One of the most intense activities to do during an ISO 9001 implementation is to define the procedures of the business. In this blog, you will learn on how to create the Sales Procedure as per ISO 9001 requirements.
Through this blog, we will take the following two examples to explain how the same requirement is not equally important to all industries:
- Supermarket – when clients visit a supermarket, they proceed to selecting items from the shelves that they’d like to purchase. The prices are attached to the products. The availability of the products is instantly available for the customer to see – if it’s on the shelf, then it’s available.
- Marketing agency – marketing, or in this case advertising, is the activity through which leads are obtained for the client. There are various tactics that can be employed. Moreover, the there are different levels of the involvement that are expected by both parties (the client and the agency).
The following is an example a Sales Procedure as per ISO 9001 requirements
Why write procedures?
Whenever working with a client, in our capacity as ISO 9001 consultants in Malta, we like to explain to our clients the reasoning behind asking our clients to get anything done. There are various benefits on why you should write procedures, here as but a few:
- Create a structured way on how to tackle the key elements of your business
- Have a foundation over which continual improvement can be carried out
- Making it easier to explain and communicate the roles of different people involved in a specific process
- Identify any pitfalls, or missing links for the flow of information, while defining the procedure
- It is the first step into creating a successful succession plan for the business owner
Besides the above benefits, one of the requirements of ISO 9001:2015 is to evaluate the risks that exist within the organization. Not having the key processes clearly documented, poses the risk that certain elements of the key activities are not done repeatedly. In turn, this might cause lower levels of customer satisfaction due to lack of consistency.
Communicating with customers in relation to information about the products or services
This is the first requirement for what needs to be defined within the sales procedure. This requirement is within Clause 8.2.1 of the standard. And here, we need to define how the company goes about handling inquiries, contracts and order handling. Naturally, the extent to which this clause can be followed depends on the industry.
For the two above organizations, it can be seen that the level of detail that needs to be communicated when agreeing on a sale is widely different. For a supermarket, the customer effectively loads the products onto a physical cart, and the only ‘documented information’ that is required is to the fiscal receipt to denote the purchased. For the marketing agency, it would be wise to define the service description, payment terms, total price and other conditions as deemed necessary. This can be done through various forms, as long as there is mutual understanding between the customer and the service provider.
In the Sales Procedure as per ISO 9001 requirements, we will therefore explain the steps that are required for the company to achieve the requirements of having communicated with the customer in relation to the information about the products or services.
A process to determine the requirements for products and services required by customers
The second requirement within ISO 9001:2015 for the sales procedure is within Clause 8.2.2. In this clause, we need to explain on how the company has “established, implemented, and maintained a process to determine the requirements for products and services to be offered to customers”.
Continuing on the above two examples, meeting this requirement for the supermarket is easy. The customers come to the shop, and take the products they need themselves. Effectively, the supermarket has no specific need to define the customer requirements. This is because customers choose what they need and proceed to paying for the selected items.
The scenario is completely different for the marketing agency. Here, we will need to get a clear understanding of the requirements of the customer. Prior to meeting the requirement of Clause 8.2.1, we will need to know what the customer needs. There are several ways in which this can be done, for example:
- having a meeting with the client and asking specific questions
- receiving a design brief from the client on the work that needs to be done
Irrespective of how we’ll get the information, we will need to have a defined process on how to define what the customer needs. Subsequently, we will be in a position to issue a quote to highlight the requirements for products and services as required by the customer.
Confirming our ability to meet customer requirements
A relatively obscure requirement, Clause 8.2.3 requires of a business to confirm that it has the ability to effectively offer the products and services that were requested by the customer.
I strongly believe that most companies would have 80% of the system required for ISO Certification even before starting the implementation process. It is then up to the consultant to identify the remaining 20% of the requirements and to set system that help the organization to improve (rather than to create a bureaucratic system).
And this requirement is a clear indication of this point. I am very sure that most companies confirm that they have the ability to reach the customer requirements in terms of:
- knowledge – the skills needed within the company to do the job
- resources (people) – available people-power to deliver the product/service
- resources (suppliers) – available contacts to acquire any products needed to deliver the product/service
Ensuring that relevant documented information is amended when there is a change
Thankfully, ISO 9001:2015 does not exist in an academic bubble, that is completely detached from reality. Rather, the writes of the the standard are aware of the realities that most business owners face.
Changing customer requirements after the project has been kicked-off is relatively normal. And the standard is completely fine with that. However clause 8.2.4 asks us to make sure that such changes are documented. Should the requirements change, we will need to update our agreements with the clients, to reflect these updated requirements.
This way, there will always be an agreed scope of works.
Sales Procedure as per ISO 9001 requirements
In conclusion, the Sales Procedure as per ISO 9001 requirements will change depending on the company that is implementing the standard. In this blog, we took 2 examples.
The supermarket can have a very simple procedure to define all the Sales Procedure as per ISO 9001 requirements. While on the other hand, for the marketing agency, we might need to have different procedures on how to carry out each step within the sales process.
Should you want more information, feel free to get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org, or to request a quote for ISO certification.