ISO9001: Route to Agile and Resilient Business?

By Elizabeth Pearce, Director, EJP Limited

ISO9001 is an internationally recognised Quality Management Standard which forms the basis of a Continuous Improvement System.
If done properly, the time invested in implementing ISO9001 is worthwhile, and results in helping a business to become both Agile and Resilient- something we all need today.
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ISO9001: Route to Agile and Resilient Business?

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However, many take a wrong approach and consequently see lots of investment and not much in the way of return.

Five reasons why wrongly implementing ISO9001 costs more than it saves:

1. Not setting clear, achievable, and easily measured objectives:

  • Setting annual objectives – good intentions but without structure and follow up they will never happen
  • If objectives are not realistic or achievable, they will fail, and everybody will feel like they have failed too
  • Firefighting – allowing the daily routine of firefighting to get in the way
  • Directors not having a clear picture or understanding of how the business “fits” together and subsequently which objectives need to be a priority

Costs: Business stands still, another year passes without that project being delivered, potential loss of staff through growing frustrations. Costs of recruitment and of “fixing” things continues to grow

Missed Opportunity: Chance to bring clear focus to business strategy and to ensure that strategy identified is actually achieved. Ultimately leads to making the business more agile and able to react quickly to any changes thrown at it.

2. Lack of senior management ownership

  • Appointment of Quality Manager/team left on their own to build the system from bottom up
  • No Leadership focus or risk assessment leaves the business in danger of sticking plaster solutions.
  • Lack of visible support from senior management so why should the team take it seriously
  • Lack of investment in training and proposed investment in the business to make the system work effectively

Costs: Part implemented systems will never reduce quality costs. i.e. real problems not being solved fully and left to risk of recurrence. Continuous improvement is never achieved. Staff time spent fixing things including customer relations and the risk of losing customers. Even if you simply apply the measure of quality cost as double the value of the order concerned it soon mounts to a considerable sum off the bottom line.

Missed Opportunity: A senior leadership team working collaboratively to a common and mutually agreed goal.

3. Insufficient training and levels of communication

  • There are several key aspects of ISO9001 that require investment in training especially Non-conformance management, when this training is not undertaken none of the benefits of continuous improvement will be achieved.
  • Training is also needed in Internal auditing, when auditing becomes a “tick box” exercise it loses impact and becomes a waste of time and resource.
  • It takes time to communicate the benefits of such a system and what is being done/changed to achieve certification. Where this is not done properly the team do not “sign up” to the work or the culture.
  • Communication is the life blood of such systems and when it fails the implementation stalls. The team will not understand the powerful potential for the business and consequently will not support it.

Costs: Time and money spent developing processes and procedures and creating records which do not deliver potential results. A half-hearted system which will be ignored by most of the team.

Missed opportunity: A cohesive team who understand where the business is going and committed to making it happen. Building a culture of continuous improvement and resilience

4. Lack of process maps- falling between cracks

  • ISO9001 has moved away from bottom up procedures and heavily documented processes. Systems built with endless and heavily documented procedures end up propping doors open and add little or no value to the business.
  • In most businesses’ communication breaks down between different sections of the business and frequently at this point a blame culture exists. Process mapping helps to address this by following the “flow” of the process.
  • People may all speak the same language (or not as the case may be) but levels of misunderstanding are often still high and very costly as jobs simply do not get done properly
  • Instructions which come in from the customer (including changes) need to be passed safely all through the different section of the business. Without clear processes and defined responsibilities this cannot happen effectively

Cost: Incorrect orders and subsequent quality costs, blame culture across the business so the real and actual cause of the problem is never identified or solved.

Missed opportunity: Clarity across the business in terms of process and responsibilities, reduction in customer complaints and reduction in rework. Lowering operational costs

5. Lack of time investment

  • “Time to think, Time to lead”- how many of us get this clear-thinking time which is so essential to careful planning?
  • Monitoring of activity is critical to ensure that things get done and completed, often the intent is there but without monitoring things which go wrong errors are unseen until it is often too late to deal with them.
  • Coaching and mentoring are a major part of such an implementation to ensure the team are “on board”, Champions can be found through the business who can help with this
  • Time taken to develop and sign off process maps ensure the right levels of understanding and communication. Without review and sign off the process maps and their inaccuracies will only add to things going wrong.

Cost: Building a system that neither reflects nor helps the business i.e. investment wasted.

Missed opportunities: Getting communication right, onboarding the team, and evolving a cohesive system that delivers both agility and resilience.

This is definitely not a quick fix but is a sound framework on which to build the future of a business.

For further information contact Elizabeth Pearce on 07365 517481 or  ejp@ejplimited.co.uk or visit the website  www.ejplimited.co.uk

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