ISO 9001 certification using Plone
At Four Digits we want to work using certain guidelines and structure. To ensure quality we decided to try to get ISO 9001 certified. ISO 9000 is a familiy of standards for quality management systems. It's maintained by the Organization for Standardization. ISO 9001:2008 is the subset for Quality management systems and is intended for use in any organization.
Some of the requirements in ISO 9001:2008 include a set of procedures that cover all key processes in the business, such as:
- Monitoring processes to ensure they are effective;
- Keeping adequate records;
- Checking output for defects, with appropriate and corrective action where necessary;
- Regularly reviewing individual processes and the quality system itself for effectiveness; and
- Facilitating continual improvements
The classic example what companies do to ensure quality, is creating large procedures, instructions and manuals on paper. All the papers have to be reviewed and maintained and must be kept up to date. Changelogs have to be kept up to date by hand. We want to encourage the use of digital solutions and this is where Plone comes in; our company intranet and client support system is based on Plone. We added several functionalities to our intranet (custom products / add-ons, extenders) to fill the need of quality control of all kinds of documents and messages.The core of the system exists of procedures which describe how we work, instructions (howto's) and handbooks (staff handbook, plans).
Versioning for the win
One of the big wins of Plone in this situation is that you can use versioning and comments to document what changes you implemented in documents, support tickets, instructions and procedures. By making certain input required, such as the 'Change note', so your changes get documented. The out-of-the-box feature to compare revisions of documents is a great feature to see what's happened to a procedure or instruction. Next to versioning of documents, we use subversion for our code and trac to display all the changes, so this is also documented.
One of the key things in ISO 9001 is customer satisfaction through consistent products and services which meet customer expectations. In our procedures and instructions we describe how we work. To provide support to our customers we initiated a online support system using tickets where all the changes and progress is being placed. The customer logs in to the system and sees what happened and when. If advice is needed, bugs or problems occur, this is the place to report them. All projects and improvements are also managed by these tickets. It is one of the main components of our system.
When we started to think about this we called the help of Ouke Pijl from 2Reflect. To be honest, we didn't knew a lot about ISO 9001 and he explained and translated the ISO guidelines to something we could grasp and understand. We improved and extended the intranet system based on that advice. It was time to think about certification.
A company called Det Norske Vertias was contacted; DNV specializes in inspection/audits/certification and managing risk for all kinds of organizations. Peter Blankestijn, our contact and lead auditor DNV certification joined us at our office for a first 'try out' audit in March. He asked us almost about everything in our company and we had to explain how things worked, how we document things and how we can proof that we actually work using the guidelines we specify. We showed him our intranet, client system, ticket system, projects, versioning, comments and all other aspects. The combination of the documents, tickets, addons and history is the base of the system. He told us he was impressed by the way we set things up and which approach we had on this subject. Also he communicated all his recommendations for the things still missing.
We got some time to implement these things and Peter visited us again in August for the real ISO 9001 audit which took place on two different days. Everything was audited, questions asked, things which has to be proven and we could do this all by using our Plone based intranet system as reference. Peter was very positive and wrote his recommendations, wrote the needed reports and send them to DNV, which reviews the audit-results and makes the final decision. Now we wait…
We've got it!
After a few weeks we got the official message, we are ISO 9001 2008 certified! The official certificate was send by mail. The certificate has a nice place on our company wall:
Add-on Products we used to realize this system:
Thanks and info
I would like to thank Ouke Pijl and Peter Blankestijn for their great help, advice and information!