As a company that has been helping clients to implement practical business systems over a number of years, we have come across many arguments for and against the adoption of management system standards.
Even the reasons for adopting standards, such as ISO 9001, may not be very convincing. Three common reasons are:
- We have to do it because our larger customers insist on us having it in order to do business with them
- We must do it because the customer (apparently) wants it
- We must do it to meet regulatory or product compliance obligations
In each case there is a sense of need rather than want and in our experience this often translates into the way that the standards are implemented. Often ‘owners’ of such management systems, rather than seeing it as the way they will run the business, ‘leave it to old George’ to do, while I get on with the real business. Implementation projects often run out of steam or take too long and become excessively expensive. It becomes hard work for the business and for us as consultants.
Contrast this with business leaders, who may have started out with scepticism but have worked out the business case for implementing the standard(s) and the value of doing so for the business, its customers and other stakeholders. Implementation in these companies is taken seriously, generally with more staff involvement, and delivers a better result. The upside for us is that we are able to deliver more value to our clients and take them further towards their business growth objectives – and it’s more fun for us.
Sadly, whether the business has just gained a ‘badge on the wall’ or has greatly improved business practices, is not differentiated by independent third party certification. Purchasers may not be able tell the difference between a company whose management system is a secret between the administrator and the external auditor from one that truly manages the business and controls the quality of products and services.
Under the recent ISO 9001: 2015 business leaders are expected to get involved in the system and take responsibility for its implementation, effectiveness and improvement. So what should you look for in return?
Commonly cited operational benefits include:
- Compliance with regulations
- All aspects of the business regularly monitored
- Potential risks and opportunities identified
- Opportunities to reassess ways of working and to introduce ‘best practices’
- Roles and responsibilities clearly identified and understood
- Provides assurance and instils confidence in your customers
But as a business owner/ manager you will also want to identify tangible benefits to the business itself, including:
- A more effective business – where practice supports mission, objectives and brand
- A more efficient business – with reduced waste and lower costs
- A more compliant business – with standards being met that have been set by the business itself, in addition to legal requirements
- A more integrated business – providing improved process control and productivity
- A more resilient business – which can cope with change and adapt with continuous innovation
The introduction of ISO 9001: 2015 presents an opportunity to reassess the way you run your business and ensure that your business management system really adds value and is not just an expense providing no real return.
Business Keys Limited –helping managers improve the way they run their businesses