitive advantage but also enhances customer satisfaction and offers growth opportunities in the construction market. Implementing a robust quality management system based on the ISO 9001 standard is a crucial step toward building successful projects and meeting internationally recognized quality standards.