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Why have an ISO system

ISO Standards / Thursday 30th of June 2016

In today’s fast moving, technology savvy business environment, a standard that describes your company operations may seem a bit archaic, so does it still resonate with business owners and company directors?

Back in the early part of the 20th Century, when production needed high levels of standardisation to ensure that the munitions being used in battle were going to be compatible with the guns that they were fired from, the use of standards developed.

Equally, with the development of mass produced cars and production lines in manufacturing, the need for every part to fit on every assembly was paramount. Time was money, and time taken if the production line stopped meant losses. Still does.

Whilst the same can be said today for products, and increasingly services too, the need for standards persists, but does the same need to apply in standardisation of how the wider company actually operates? A voxpop would probably says not, given that huge wealth is being generated from tech-savvy entrepreneurs using tablets and phones in their bedrooms.

What good then, can be achieved by an organisation committing itself to achieving a standard? Surely, if a company is making money and continuing to satisfy its customers, then that should be good enough.

But, and it is a big but; the adoption of ISO standards continues to be very high, as the economies of the world continue to open up and market access changes, businesses are hungry to demonstrate their compliance to a standard. And customers are demanding it.

The most obvious benefit is therefore, that a company can demonstrate compliance to a series of requirements. In a business to business environment, the need for good relationships is critical if both parties are to succeed. Send your client a certificate with ISO 9001, and in the blink of an eye, they should be satisfied that your business has controls over its production, its services and ensures that the people are doing the right thing. The same applies to specific standards on environment, OHS and of increasing interest, Information Security (ISO27001).

But, not all stakeholders are customers though, so how can certification to a standard assure the local population or a regulator that you are doing the right thing? In ISO speak, these are Interested Parties.

ISO standards now expect you to go beyond the product or service that you are offering and the procedures in place to get you there. Clauses now demand that an organisation assesses the context (business environment) that it operates in. For example, if the business is situated close to housing, and operates machinery, it will need to ensure that its operation does not affect its neighbours.  But then, being a good neighbour makes sense.

Beyond this, is there an even more subtle benefit though to seeking certification to ISO standards?

Our experience of working with many organisations has found that actually, business and operational processes that you set up achieve far more than they are originally intended to. The secret doesn’t necessarily lie in the process either, it lies in that people start working together in an organised, coherent and productive manner.

Many organisations do what they do, because they’ve always done it. Some may continue the same practices for years without challenging what they do. People join the organisation, do the work and leave, others join and do the same. The drive to develop a process of working that is open and accountable may initially seem hard, but even in the smallest of businesses, the effects can be huge.

In an organisation, big or small, the presence of a well operated and resourced management system, externally verified, will help give you and your employees a framework to acknowledge and make changes when needed, to improve and to engage. Put simply, just better business.

If you are already certified or on track to get there, you will appreciate the work involved, but the benefits that are achievable. And congratulations. If you are thinking about becoming certified, get professional assistance (preferably us)!