Often, when I meet people for the first time and explain that I’m a quality and safety consultant I get a blank look when I mention quality. People understand the need for safety and that it’s a legal requirement, but very often they don’t appreciate the importance of quality management or the role it plays in business development.
Well established companies may choose to implement ISO9001 for sound business reasons – to create a structure to the way they work, to provide ground rules for staff so that everyone works in a defined method, to put a stake in the ground to determine the current methods and to identify improvement opportunities, to obtain external certification of the process, and to provide a competitive edge particularly during a tendering process. These are all very good reasons for implementing a quality management system.
For small or young companies the concept and language can seem quite alien and the prospect of implementing such a system quite daunting. So what is the point for a growing company?
Q. Why ISO 9001?
A. ISO 9001 is an ideal management system standard for organisations that have a need to consistently meet demanding customer and regulatory standards. The standard is based around the principles of customer satisfaction, continual improvement and the development of a process-based quality management system.
Q. What are the benefits?
A. Although not referenced in the standard itself the ISO 9001 document is underpinned by eight key quality management principles:
- a customer-focused organisation;
- leadership; the involvement of people;
- ensuring a process approach;
- a systematic approach to management;
- a factual approach to decision-making;
- mutually beneficial supplier relations;
- and continual improvement.
Q. Does the standard improve business opportunities?
A. The standard provides a level playing field in the market for large and small organisations alike. The standard also stresses the need for continual improvement to help the organisation at the cutting edge of the market. All of the requirements of ISO 9001 are in some way focused towards meeting and exceeding the customer’s expectations – for example, the requirement of management to determine and communicate the importance of customer requirements throughout the organisation, and the review of customer orders to ensure that they can be met.
Q. What if I’m not ready for ISO9001?
A. It is a recognised fact that any company, regardless of size, will benefit from having clear procedures in place. If you are E-myth fan you won’t need any convincing from me! When defining the structure for a documented system, even if the intention is to achieve ISO9001 in two, three or four years time, significant time can be saved by using the ISO9000 model as the structure for your system.
At Stepping Stones for Business we help small companies define their processes and help them to create structure on the road to ISO9001. For larger companies with mature systems in place, we help them to achieve ISO9001 and work with them to maintain the standard. If you would like more information please contact us.