ISO certification signifies adherence to quality standards and processes. However, getting certified requires substantial financial resources, something that is not easy to do when you're a startup.
Quality management is an essential organizational tool that can readily empower small businesses and allow them to thrive amidst the cut-throat competition. While there are quite a few quality management options available, nothing beats ISO certification in terms of credibility. Moreover, ISO is one standard that brings substantial levels of validation for businesses, thereby making way for increased productivity and efficiency.
However, before starting a discussion about the role of ISO certification from an entrepreneurial point of view, it is necessary to enlist the existing advantages that come with an efficient quality management tool, like the ISO. That said, while ISO certification gives an edge to the concerned businesses over the existing competitors, these validations are also potent marketing tools as they assure customers that the concerned firms follow the highest quality specifications and standards, at all times.
Getting ISO certification: How startups can approach the process
For small businesses, ISO certification is the basic foundation that signifies improvement. However, businesses must understand that getting ISO certified requires substantial resources and financial backing, precisely during the initial stage of the process approach. Therefore, before we start talking about the perks of an ISO certification, it is necessary to ascertain the process, in a step-pronged manner.
Part 1: Understanding the process
Before considering ISO certification, a startup or rather any small business must see whether the workforce and the hierarchy are ready to embrace this Quality Management System. Therefore, a process approach needs to be formulated which should focus on offering consistent services and products.
Part 2: Create the P-D-C-A model
ISO certification seems to be a long shot for companies that have just started. Therefore, before even considering this pathway and the costs associated with the same, it is important to concentrate on a more cohesive "Plan, Do, Check and Act" Model which would then empower the entire workforce towards achieving newer heights. This model makes sure that instead of spending frivolously on the ISO tag; businesses can first fix the planning, action adjustment, and monitoring deficiencies for overall growth.
Part 3: Keep learning
Needless to say, an ISO certification would only give you a tag that shows and acknowledges improvement. However, a startup must first consider learning the tricks of the trade, including the techniques to amplify sales, better monitoring strategies, and more. While the ISO 9001 tag can be a blessing, a company must learn to work and progress without the same.
Usually, small business setups are hard-pressed for resources, at least during the formative years. This is where discretion is necessary and one shouldn't immediately jump onto the ISO bandwagon m just for the sake of it. Therefore, following the aforementioned steps can allow businesses to create a decent and sustainable premise before looking for the ISO tag.
ISO certification: Enlisting the benefits
ISO certification isn't something that needs to be restricted to corporate setups and large-sized businesses. Here are some of the immediate advantages that come into the scheme of things, especially for smaller and medium-sized businesses.
- Improved understanding of customer requirements
- Enhanced cohesion with the suppliers
- Better performance and improved employee participation
- Helps offer better training opportunities to employees
- Improves organizational communication
- Speeds up problem identification and mitigation
The best thing about getting an ISO certification is that almost 98 % of the certified companies have already identified the potential of this tool besides considering this as a great business investment.
Advantages of ISO certification
While we already have tabulated the generic perks of an ISO certification, here are the more pronounced and the direct advantages of the same:
Certification promotes better practices.
Proximity with an ISO certification makes sure that small and medium-sized businesses get to learn about the best industrial and entrepreneurial practices. Needless to say, international quality management systems like ISO aren't just tools for comparing features and facilities but also suitable for allowing businesses to recognize the best strategies for growth. Be it standards pertaining to food and information security, ISO certification offers a set of ideas and strategies to businesses for further improving their modus operandi.
It helps improve organizational productivity.
Certification makes way for improved productivity as it allows businesses to adhere to specific organizational standards besides closely monitoring the existing processes, in the best possible manner. For smaller organizations, ISO certification means looking closely at the existing set of industrial definition and documentation while ascertaining the existing objectives for measuring overall progress. This validates the fact that certification and quality management systems are necessary for building a lean, healthy, and increasingly productive business.
It keeps customers happy.
ISO certification renders credibility to an organization which in turn plays a major role in keeping the customers happier. Quality management standards like ISO improve the complaint management segment of a business besides making way for better quality control and monitoring of client satisfaction. Certification, like ISO, can ensure that there is a massive decrease in the number of customer complaints which eventually keeps them happier for longer periods.
It may help improve revenue.
Based on extensive analysis concerning more than 92 studies, almost three companies out of five have seen significant growth in their bottom-line once they have an ISO certification in place. Moreover, Nguyen Viet Tiep, Director, ISO CERT VN, also believes the ISO is an essential organizational tool that helps increase overall revenue, quite significantly. That said, the revenue generation for ISO-certified firms, according to Viet Tiep is way higher as compared to the non-certified organizations. Another aspect that needs to be ascertained is that the revenue amplification isn't just a one-time effort and needs to be sustained throughout the subsequent recertification audits. This means ISO certification is a great investment that increases the organizational revenue but the process needs to be a continued and sustained one.
It can open new doors.
Once a business acquires an ISO certification, it opens up indefinitely to the newer markets. For example, ISO 9000 certification involving quality management, if and when acquired, can open a door to opportunities for government contracts. Needless to say, most government projects require companies to adhere to specific standards, which is only possible through ISO certification. Apart from that, getting orders from a larger company or even an invitation to be a part of a massive commercial project is also possible with an ISO certification at the helm. Last but not least, ISO is an internationally recognized quality standard that might also bring in opportunities for international projects and related markets.
Certification fosters improved team commitment.
If and when the company acquires ISO certification, the entire workforce gets a sense of acknowledgment which is infectious and extremely encouraging at times. This way, it becomes easier to get hold of a more productive workforce that's engaged and motivated at the same time. Moreover, certified businesses also fare better in terms of job satisfaction and overall turnover of employees; thereby minimizing the instances of absenteeism. Once a small or medium-sized business acquires the relevant certification, it becomes easier for the employees and managers to communicate with ease and significant levels of precision. Most importantly, getting certified motivates almost everyone in the organizational hierarchy which in turn fosters better team commitment and makes room for consistency.
It applies to diverse organizations.
Quality management certification like an ISO tag applies to diverse organizations, regardless of the size and spread of the same. Therefore, if and when an organization gets certified, it becomes eligible for better supply chain standards which eventually make room for increased popularity. Therefore, not just the corporate houses but even smaller setups can immensely benefit from the ISO certification.
Certification can increases business efficiency.
A small or even a medium-sized business makes better use of resources once it gets the ISO certification. Once resources are judiciously used, it becomes easier to reallocate the same to the diverse aspects of businesses which in turn improved organizational and business efficiency.
It helps the business make decisions based on facts.
Firstly, ISO certification automatically qualifies the business as a credible one which then takes all the feelings and emotions out of contention. The business, therefore, relies completely on facts and this is when it becomes easier to rely on figures, stats, and other resources for predicting outcomes.
ISO certification for startups: Necessity or fad?
When asked personally, I wouldn't consider ISO as the most important tool for startups as they can succeed even without the same. However, ISO certification is necessary in the long run as it comes with a host of reputational benefits. There are certain contracts and situations which non-certified firms cannot be a part of and this where the ISO tag comes in as an important cog in the entrepreneurial wheel.
ISO certification is one entrepreneurial elixir that needs to be on the priority list of every organization, regardless of the nature and size of the business. Moreover, despite there being quite a few quality management systems in play; it is the ISO certification that renders adequate levels of credibility to the concerned business. Therefore, if you ever see a business owner weighing the pros and cons of an ISO certification, ask him or her to blindly rely on this quality management tool for improving business efficiency and productivity, in the most significant manner.