As a project manager who designs, implements and gets a quality management system certified, there are just way too many parameters to list and discuss when you should seek certification.  The arbitrary milestones of December (for the calendar year KPI) and June (for the fiscal year KPI) leave me a little cold, especially when we get engaged at 2~3 months out from these lines drawn in the sand.  I will have a complete rant on the above in later newsletters, but let me set the table with the following thoughts.  A quality management system to reveal and support best practice should take 3~6 months to design and take to certification.  A quality management system for certification sake should take 2~3 months to design and take to certification.  There is plenty of pro and con with both scenarios, but one that can only ever be determined by the corporate sponsor of the project or the owner of the business, who best know or want a particular outcome.

No matter the what and the why you want a quality management system and certification of same (my recommendation is to always seek and achieve certification), don’t wait.  Did you hear me (read me).  Don’t wait.

The certification process is the magic, is the verification, is the fresh set of eyes of validation.  Be proud of the achievements of the systems, of the innovation.  Remember, a thoughtful quality management system focuses on continual improvement.  Therefore by definition, no system is ever perfect, is ever ready for certification.  So bite the bullet and subject it to the process.  You know the thousand improvements that could be made.  You know that you (think) you meet the minimum requirements of certification, so why not test the assumption and reap the rewards.

The good news is you get certified.  The auditor finds areas for improvement or observes opportunities for consideration, most of which will benefit the system and your company.  The really good news is that of the thousand improvement you suspect could be made, your certifier has whittled that down to 1, 2, 3 or more giving you focus and another 6~12 months in which to mitigate.  It also gives you 6~12 months to improve all other areas that are subsequently tested through day to day operations.  The really, really good news, that should you ‘fail’, you now have a very finite list of actions to complete in order to satisfy your auditor and the resources and focus to do it.  Most certifiers give you 1~3 months in which to do this, thus giving definition to the project and the ultimate goal.