The Business Benefits of ISO
Businesses that proactively and effectively implement ISO standards and maintain certifications specific to their industries end up reaping benefits that go far beyond simply checking the box on a mandatory standard. The business benefits of ISO are twofold. First, the actual implementation of processes, documentation, and quality standards provide important frameworks for improvement across many aspects of a business. And, second, being officially certified in standards like AS9100 for aerospace or 13485 for medical device manufacturers opens up a whole world of sales opportunities.
If you do ISO right, then you get both. There are those that come from greater consistency, discipline and organization, fewer mistakes and nonconformities, greater respect from customers, better morale. Then there are those that relate to access to customers, contracts, and markets.
Let’s explore these two aspects of the potential benefits of implementing and maintaining ISO.
ISO Improves Daily Processes and Introduces Control
One of the most significant benefits of ISO is to be able to operate your organization in a defined and controlled manner. Organizations are made up of a lot of different things. For longevity and optimization, processes need to be defined, optimized, and then documented. It’s not enough to have a few skilled leaders, because those leaders may move on or simply get tired. Similarly, it’s not enough to have informal processes your teams follow. Those teams may change, or expand, and they need great processes to guide them.
The most direct path to consistency is ISO. It provides a solid, flexible, and widely accepted model to get the basics of formality in place. Implementing ISO could be seen as success by design.
ISO Reassures Customers and Provides a Marketing Opportunity
Beyond improving processes and results inside the operation of the business itself, ISO has benefits for marketing and sales. Meeting industry specific standards is a way to provide demonstrable assurance to customers that the business is operating under the highest quality standards, and best practices for the industry. Customers want consistency, and having ISO signals that you are consistent.
Knowledge of ISO is widespread these days, but most organizations get serious about it when they find it is a requirement of a contract or customer – or they find that it will help to enter a new market. There are some industry sectors where it’s clear that ISO is part of the industry. The medical device industry pretty much requires ISO 13485. The Aerospace, Defense and Government sectors demand AS9100. The oil and gas industry pushes API Q1 (a 9001 derivative). Large organizations and government contracting officers find it easy to get the benefits of assurance they need by simply demanding ISO so – they just ask. Lagging on ISO certification or auditing could be setting yourself up for future failure – or at least slower growth. One reason to maintain ISO in your business is that it’s an ingrained part of many industries.
Even though maintaining an ISO certification can provide marketing and sales benefits to your organization, growth is not guaranteed. You have to be proactive. Investigate and access new markets in a planned manner. Research your competitors, and talk to your customers about their expectations. Share your certifications and qualifications on your website, and in your sales process. Use it to reassure your customers and gain a marketing advantage.
All ISO is Not Good ISO: How to Get it Right
Done well, ISO brings formality, organization, and discipline, but it doesn’t dictate what level of control you use and how it is implemented. Management still gets to decide how standards are implemented, and how things run on a daily basis. Blindly using templates, implementing software that doesn’t teach you ISO, or avoiding specific optimization of operations won’t get you anywhere.
If you make the wrong choice on approach, you will not only miss out on the benefit but the bureaucracy, extra admin, and ineffective processes that you end up with will have a terrible negative impact on the operation of your organization. It is important to understand the goals of ISO, the options, and what makes sense for your organization if you are going to realize the benefits.
One tip in thinking about how you realize benefits is to set some goal and objectives for the benefits you want and then work out exactly how that is going to be achieved. This will bring tangible and direct goals internally, and customers will notice too. For example, if consistent supply is going to be an aim, then you have to identify what that means, measure it, and take the actions to meet and exceed those goals.