What Small Businesses Need to Know About ISO Certification

ISO 9001 is a quality management standard many larger companies and successful organizations strive to meet. Essentially, it helps a business better serve and satisfy customers, while also complying with regulatory limitations regarding information.

Due to the nature of the ISO certification, many fall into the line of thinking it’s for larger enterprises and corporate businesses only. That’s a terrible thing to believe, because in reality, ISO certification can help small businesses just as much. In fact, the standards help businesses of all sizes, not just beyond a particular level.

This misconception becomes even more exacerbated once you start digging into the many resources, blogs and guides surrounding ISO certification and related audits. The perception of what’s required to pass an ISO audit is much different than the reality.

Some of the common phrases you’ll hear include:

  • ISO is just too complicated or confusing for smaller businesses.
  • ISO certification doesn’t improve quality.
  • ISO tacks on a lot of additional paperwork and responsibility.
  • ISO is unmanageable for SMB without expert help or third-party support.
  • ISO was never meant for SMB in the first place.

Some of these misguided opinions also come from professionals who have worked with ISO certification and audit procedures in the past. They might have come from a larger organization, for example, and gleaned a lot of what they know through rumors and colleague speak.

Most of it is dead wrong, however. ISO certification and ISO 9001 standards can be incredibly helpful for any business, big or small. Furthermore, it can help create a better environment, more efficient processes and deliver improved experiences for your customers.

 

How? Let’s take a closer look.

Certifications for Qualification

Because ISO certifications are so coveted and reliable, you’ll find many contractors tend to accept only those that boast its support. In fact, the list of organizations that only accept bids from ISO-certified parties is growing more each day.

Without delving into the endless list of reasons why ISO is in such high esteem, it’s enough to consider you might lose a contract or even the chance to bid because you lack such credentials. In that same vein, it provides an edge over competitors who are not certified, so it’s a solid bargaining chip, too.

Your Customers Will Approve

One of the most touted and crucial benefits of ISO certification is that it helps you strive for customer satisfaction. That alone means you will be better prepared and suited for dealing with and meeting customer expectations.

Many descriptions of the standard sound rather vague. ISO 9001 expressly requires any company to monitor and review information that relates to customer perception, expectations and satisfaction. This forms the basis for customer requirements under the standard, though keep in mind it does not specify how to achieve it.

What that means is it’s up to you to come up with a strategy for assessing and ensuring customer satisfaction. You are more inclined to focus on this element regarding all business processes and decisions. You can, for instance, regularly conduct customer surveys, review complaints and experience forums, or collect additional performance data related to sales or returns.

Whatever you choose or deploy, the key point is that you’re working toward an optimized customer experience and delivery process, which your customers will most certainly approve of.

Operations Efficiency Boost

Efficiency is one of the most powerful elements any small business can strive for. As long as you’re efficient and focused, you can do just as much as a larger organization, if not more. That includes being smart with your manpower, time and effort.

Running an ISO-compliant system means managing your efficiency, resources and operations for optimal savings. In turn, this affords you the opportunity to roll the additional resources and components you gain from conservation into other areas of your business. In other words, if you find a better way to use resources you’ve been wasting on a particular process, you then have them free and clear to allot elsewhere.

More importantly, ISO compliance requires you to properly assess your current operations to come up with more appropriate use of your resources, and also dictates ways in which you can use the knowledge to establish better, more realistic predictions.

In short, ISO compliance can give even your small business or organization the efficiency boost it needs.

You Are Working with Facts and Realistic Data

Instantly, the move to ISO compliance teaches you to work with facts and real data, as opposed to emotions. You don’t realize how much you’ve relied on those two human traits until you shift away from them.

When you go with your gut feeling, you’re taking an inherent risk, because you’re not acting on tangible information or proof. The gamble can translate to poor or inefficient practices over time. ISO not only teaches you, but helps establish and develop a system where you can reference facts before taking action.

Want to Grow? ISO Certification Is the Way

Despite common misconceptions, ISO certification and ISO 9001 are highly beneficial for all businesses, even smaller teams. If you have any plans to grow or improve efficiency, ISO certification is the natural way forward.

No matter the financial cost or physical effort, the benefits will far outweigh the journey to get there.

Editor of Finding an Outlet, Nathan Sykes writes about the latest in emerging technologies and their impact on business. To read more posts by Nathan, follow him on Twitter @nathansykestech.

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