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AS9100: Why Would You Ever Put Your Company Through It?!?

Bowden Manufacturing AS9100

Our auditor is tough and our Quality Manager had never been through a full recertification audit. Not an ideal combination.

For years, starting back with ISO 9000 more than a decade ago before stepping up to AS9100, our Company has been certified for aerospace.

Our auditors have varied from aggressive to helpful and nit-picky to very cursory. From time to time, we’ve considered dropping our certification, wondering whether the time, effort, and dollars were worth it.

Here are 3 reasons we’d sign up again tomorrow:

  1. Challenges Drive Us Forward.

    Fresh off the audit last week, we’d admit to both loving and hating the experience! Almost like any hard workout or challenging task, the mix of feelings is remarkable. Rising to achieve a difficult task can bring a sense of fulfillment, and this year we felt that more strongly than most.

    With a young, smart Quality Manager willing to dig in ready to learn, we know it would be a great opportunity for growth, but having our Team embrace the challenge was tremendous to see a good reason to embrace AS9100.
  2. A Higher Purpose is Helpful.

    In the midst of the tiny details, it’s easy to lose perspective in the dotting of i’s and crossing of t’s. If we stay focused on our paperwork and the nit-picky aspects of the certification, it can become a slog.

    However, recognizing the bigger reason for paying close attention to details and building solid systems, i.e. supplying safe parts so we can fly on airplanes, brings home why our work matters.

    Most of us aspire to see other parts of the world and helping make sure that we can all travel safely through the air is something that reminds us we need to take this very seriously.
  3. The Process Forces Us to Consider Alternatives.

    We’ve all built systems in running our companies. The AS9100 certification process is designed to both make sure the systems conform to aerospace standards, and make sure they are being well-executed. Within that framework, there is surprisingly a lot of freedom.

    Without being forced to review our systems, the best case is that they would simply stay the same, but more likely they’d drift from their original intent.

    Adjusting to the evolution of the business can happen under normal circumstances, but it typically takes a forcing event or situation for movement in a positive direction.
    One of the best aspects of the AS9100 process is that it routinely forces us to ask some good questions:

    “Is this process still functioning properly?”
    “Is this process adding value to our organization?”
    “How can we make this clearer and easier to execute?”

    Without the regular audit cycle, we would be unlikely to ask those questions and the evolution of our system would be significantly slower. Despite the fact that our recertification audit is complete, the work, of course, isn’t done.

    Correcting some minor issues is underway and the longer term opportunities will take months to consider and implement.

    Certainly it wasn’t easy, nothing worthwhile ever is, and our Team did a great job working through it. Exciting to have us pushed to perform, reflect and improve.

    It’s rarely been so clear that the AS9100 certification process is worth the time, energy and money. Yes, we’ll stick with it for sure.