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ISO Certification Offers Profit Improvement

Your Small to Mid-Sized Service or Manufacturing business will achieve greater profits by becoming certified to ISO9001 standards. Although ISO has been around since the late 1940’s, many smaller U.S.-based companies have not embraced certification as a business advantage. Unlike in other parts of the world, many customers have not insisted on ISO certification as a prerequisite for qualification as a vendor. If your industry is increasingly competitive, hit by a recession, or your company is exploring new markets, ISO certification offers much.

What Is ISO?

ISO is taken from a Greek word meaning “equal”. It was chosen as a name (not an acronym) by the International Organization for Standardization, based in Switzerland. Any acronym would differ from country to country, based on language, so a name was chosen instead.

Although there are thousands of specific ISO standards, only a few are generic, and applicable to virtually all businesses. This discussion is focused on ISO9001. It’s concern is Quality Management. In brief, certification to ISO9001 connotes that a company conducts its business operations to a set of procedures, documents that it does so, and further has processes in place to correct defects caused both through following the procedure (bad process) and through not following the procedure (bad control). It does not address the worthiness of those procedures as to impact on the “goodness” or effectiveness of the end product or service. This has been a common excuse for companies not to opt for the certification.

Significant Pieces

The major components of an ISO9001-compliant Quality Management System (QMS) are:

  • Management Commitment and Responsibility for the QMS

  • Resource Management, including people, facilities, and equipment

  • Product Realization, covering how new products and services are developed and verified before being offered for sale

  • Measurement, analysis, and improvement (of processes and their outputs)

Benefits For Customer Relations and Sales

Increasingly, American suppliers are obtaining ISO9001 certification. If your company is not compliant, new customers usually have plenty of other new vendors to choose from. Why raise the question?

Some customer organizations recognize an up-to-date ISO9001 certification as sufficient evidence of a robust Quality Assurance system, and may forego the time and expense, to you and them, of a formal vendor qualification process, including audits.

If you have multiple locations, serving multi-location customers, they can be assured that the product or service provided by your company is consistently supplied to the same procedures for all their facilities.

Benefits For Operations and Cost Improvement

​Working to standard procedures reduces dependence on individual employees who may hold key work approaches “close to the vest”. This increases flexibility in assigning personnel to jobs. Preparing procedures also provides a convenient set of training materials, necessary for cross-training existing employees, and bringing new employees up to speed.

You will collect statistically significant data on quality issues, guiding you to focus improvement on consistent problem areas, rather than those that may be due to random variation, or to the “squeaky wheel syndrome”.

A Quality Management System requires you to dedicate time to evaluate and train your employees in their work tasks.

A QMS requires you to assess the condition of your facility and equipment, and take steps to make sure that they are always in good condition to provide the services required of them.

If you have, or plan to embrace a Process Improvement Methodology, such as Lean Manufacturing, Six Sigma, or Theory of Constraints, you first must have the standardized procedures and stable processes that will result from a properly implemented QMS.

A case can be made, and even supported by the governing body for ISO, for the benefits of ISO9001 implementation even without certification. Paying an independent company to audit, certify, and register your company as ISO9001-certified can prove to be expensive. But after going through the effort of improving operations to the point where they can be certified, and not doing so, leaves out the great marketing value that such certification can provide.

How Can We Help?

The Operations Group is experienced with both creating company-specific ISO9001 QMS programs, as well as auditing to assure compliance. Contact us to discuss how to get started.

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