Sep 28, 2017

Product Requirements in ISO 9001

Lost customers are extremely difficult to win back, and that’s why ISO 9001 has two dedicated sections that require the QMS to implement processes that help the company understand what is required for their products or services. These deal firstly with defining the requirements and then reviewing those requirements.

Companies make sure their services or products meet the needs of their customers through product requirements. When they do this well, the company could achieve great customer satisfaction, but if it is done poorly, customers will be a disappointment, and this will eventually lead to customers finding an alternative supplier for the products or services.

Determine Product Requirements

Determining product requirements is often harder than what it first appears. Customer requirements have different forms, including delivery requirements and what should happen after the product has been delivered, such as product recycling or servicing. There are some requirements that customer doesn’t state, but these could be determined by looking at what the product is intended for.

There are also legal requirements that various industries must meet and some companies are aware of more requirements they should meet if the service or product is to work, although these requirements might not be described elsewhere.  This often happens with companies offering services and the company defines their offering to their clients, even though the customers do not specify what’s needed. By ensuring that all requirements necessary for the service or product have been taken care of, the probability of missing something critical that would result in customer dissatisfaction is limited.

If we use a life preserver as an example, the customer will require that it be a specific size, while its intended use of keeping a person in water afloat will mean that it has to float and also keep the person wearing it floating. The legal requirements for life preservers will specify the material colour to be used, while the company could identify that a strong, waterproof fabric should be used. The requirements from these 4 different areas would ideally all be part of the product’s design.

Review Product Requirements

It is critical that after the requirements have been identified, the company should review them before it agrees to supply the product or service. If the requirements specified by a customer are not documented, the company should make sure that all requirements are checked before it accepts the agreement. Agreements to supply products or services to customers can be in many forms, including submission of tenders and accepting orders or contracts. When the requirements are reviewed, it is also important to look at accepting any changes to the original tender, order or contract.

The review needs to ensure that all requirements are defined, irrespective of where they come from. The next step is to make sure that differences, if any, in requirements are resolved. One example of this would be if there are two types of different requirements, and the customer requirement does not align with a requirement that the company believes are needed so that the product can function as designed.  A customer might want a plastic part that is lightweight, but the company knows that due to excess wear, a metal part is needed. Another example is when the order changes and this change results in a new requirement that had not been taken into account previously. The quantity ordered could for example increase from 10 to 100, but the longer delivery time has not been taken into account.

As always, it is important to maintain proper records of reviews and order acceptance. Changes should also be communicated to employees who are responsible for implementing the changes. Although a formal review of orders may be impractical in some cases such as online sales, a review of product information such as advertising materials may be adequate, as this is after all that will be used to place the order.

In ISO 9001, the last part of the product review is that the company must ensure that it is able to meet the requirements that have been defined. In the example mentioned, if the order quantity changes from 10 to 100 but the delivery time stays the same, the company might decide that this is impossible because more time is needed to create the product or service.

Improving Customer Satisfaction

If a company uses adequate resources to determine and review product and service requirements, it will lead to a reduction of errors that may occur due to uncertainty about requirements and how these will be met. Customer satisfaction is often not lost when a company states up front that they’re unable to meet the requirements for a product or service. Dissatisfaction occurs when a customer expects a requirement to be met, but it’s not. Making sure that all requirements are understood and agreed on, and that these can be met by the company, will improve customer satisfaction and keep them coming back for more.

ISO 9001 quality management systems (QMS) are implemented using MyEasyISO software in Munich (Germany), while ISO 14001 & OHSAS 18001 Health Safety Management Systems (HSE) are implemented with MyEasyISO in Athens (Greece).

Sree Vidhya

CRM Specialist At Effivity
Sree has over 7+ years of experience. She excels in building strong client relationships and ensuring customer satisfaction. Sree's expertise and dedication help drive Effivity's commitment to exceptional customer service.

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