When finally deciding to implement a (QMS) using the ISO standard, you will definitely hear about doing a gap analysis. But what exactly does a gap analysis mean, and how is it performed? Elaborating on the concept of gap analysis, this article discusses whether ISO certification readiness requires a gap analysis or not.
What is a gap analysis, and what are its advantages?
A gap analysis is a process whereby a company compares its present performance to its intended, ideal performance. This analysis examines whether or not the company in question is meeting expectations and utilising its resources properly. It can help you estimate the planned implementation scope and determine the required resources such as; people, time, and money to obtain an ISO certification.
In other words, a gap analysis helps you find out where you are, where you should be, and what steps you should take to get there. Without gap analysis, it is next to impossible to get a clear picture of your company’s status and track down the sources of trouble that hinder you from moving forward. Another advantage of gap analysis is that it helps you narrow down your goals and focus mainly on the areas that need improvement. This follows with saving your time, money, and energy.
What is certification readiness?
As you might already know, ISO stands for International Organization for Standardization which comprises standard bodies from over 160 countries. In terms of ISO standards, an ISO certification is a globally-accepted assurance confirming that a service, product, or system satisfies the standard’s criteria. A certification readiness then, as the name suggests, shows that a business has all the requirements and hence, is ready to obtain a given ISO standard. After the certification is issued, it is valid for three years. At any point throughout the certification lifecycle, organisations may transfer their ISO certificate from one certifying body to another.
Is a gap analysis required for ISO certification readiness?
By now, you must have realised that getting a certification readiness somehow mandates a gap analysis. A certification readiness is issued after all non-compliant points are fulfilled, and this is possible only after running a gap analysis. Now let’s see how a gap analysis is conducted and what steps are included.
How to conduct a gap analysis
You can perform the gap analysis yourself or ask an ISO consultant to do it for you. If done by a consultant, you don’t need to do much, but if you decide to do the job on your own, here’s what you should do.
Obtaining the related ISO checklist
Depending on the type of ISO certificate you want, you need to get the related checklist that addresses all the clauses of your intended ISO and provides notes and comments to help you. You can get this checklist from any ISO provider near you.
Assessing the non-compliant points
By consulting the checklist, you’ll be able to identify the non-compliant points and prepare for remedial actions, which are again included in your checklist. More often than not, 75% of your management system is doing well and meets the requirements. Regarding the other 25%, you need to apply the required changes to get the certification readiness.
Preparing a report
After conducting the gap analysis, it is time to prepare an inclusive report that describes your current status as clearly as possible. Here should include everything related to what you reviewed in your analysis, how you did it, and what you found. This report will be of great use when preparing an action plan. Please notice that missing any essential point in the report will result in an incomplete action plan which, as you can guess, will not end in certification readiness.
Tips for performing a successful gap analysis
- When a consultant performs the gap analysis, he might ask your staff about your quality management system. Therefore, it is essential to ask your employees to be well-prepared for those questions. This is not to say that your staff should provide the consultant with fake information. They should update their information regarding the sector/s they are responsible for so that they can provide the consultant with accurate information. This would help the consultant get a clear picture of your current status and easily identify the weak points.
- Keep in mind that the gap analysis focuses on your current status. So, look upon your management system as it is right now, not how it will be in the near future. You can stick to your future plans, but they should not be considered when assessing your current situation.
- It is possible to conduct gap analysis with small groups of staff. For example, you can perform a gap analysis with the senior management group and another with the operational staff. In such cases, it is quite possible to receive different responses to the same question/s. But, there is no need to panic. Your staff would respond to the questions based on their position in the company and the body of information they possess regarding any given area. The auditor/s will interview several employees from each sector to come up with a definite response to each question and then assess the status of your business.
Fulfilling the requirements
Up to this stage, you have conducted a clean gap analysis and therefore know which aspects of your system need improvement. Now, it’s time you met the auditors again and asked them to help you with a proper action plan. This action plan paves the way for improving underdeveloped sectors. The more informative your gap analysis, the more plausible the action plan. Whether you can fulfil the requirements in a few months or several years depends on the scope of changes you should apply and, more importantly, your determination in this regard.
Obtaining ISO certification for your business is a big step toward success. An Iso certification readiness shows that your management system has the required standards as defined by the International Organization for Standardization. This article explained why a gap analysis is needed for ISO certification readiness and described how this analysis could be done. If you want to perform a gap analysis and need help, reach out and tell us about your business.