While it is often viewed as a tool for larger, more established companies, ISO 9001 certification actually has an equal power to boost the performance of small businesses as well as start-up ventures. Here’s how:
Proving experience and competence in today’s competitive marketplace can often be a struggle. With an increasing reliance on testimonials, word of mouth referrals and social proof, how can a start-up demonstrate its ability to consistently deliver products or services in a customer-centric manner?
ISO 9001 is a customer-focused management system with one of it’s 7 fundamental principles being dedicated to customers and their experience. The ISO 9001 Standard encourages this focus through helping organisations put in place processes to help them understand their customer needs, through to gathering their feedback and ensuring you have a documented and effective complaints procedure for if the worst happens. These processes can even be applied to business contacts and suppliers, helping you to work together more efficiently.
Through ISO 9001 certification you can show potential buyers that your business has what it takes to consistently meet and even exceed their demands.
Through promotion of the organisation’s ISO certification, start-ups tend to grow more rapidly, because more customers are attracted to the business. Holding the certificate answers many questions relating to how the organisation operates, and also improves credibility and image in the market place.Chris Tuffrey, Regional Manager at QMS International
One of the biggest struggles start-ups face is establishing efficient processes. At the early stages, the focus can be more focused on getting the job done, rather than how well or efficient the journey to “done” is.
ISO 9001 can help with this, by encouraging businesses to document their processes, observe them in action and make improvements. While this might seem like a large amount of effort to accomplish in the early days of the business, the rewards in improved efficiency together with the ability to offer accurate delivery metrics to customers are immeasurable, and can form the cornerstone of long-standing business relationships.
Implementing structured processes and procedures as part of the ISO 9001 system, right from the word go, can improve planning, administration and communication activities throughout the company. This in turn can help the organisation achieve a consistent delivery of the product or service they provide to customers. Organisations identify defects in their processes and procedures earlier and ensure corrective actions are implemented as to prevent them happening again.Chris Tuffrey, Regional Manager at QMS International
For start-ups, change is a certainty and how your business adapts to that change can mean the difference between success and failure. With ISO 9001, the ability to adapt to change is built in, from making sure you have the right resources available, to ensuring that any changes are incorporated into your business processes (and the appropriate documentation updated accordingly).The Plan Do Check Act (PDCA) cycle, on which ISO 9001 is based, will also assist with managing change in your business. PDCA puts businesses in a great mind-set for adapting to change. It means that plans are put in place, including assessing the risks of both the plan and the change, and that the results of those plans are analysed to see if they were successful as well as what else can be done to improve those results.
Pre-qualification for tenders
Larger corporations and public organisations want you to be able to prove that you have an efficient service delivery structure in place to cope with the demands of a larger working agreement. Because of this, ISO 9001 is often a pre-requisite for such applications.
For many start-up businesses, particularly those that are providing niche services, ISO 9001 will provide you with the credentials needed to win those larger contracts.
Start-up businesses who are looking to gain work through tenders or win projects from large customers may find that by having ISO 9001 their chances of winning work is increased.Chris Tuffrey, Regional Manager at QMS International
Gear up for growth
Strangely enough, the one circumstance that many start-up companies are least prepared for is one they desire the most: success.
When the workload becomes too much to handle there are two options; turn work away or grow. ISO 9001 helps your business set realistic goals and expand by ensuring you have well-defined processes in place. These will help you identify where any pinch points may come from and enable you to take on new business, while reacting accordingly.
ISO 9001 can also help businesses repeat their successes by analysing why and how they happened. This process of continual improvement is integral to the Standard and encouraged in all areas, allowing the formation of a staff culture that is focused on learning from and getting the best out of every situation.
Whilst ISO 9001 may seem like a time-intensive process, it is always beneficial to weigh up the pros and cons before dismissing it as too much effort (besides, it probably doesn’t take as long as you think). If you believe your start-up is going to be successful and will expand over time, then the money and time savings that certification will give you in the future is more than worth the significantly smaller investment of your resources today.
Originally published on Wednesday, August 24th, 2016