Importance of having standards to improve quality in an SME

Publish on: 05 Oct 2015

ISO 9001:2015?

Many companies implement quality standards to ensure that their operations are as efficient as possible. In Mauritius we find that in most cases it is mainly large companies which are internationally certified (ISO) and ensure a competitive advantage on the market.  The question to be asked is how to encourage middle and small companies to implement standards so that they can be more efficient and achieve the same world-class quality management as larger companies (be internationally recognized). The motivating factors for the SMEs to implement quality standards are.

Cost savings - to optimize operations and therefore improve the bottom line.

Enhanced customer satisfaction - to improve quality, enhance customer satisfaction and increase sales.

Access to new markets - to overcome trade barriers and open up global market.

Increased market share
- to help increase productivity and competitive advantage.

The ISO 9001:2015  is very strongly based on two basic core concepts:

  • process approach based on  plan-do-check- act methodology
  • core concept which is risk based thinking, aiming at preventing undesirable outcomes

With the new version officially launched on 30th September 2015, and geared to include risk factors, the question is whether SMEs should invest in ISO 9001:2015 certification or is any certification a waste of time and money for the SMEs?

1 Comment
Standards are definitely essential in all walks of life. However, Quality Management Systems (tools like ISO 9001:2015) are is a generic assessment tools. They apply to all types of activities. This is its advantage but also its weakness. It lack sector specific / industry specific / country specific / context specific / and most importantly SIZE specific knowledge content.

Developing and accessing such knowledge, for an SME or a start-up may take time and resources. This may represent the difference between success or failure, and would influence the time taken and level of efforts required by an SME to achieve its goals.

An alternative to a generic QMS approach would be to:

- Identify the Key Success Factors in the particular SME's context - Sector / Sub Sector / size / competitive edge etc. by leveraging on the tacit knowledge of industry practitioners

- Understand the good practices or best practices applicable in each of these areas identified (which may overlap / simplify what is included in the QMS)

- Assess the performance of the particular SME wrt these Key Success Factors (Enterprise Audit to identify Gaps)

- Identify the causes of Gaps (Identify the process breaks and the root causes of any obstacles)

- Prepare an Action plan for improvement and develop ownership of the improvement efforts

- Celebrate achievements and earn peer and stakeholder recognition e.g. by NPCC
by Ram Jutliah on 28 Nov 2016
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