ISO 9001: Competence

In this series of blog posts, I will be taking a look at the main sections of ISO 9001, what they are, why they are important ...

This 101 is looking at Section 7.2 - Competence. Why is this important to my business? Because every person in your business should be competent at the job they do. In order to assess their competence, you need to have decided what that means for each individual or type of job.

"For instance, a finance administrator does not necessarily need to know how you make your products, but a machine operator does!"

There will be levels of competence depending on education, skill level, training and experience. Some, who have been with the company a long time, and have a wealth of skills may be able to train others, whereas a new recruit will no doubt need to be trained in order to get them up to the right competence levels.

If a person no longer meets the required competence, then training, mentoring and coaching should be provided where practical to do so. Evidence of all of this needs to be retained e.g. training certificates.

How do I manage this? Some of you may already have an HR portal where you record all the relevant information. If not, a great way to get started is to create job descriptions which outline the roles competences. Note that there is a difference between role and persons doing the job. In a small business you might do sales, finance, and operations, but in a bigger business, these will be separated roles.

Once you have created these you can set up a spreadsheet with all the competencies listed alongside your employee names. Each employee can be given a score between 1 and 5, for example. 1 is new to this competence and needs training, 3 has been trained and competent, 5 is able to train others. This will then show you if you have any gaps in competence.

"So, if your finance admin goes off sick, who can do the invoices, make payments and so forth?"

For each of the levels of competence, it is useful to identify how you know that person is competent. Do they need a finance certificate to do the job or can an apprentice do it if trained? The competence spreadsheet should be reviewed whenever needed, but at least once per year to keep it up-to-date.

Many of the companies I have worked with have found it useful to have an independent person to work with them to help understand the requirements and how to implement them.


If you would like to know more about anything I've mentioned in this blog post, do give me a call on 01858 414226 or leave a comment below and let's see how I can help you.