If you are a small business you might not consider ISO 9001 to be a priority for your business. After all, isn’t ISO 9001 something for big businesses with pernickety stakeholders and massive budgets?
In this article we are going to outline what ISO 9001 means for small businesses and why you should consider getting your enterprise certified today.
What is ISO 9001 and how can it benefit my small business?
ISO 9001 quality management system standard (QMS) is internationally recognised as the standard in quality management systems. These standards were developed to help organisations achieve a high standard of products and services that meet the needs of their customers and stakeholders.
ISO 9001 certification not only demonstrates to the market that you are serious about the quality of your products and services, it also helps you evaluate your business practices and find ways to improve.
What is ISO 9001 and where does it come from? What is the history of ISO 9001?
ISO 9001 is a set of quality management standards developed by the International Organization of Standardization (sic) (ISO). The International Organisation of Standardization was initially founded on February 23rd 1947 with the mission of promoting ‘worldwide proprietary, industrial and commercial standards.’ The organisation is currently centrally located in Geneva, Switzerland; however, they also work in 162 different countries across the globe.
The International Organisation of Standardization was one of the of the first organisations to be granted general consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
What is ISO 9001:2015 and how does it differ from ISO 9001:2008?
The first published copy of the ISO 9001 standards were released in 1987 and then later updated in 1994. Since 1994 ISO has undergone revisions in the years 2000 and 2008. The current version of the document is ISO 9001:2015. The next update is expected in 2020.
These standards are updated every five years in order to ensure that they remain relevant to the current global market. In the latest edition the standard has a renewed emphasis on the following key attributes:
- Emphasis on leadership
- Focus on risk management
- Increased emphasis on objective measurement
- Improving communication and awareness
- Less and simplified prescriptive requirements
The benefits of this regular updating, is that it allows businesses to be constantly reviewing the efficacy and management of their organisations.
What does the ISO 9001 quality management standard measure?
The ISO 9001 quality management standard can apply to many areas and industries, such as: manufacturing, processing, servicing, printing, forestry, electronics, steel, food processing, legal services, financial services, trucking, banking, retailing, drilling, recycling, aerospace, construction, exploration, textiles, pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, pulp and paper, publishing, petrochemicals, shipping, mining, energy, telecommunications, plastics, metals, research, health care, hospitality, utilities, aviation, machine tools, agriculture, government, education, recreation, tourism, fabrication, sanitation, software development, consumer products, transportation, instrumentation, computing, biotechnology, chemicals, consulting, insurance, and many, many more.
Within ISO documents there are two kinds of standards discussed; these can be divided into what are called ‘requirements’ and ‘guidelines’. Both of these standards combine to form what is known as the ‘ISO portfolio of quality management standards.
Some popular myths and misconceptions about ISO 9001
Unfortunately there are several misconceptions surrounding ISO 9001 that have permeated globally over the past 30 years. Many of these have led to a general confusion about what ISO 9001 generally means.
Below are some the top myths and misconceptions surround the ISO 9001 quality management standard.
The ISO 9001 is only for big businesses.
It does not matter what size your business is, there is value to be gotten from adhering to the standards outline in the ISO 9001 quality management standards document. Many small companies find that investing in ISO 9001 certification helps give their business a competitive edge, both practically and in terms of reputation.
In fact, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), have developed several resources specifically targeted towards small businesses.
The ISO 9001 is an outdated document from the late 1980s.
The first ISO 9001 document was published in 1987, however it is far from outdated. The quality management standards have changed radically over the past thirty years in order to adapt to the current global business environment.
The advancements in technology and global communication are two obvious areas where ISO 9001 has had to adapt rapidly. These changes are made every five years in order to make sure that the ISO 9001 does not become obsolete.
It is also important to note that the ISO 9001 standards have been specifically developed in order to make sure that the are not strict and can be easily applied to a variety of businesses and situations. This flexibility is one of the strongest attributes of the ISO 9001 quality management standards document. Instead of telling businesses what quality and customer needs are, they ask the businesses to define what those terms mean specifically for them within the context of their business.
ISO 9001 is a bureaucratic mess and is overly complicated for what it is.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of antagonism towards ISO 9001 and ISO 9001 certifiers from those that understand very little about it or what is there to achieve. However, for those who have gone through the process of ISO 9001 certification, they have found that the process has simplified their business, not complicated it.
The ISO 9001 quality management standards are founded on seven very simple, yet effective, principles. The latest version of the ISO 9001 quality management standards has been streamlined even further to allow businesses greater flexibility. This streamlining process has also helped simplify business practices and improve management structures.
Do not be deterred from ISO 9001 out of a fear of bureaucracy. If anything you will find that consulting with an ISO 9001 consultant may help your business immeasurably, and possibly remove some of that ‘messy’ or ‘complicated’ bureaucracy you are afraid of.
What does a small business have to gain from being ISO 9001 certified?
ISO 9001 quality management standards help small businesses address several quality management issues in a precise and measured fashion. ISO 9001 certification is not only good for improving the quality of your management systems, it also helps improve your reputation amongst consumers. Customers like to know that the companies that they invest in are likewise invested in maintaining the quality of the products and services.
Meeting and exceeding your customer’s expectations of your business.
Those businesses that have gone through with ISO 9001 certification have found demonstrable benefits from achieving accreditation through a professional ISO reviewer. In some cases, small businesses have been known to have missed out on contracts and opportunities to other equally qualified businesses due to certification.
Improving your brand’s equity amongst consumers and stakeholders
ISO 9001 certification has allowed over 1.1 million businesses across the globe to capitalise on their brand equity. Enhance reputation amongst consumers and stakeholders is one of the key benefits of ISO certification.
Saving money for your organisation and improving performance
Many businesses have found that they can save costs through the strict evaluation provided by ISO 9001 consultants. In the long term you may find that ISO certification is one the most financially savvy moves you could make for you business, especially if your business involves tough competition competing for the likes of government tenders.
Small businesses, even more so than multinationals, have the opportunity to benefit from ISO 9001 certification. By finding a good quality ISO 9001 consultant you can make sure that your business passes it’s accreditation the first time round.
During the process of improving your business you may find that there are several elements to your business you never thought of where you can improve management processes. Small businesses that undergo the process of ISO 9001 consultation find a direct improvement in the quality and standardization of the products and services.
These improvements also help to build your businesses’ reputation and help become more competitive in the market.
For more information on ISO 9001 we recommend you contact a qualified ISO 9001 provider. We recommend the services of Integrated Compliance Solutions, also known as ICS Consulting. They are located across Australia, and will be able to assist you in quality management standards related matters. Contact them today to start your journey towards a better and more streamlined business.