Can (and should) you do ISO 9001 in a single department/area?

J

JaneB

Re: ISO 9001:2008 for Marketing and Sales Department Only.

Wow, this topic stimulated some interesting and strong responses!

My original statement, which I stand by, was that I did not agree that there could never be
value in restricting certification to a single department or area of a company. In my experience, it not only can be done but also it isn't always a bad idea in & of itself.

I spent some time thinking this over in the light of the many and strong responses (in between dog walking and house cleaning and a whole lot of other stuff) - yes, I do agree that the question asked by the poster in the thread this one came out of keeping it to Sales & Marketing only sounded a bit odd on the face of it.

But I also wonder if we're being distracted & just thinking about that department only, or hearing/envisaging different things re. 'single department'. I asked to break the topic out to ensure we don't muddy ONE specific poster's situation(Sales & Marketing Department) with the broader question. Suggest we do need to widen thinking to include 'area', 'business unit' etc.

And no, I don't accept that it can 'never' work and should 'never' be done and has zero value. It has - and often very successfully - in my experience.

Here's some examples (most large, multi-site or multinational organisations).

  • a specific program (team of 150 people overseeing multiple projects occurring across the organisation) responsible for delivering a particular large program over a defined 4 year period - all customers of the program were internal; one of the various benefits was that many, many people learned about 9001, how it could work and took that knowledge and experience back into their own departments when they moved on
  • a department responsible for internal security & risk management - all customers internal; approx 20 people in team
  • a single & relatively small department responsible for providing specialised software services - all customers internal
  • a business unit whose raison d'etre was to provide certain specialised training & management services to all other areas of the institution - internal customers only
  • a company who restricted scope to a single product line only for very good reasons
  • a company who restricted their scope to 1 specific large contract with a single large customer - left other areas of the company outside the scope to begin with, got the cert, & then progressively took it 'up a level' and widened it to other sites and areas of the business
  • a business unit responsible for providing specific 'back office' management services for the insitution - all customers internal
  • med sized company who restricted it to their head office site only, initially, and then extended it to cover other sites in different states later

I'm going to agree with Sidney. I have had several experiences of large companies doing what the OP asked about - in 'large' companies...

There will always be a CB who will want to get a foot in the door and I'm amazed that accreditation bodies haven't seen through this type of certification - they just don't work!

The certifiers in question were all reputable, well known & respected. Not in my experience and opinion either crappy certifiers, or acting unprofessionally. Indeed, in each case, each certifier took care to consider it and explore all the parameters to ensure they could reasonably do it ethically and professionally.

I see Jane's point and I believe that using one part of the organization as a 'pilot' implementation - especially in a large business - is a good idea. But it should stop before certification!

?? Why? I see no problem in starting in a defined area (please, please, let's not keep thinking we are ONLY talking about certifying a Sales & Marketing Department!!!) as a pilot, achieving the cert as well as learning, and then later widening the scope. Been there, done it, and it has worked.
Sometimes it's quite an interesting challenge (eg, how to cover competency when the HR department of the large institution manages same & isn't part of the scope) and the organisation has to understand they can't just 'stop at the department/project/area' and say 'go no further' as it doesn't work like that.

My view is: explain all to the institution, educate them as far as possible and then, help them achieve their stated goals (always of course provided it is valuable, professionally reasonable and ethical to do so).

ISO 9001 2008 says that its requirements are (my bold added)
'generic and are intended to be applicable to all organisations, regardless of type, size and product provided'

And ISO 9000:2006 defines an organization as a (bold added):

group of people and facilities with an arrangement of responsibilities, authorities and relationships
Example: Company, corporation, firm, enterprise, institution, charity, sole trader, association, or parts or combination thereof

and says under 'customer'
A customer can be internal or external to the organisation

I do agree with a number of the points various people have made about the risks in taking a 'departmental approach' and that doing the 'whole organization' is generally much better and that management may not realize what they are doing when they try to use departmental thinking etc.

But I query this:
The basic problem is that ISO 9001 implementation makes sense, when the customer(s) we focus on are the external, paying customers.

Really? Where in ISO 9000 is that said? This doesn't for me match with customers being internal or external. Is there some guidance document I don't know about or have missed, Sidney? If there is, I'd like to know so I can read it & think about it.
 

AndyN

Moved On
Indeed, Jane some lively discussion. We rarely disagree, but after reading and re-reading these posts, I fail to see any true value in an implementation in a single department! I'm tempted to say, "just because you can, doesn't mean you should".

If the OP provided some idea that there's an intention to implement in other parts of the organization, I could be persuaded. Some of those you offered seemed to be like that, but I have to say that it would be a very unusual organization if sales and marketing were the only part of the business to need any type of quality system.

And, what of the hapless (external) customer? If the OP's company has a manufacturing function, possibly even design, service etc., wouldn't the customers' expectations be that there was some assurance that the system took care of what they bought? Not just who they placed the order with?

BTW I wasn't implying that the CB's weren't professional etc. I'm simply suggesting that while some will not support piecemeal implementations, others will - in the hope that there's more business to come........I saw just such a situation recently. No-one has told the client they run the risk of having a complaint lodged against their chosen CB when they get a certificate, because 'top management' weren't involved in the implementation.......:notme:
 

Stijloor

Leader
Super Moderator
Friends,

I've been working with quality management systems for 20+ years. I have yet to see an organization where only a single department/process was ISO certified. I know it's possible, and a Registrar/CB may possibly agree to this approach, but I can't see the value other than to "look good."

Stijloor.
 

tony s

Information Seeker
Trusted Information Resource
I believe that if a company claims that they have a certified QMS that produces a certain product, then all the processes or departments that are involved must be included in the scope of certification. A company who will claim full certification in producing/designing a product but has a limited scope (i.e. Sales and Marketing only) is misrepresenting the ISO certificate to their customer.

As long as the scope is clear as to what is the product or service being offered, who are the intended user of the product/service, and what processes or departments are involved in order to deliver the product/service, then claiming certification to such scope IMHO is well grounded.

Here in this part of the world we have:
  • a power distribution company with an ISO 9k certified training process to ensure employee competence;
  • a fastfood giant with an ISO 9k certified burger patty making process for distribution to stores nationwide;
  • a government bank with ISO 9k certifications to two of their products - trust banking and wholesale lending;
  • city governments with ISO 9k certifications on their business permit issuance process;
  • and many others on the service sector.

I would have to agree with JaneB.

tony s
 
S

Sorin

Mea culpa if I will offend some but once again greed and stupidity proves that infinity and beyond is not just an expression.


Certification of a single departement following a standard that is finally (as in final goal) intended for the satisfaction of the customer through the delivery of a product/service that meets this customer requirements it's the perfect example of stupidity and greediness that gives ISO a bad name.

Just put yourself in the shoes of one of the customers of a company that was claiming ISO for ONE departement.

What is your level of confidence in that company.

NB: Pick any departement/process.
 

Sidney Vianna

Post Responsibly
Leader
Admin
Re: ISO 9001:2008 for Marketing and Sales Department Only.

But I query this:

Really? Where in ISO 9000 is that said? This doesn't for me match with customers being internal or external. Is there some guidance document I don't know about or have missed, Sidney? If there is, I'd like to know so I can read it & think about it.
There is wisdom outside of ISO 9000, Jane.

I am very aware about the concept of internal customers and the ISO 9000 inclusion of "internal customers". But "internal customers" can also be a broad term. For example, a Ford engine assembly site that provides products to another Ford vehicle assembly site has an internal customer (within Ford). In those type of situations, there is no problem for an ISO 9001 implementation and certification.

But the concept of departments of a single organization treating each other as internal customers and suppliers and going independently for ISO 9001 implementation and certification is utterly, absolutely nonsensical in my opinion. Others might disagree, obviously.
 
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J

JaneB

Re: ISO 9001:2008 for Marketing and Sales Department Only.

There is wisdom outside of ISO 9000, Jane.

With all due respect, Sidney, this is somewhat patronising, and is a non sequitur that simply doesn't address the topic at hand, nor the questions I asked.

But the concept of departments of a single organization treating each other as internal customers and suppliers and going independently for ISO 9001 implementation and certification is utterly, absolutely nonsensical in my opinion. Others might disagree, obviously.

If you are drawing from my response that I favour or am advocating the concept of a whole lot of individual departments within the same organisation all individually going for certification, this is not so :nope:
(and I quite agree it would be utterly nonsensical).

But I think we have to agree to disagree on this one. Clearly we've had different experience.

So - just to clarify for me, am I to conclude from yours and AndyN's responses that DNV would refuse to consider certifying anything less than an entire company/organisation? And that the various examples given including mine (necessarily brief to preserve confidentiality of course) would not be accepted by DNV?
 

Sidney Vianna

Post Responsibly
Leader
Admin
Re: ISO 9001:2008 for Marketing and Sales Department Only.

So - just to clarify for me, am I to conclude from yours and AndyN's responses that DNV would refuse to consider certifying anything less than an entire company/organisation? And that the various examples given including mine (necessarily brief to preserve confidentiality of course) would not be accepted by DNV?
You should look at my profile here at the Cove for the answer to that question.
 
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J

JaneB

Re: ISO 9001:2008 for Marketing and Sales Department Only.

You should look at my profile here at the Cove for the answer to that question.

Oops yes - sorry, my apologies. Not a reasonable question, please consider it withdrawn.

:topic:
PS - when did the chromosomes take over from 'repositioning' (I think it was)? Raises all kinds of interesting questions :lol:
 
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