ISO 9001 is aninternational standard that specifies requirements to help businesses implement a Quality Management System (QMS). Businesses use the standardto demonstrate their ability to consistently provide products and services that meet customer and regulatory requirements.
Many Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) may mistakenly believe internationalstandards are only for big business and government bodies. Whereas, in fact, SMEs can also benefit from the technology and management practices, disseminated by these standards.
The most popular standard used today, ISO 9001, applies to any organisation, regardless of size or industry sector. According to a 2015 survey, more than one million organisations from more than 160 countries applied the requirements of ISO 9001 to their businesses and they found that using the ISO 9001 standard helped them to organise their processes, improve their efficiency and to continually improve operations.
Implementing the standard within your organisation means meeting a set of best-practice requirements, which will benefit to organisation. These principlesinclude Customer Focus, Engagement of People, Relationship management, Evidence based decision making, Process Approach, Leadership andImprovement. All ofwhich willhelpyou to manage your business more effectively and put in place best practice methodology, providing the foundations for better customer satisfaction, staff motivation and continual improvement.
It’s important to approach ISO 9001 implementation in a practical way, particularly for SMEs. Adopted processes and procedures shouldn’t be difficult for your employees to manage, but rather a set of working practices that improve the business and provide maximum benefit to the organisation. The ideal approach is to adapt existing procedures to meet the requirements of the standard, creatingmore efficient working practices that focus on the objectives of the organisation.
When implemented correctly, the ISO 9001 certification can help businesses to save time and money, improve efficiency and ultimately improve customer relationships. Here are the five key benefits of ISO 9001 certification for SMEs.
Improved staff morale
ISO 9001 certification requiressenior management to take responsibility for managingand communicating processes, roles and responsibilities across the organisation. An efficient management process supports staff and with proper processes in place, staff feel more at ease within their roles.Improving your processes and the way your organisation works will boost employee motivation. Replacing poor or perhaps even non-existent methods with functional processes invariably leads to a more confident and driven workforce. If staff are made aware of how quality and overall success depend on them, they will enjoy greater job satisfaction and motivation. Achieving certification is something to be proud of and should be celebrated. Involving staff throughout the process will ensure your business benefits from both the buy-in of the team and enhanced overall motivation.
ISO 9001 is an internationally recognised standard. Accredited certification therefore, ensures organisations meet a high level of quality. Many businesses apply for ISO 9001 certification because it can be a stipulation for public contracts. By asking for ISO 9001 from contractors, the public sector can prove it is spending tax payers’ money wisely. In this way, the certificate does the talking. Public sector bodies can rest assured that they won’t have to waste time checking an organisation’s credentials.
ISO 9001 can often be a requirement in the private sector too. If you’re applying to become part of a large supply chain, where the main contractor has ISO 9001 in place, then certification can be particularly pertinent. Many organisations, who originally attained ISO 9001 to qualify for work, are pleasantly surprised to discover the positive influence it can have on their organisation as a whole.
Enhanced operational efficiency
Organisations with ISO 9001 quickly discover huge benefits in terms of improved internal processes. Certification encourages the implementation of well-defined and documented procedures that improve the consistency of an organisation’s output. Practices that are obsolete or inefficient can be quickly identified and corrective action taken. Procedures will be put in place for when problems occur and over time, this enhanced efficiency leads to fewer mistakes. Successful implementation provides continuous assessment and improvement, resulting in a dramatic reduction in costly errors. Enhanced operational efficiency leads to less unnecessary work when delivering products or services, which, in turn, results in cost savings that boost your bottom line.
Improved customer satisfaction
An integral aspect of ISO 9001 is customer satisfaction. In addition to boosting business, the standard also focuses on the customer. By encouraging feedback and analysing it, the standard helps businesses to improve the quality of service, fostering a ‘right first time’ attitude. Over time, your organisation will incur fewer complaints and cultivate greater customer satisfaction.
Increased commitment from customers
ISO 9001 certification sends out an important message to customers. Achieving independent verification of your QMS demonstrates your organisation’s commitment to quality, customer service and continuous improvement.