We have had inquiries from a number of our clients regarding ISO Certification: what it stands for, how to achieve it and what it means to their particular business. In response to these inquiries, we have dealt exclusively with the Business Development Bank of Canada (“ BDC”) and, in particular, BDC’s Consulting Groups in both Mississauga and Halton Region. With their assistance, the following article is intended to help explain the significance of ISO Certification and what it can do for your business.
ISO is a series of quality management and assurance standards and guidelines, akin to a “seal of approval”. Businesses seeking to gain and maintain a competitive advantage in the global marketplace know that they need solutions of international caliber. One of these solutions is the ISO certification.
ISO certification confirms the consistency in the way that a company operates and delivers its products or services. This badge of excellence not only increases a company’s potential for international recognition but also helps the company meet requirements for inclusion on tender lists. Other benefits of ISO certification include improved efficiency in operations, reduced waste, consistent control of key processes, enhanced marketing appeal and the effective management of risk. All of these lead to improvement in a company’s bottom line.
Chris Secord, Manager of the BDC Consulting Group in Mississauga, advises that most companies initially undertake an ISO certification for external benefits. However, he adds, once they become involved in the process to achieve certification, they begin to see that the internal benefits far outweigh the external ones.
The most recent up-to-date version of the ISO quality management standard is known as “ISO 9001: 2000” which has been implemented by more than 400,000 organizations worldwide. It improves upon the previous standard, set in 1994, and known as “ISO 9000”. The new standard is simpler, easier to use and more focused on customer satisfaction. With ISO 9001: 2000, companies can implement a quality management system that moulds itself to their business rather than having to re-design the business to meet the standard.
According to Roger Hall, Manager of the BDC Group in Halton, the philosophy behind ISO is actually very simple: documenting what you do on a day-to-day basis in the operation of your business allows you to analyze, and then improve upon, the various processes and procedures, currently in place.
Certification is not achieved overnight. In order to meet the standards for certification, a substantial amount of work is required to be done. Accordingly, most companies retain consultants to assist in analyzing, and then properly documenting, their processes and procedures. The BDC consultants work closely with a business and its employees to guide them through each stage of the certification process with a hands-on approach, tailored to meet each client’s specific needs.
The first step in the process involves an examination and analysis of a company’s existing management systems and procedures. Then, with senior management endorsement and a team in place to oversee and implement the process, a determination is made as to what is needed to meet the ISO 9001: 2000 standards. Plans are then developed to implement the changes necessary to improve the company’s quality management systems and procedures. These changes are then documented, made available to all employees in the organization, implemented and finally, audited. Once all of these steps have been completed, the business is in a position to apply for ISO 9001: 2000 certification. Application is made to a registrar officially accredited by the Standards Council of Canada.
Chris Secord recommends implementing procedures that are able to be continually improved upon and adapted to changing needs and circumstances. The BDC’s emphasis on product realization and customer satisfaction leads to enhanced performance and greater efficiency which ultimately results in world-wide recognition of a commitment to quality. This, adds Mr. Secord, allows a company to compete in any market-place anywhere in the world.
If you would like further information on the ISO Certification process, you can contact Chris Secord in Mississauga at 905-803-7927 or Roger Hall in Halton at 905-315-9252.