When you are implementing ISO 9001, it is critical that everyone knows what you are doing and why. ISO 9001 may start from the top management, but it is crucial to have all employees on board if you are going to make your implementation successful and effective. This is why everyone should be given some training in ISO 9001 awareness, but how do you do this?

What should be contained in awareness training material?

Most people in your organization do not need to know the ISO 9001 standard thoroughly, and in many cases, they do not need to read the standard to be able to properly do their jobs in compliance with your quality management system (QMS). In many ways, it is more important that they understand why you are implementing your QMS per the ISO 9001 standard than understanding what ISO 9001 actually says. So, what should be contained in ISO 9001 awareness training material?

Here is a list of some of the most common topics that can be included in awareness training, but these can be changed depending on your particular company:

  • Why are you implementing a quality management system? If you do not already have a QMS in place, then your employees will wonder why you are doing so now. If people see why you are doing this, they will more easily understand why they need to help.
  • What is a quality management system? Again, many employees may not know what a QMS is if you do not already have one in place, so give them a definition.
  • What is the ISO 9001 standard? A brief explanation of what a standard is and how the ISO 9001 standard is applicable to a QMS goes a long way toward explaining that you want to make your QMS recognizable to regular industry practices.
  • What are the general requirements of the ISO 9001 standard? Even for those employees who will not need to know the ISO 9001 standard, understanding the structure of the requirements is a good way for them to know how far reaching your QMS will be within your organization. In this way, employees know that everyone is involved in the QMS.
  • Why are you using ISO 9001 for your quality management system? There are other standards for a QMS, so why use ISO 9001? If this is the standard recognized by your customer base or your industry, then your employees should know this. Some information from the “Six Key Benefits of ISO 9001 Implementation” blog post above can be used here.
  • How do you expect employees to use the QMS? This is probably the most important information in your training. After you have told your employees about the QMS and how ISO 9001 is involved, what do you want them to do? They need to understand that the processes and procedures of the QMS need to be followed for consistency, but also that they should bring feedback on improvements when they see them, since this is part of the QMS. Employees are an integral part of the processes to make sure they work and help the QMS improve.

How should you create these training materials?

How the materials are presented is very much dependent on your company, and up to you. Many people will present this information through a PowerPoint presentation, but many other methods could be used: lunch and learn discussions, department meetings, orientation sessions, or even available written documents to read. The important part of the awareness training is employee understanding, so make sure you present in a language and method that your employees can understand. It can also be very helpful to allow lots of time for questions.

Is this all the training you need?

For many of your employees, this might be the only ISO 9001 training they need, with more focus on their job-specific processes and procedures being a more relevant way for them to understand what they need to do to support the QMS. It is important for your process experts to understand the parts of the ISO 9001 requirements that relate to their processes so that they can make sure their process is compliant with the requirements, but even these people will not need to know the entire standard.

It is good for everyone to understand what you are doing and why, but do not go overboard with training that your employees do not need. Focus your training on the skills and processes that people need to know, and they can focus on doing the tasks needed to make your QMS successful.

For helpful guidance on implementing ISO 9001, see this Project plan for ISO 9001 implementation.