Why ISO? 5 key benefits of a quality management system
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Achieving an ISO quality management certification can pay huge dividends for your business in improved efficiency, productivity and customer satisfaction.
But the benefits of ISO go far beyond your operations to every aspect of the business, including sales and marketing, strategic planning and employee engagement.
ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is an independent, non-governmental organization that develops standards to ensure the quality, safety and efficiency of products, services and systems.
It requires you to set clear objectives for your business, standardize processes and explain them to your employees.
Mohamud has advised many entrepreneurs in the Toronto area on getting their business ISO certified. She shared five key benefits she sees companies reap from achieving and maintaining an ISO certification.
1. Identify risks and opportunities
The best way to deal with quality issues is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. To achieve this goal, ISO 9001—the popular quality management standard—asks you to identify potential risks to your business and control them in a structured way. This risk-based thinking leads to fewer surprises, improved planning, more effective decision-making and better relationships with suppliers, customers and employees.
“We sit down and think about the things that have gone wrong historically,” Mohamud says. “And we try to prevent those things from happening. It allows you to reduce the likelihood of things going wrong in the first place.”
At the same time, ISO asks you to look for opportunities for your business and consider how to take advantage of them in an organized fashion.
2. Prevent problems from reoccurring
Too often businesses repeat the same mistakes because they don’t have a system to record and correct problems as they occur. ISO requires you to maintain careful records of problems, seek out their root causes and come up with lasting solutions. The result is less waste, better quality and lower costs.
“There’s so much waste that comes from rework and defective products and services that could be prevented,” Mohamud says. “With ISO, you figure out what the problem is and correct it. You also make it part the organization’s knowledge so you prevent it from reoccurring.”
3. Boost your marketing and sales efforts
Just think of how many times you’ve seen companies promote their ISO certification in advertising, on their website and even on a banner outside their building. As an internationally recognized quality management system, achieving ISO certification will support your marketing and help increase your sales. Indeed, many large companies require their suppliers to be ISO certified. And certification can be particularly important if you want to enter foreign markets.
“We see a lot of SMEs that want to grow and sell outside of Canada, and they’re almost always asked to have ISO 9001 and any industry specific ISO standard,” Mohamud says.
4. Improve employee performance
Employee morale improves when they know you are committed to eliminating waste and producing the highest quality products and services. ISO also requires you define tasks (who does what), eliminate skills gaps in your business and communicate your quality policies to employees.
“When things are not done in an organized fashion, we see a lot of confusion and doubt for the employees,” Mohamud says. “With ISO, you’re giving people the comfort of a framework in which they can succeed. You’re giving them the tools, the resources, the training to do their jobs well. When it’s organized people are going to be happier and they’re going to want to do better.”
5. Improve your control over the business
ISO requires you monitor, measure, analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of your quality management system. By doing so, you will generate performance metrics that allow you to judge how well you’re doing and where you need to improve. These are powerful tools for gaining insight into your business and make better decisions.
“As an entrepreneur, it helps you to get the full picture and then say: Maybe, we need to drill down in more detail to find out where we need to focus our improvement efforts.
Besides creating a stronger, more efficient and productive company today, ISO can also make your business more attractive to buyers when it comes time for you to sell, Mohamud says.
“You are demonstrating your commitment to an effective management approach with quality at its heart to your suppliers, your customers, your shareholders and potentially a company that wants to buy you.”