University Of Tasmania
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An investigation into the post-certification phase of the ISO 9001 quality management system

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posted on 2023-05-28, 12:54 authored by Seneviratne, IU
Quality has become increasingly important for every business organisation due to the rapid growth of competition, globalisation, and customer demands. In this context, businesses around the world embraced the ISO 9001 certification to improve quality and business practices. This trend attracted researchers' interest into the early stages of the ISO 9001 lifecycle and most of the research projects in QMS have revolved around the implementation stage. However, the global diffusion of the ISO 9001 certification today has shifted researchers' attention from the implementation stage to the post-certification stage. Understanding the importance of post-certification phase is essential to achieve an effective QMS. The post-certification phase however, has received little attention and has been isolated in the quality management literature. The current research attempts to fill this gap by investigating the reasons for seeking the ISO 9001 certificate, the tactics used to maintain and improve the established QMS, and the obstacles associated with it. This study adopts a quantitative approach as the major research methodology. A questionnaire survey was conducted to collect data from Australian and Sri Lankan ISO 9001 certified manufacturing and maritime and logistics companies. The convenience sampling technique was used to select the companies for the sample from both countries with responses being received from 20 and 21 participants respectively from Australia and Sri Lanka. Descriptive and inferential statistical methods were employed to analyse the collected data. The findings suggest that the three main motivational factors for adopting the ISO 9001 certification by Australian and Sri Lankan certified organisations are similar, but with different rankings of importance, and include improving product and service quality, promoting the organisation's quality image, and improving internal processes. However, the primary motivational factor of each country is different with the main motive of Australian organisations being to improve product and service quality, whilst the promotion of a quality image rates highest with Sri Lankan organisations. In addition, a significant difference was found in the level of importance of opening export possibilities as a motive between the two countries. All of the certified companies have encountered different impediments during their post-certification period. The major issues that appear to hinder the maintenance and improvement process of Australian organisations are the lack of organisational focus on the continual improvement of the QMS, the strategic plan of the organisation not being aligned with the QMS, and internal quality audits not being taken seriously by management. Sri Lankan organisations mostly experience employee-related issues including employee resistance to change, lack of employees' commitment to fulfill the QMS requirements, and lack of employees' knowledge on ISO 9001 QMS requirements. Moreover, the strategic plan of the organisation not being aligned with the QMS is one of the common obstacles organisations experience and is within the first five main impediments in both countries. Further, a significant difference was found against the issue of lack of organisational focus on continual improvement of the QMS in the two countries. The results of the study indicate that certified organisations from both countries use technical and non-technical tactics to maintain and improve their QMS. Both countries have considered the maintenance of the documented information required by the QMS as one of the main maintenance tactics and it remains among the first three main maintenance tactics in both countries. The maintenance of a good relationship with interested parties relevant to the QMS shows a significant difference in the level of practice as a QMS maintenance tactic in these countries. The results also show a significant difference in the benefits of establishing a reward system to encourage new ideas from employees between two countries. This study provides insights to the importance of maintenance and improvement of the ISO 9001 QMS and enriches the extant literature by addressing the post-certification phase and associated impediments. Further, it develops a QMS maintenance and improvement framework which can guide certified organisations to effectively operate their QMS after certification. Organisations can also gain a better knowledge and understanding about the real motives for adopting a QMS and how a QMS needs to be maintained and improved as well as the related difficulties and challenges. In addition, this study brings valuable inputs to the technical committee of ISO 9001 such as issues in continual improvement of the QMS and human aspects as being critical impediments to the maintenance and improvement of the QMS in certified organisations regardless of their motivations to adopt the standard. The ISO 9001 technical committee can consider these findings and make relevant amendments as well as integrate non-technical tactics into the standard to avoid failures in the post-certification phase. Moreover, the framework introduced by this study can also be tested with other industry sectors in future research.


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