Does ISO 9001:2008 Quality Assurance cost you money or save you money?

moneyDoes ISO cost you money or save you money? Is it a cost centre or cost benefit? The answer to that depends largely on how the quality system is developed. For more information read on..

It has become apparent that many businesses operate with inefficiencies which often go unchecked until we are engaged to implement a QMS, and conduct a review the whole of business operations. With many managers working IN the business and not ON the business, systems often evolve organically without structure, consultation and consideration of the required deliverables and outcomes, and as such do not hit the nail on the head in terms of their effectiveness.

There is a saying that “an organisation is only as good as it’s systems” and I have found this to be very true. Without systems and processes a business owner (or senior management) will often find their business stuck in first gear, red lining at 40kms per hour, without the ability to move to the next level. Further it appears as though there is a definite and very clear ratio between the adequacy of an organisations systems and the number of inefficiencies and financial “Improvement Opportunities” that are identified during the development of a quality management system.

Yes, there is a tangible cost associated with the implementation of a quality management system but I would suggest that for the majority of businesses, the hidden costs of inefficiencies, non-conforming products/services, and overly complicated processes would outweigh the cost of a QMS development and implementation many times over.

Here are a few questions which might get you thinking about whether a quality management system will cost you money or save you money:

  • Do you have Position Descriptions? Ok so how does this save you money: well if you have staff that have no idea of what is required of them, there is a very good chance they are simply operating on their instinct, covering all bases (or not covering any at all) as they see fit. The issue here is that depending on the personality, staff may try and do everything (including tasks they probably shouldn’t) and burn out, or they will do four fifths of not much, or they could fall somewhere in between. Position Descriptions very clearly define roles, responsibilities, reporting and accountabilities and are a key component of performance reviews and the overarching quality system framework.
  •  When did your company last take time to review your documentation  and procedures? Inefficient processes and procedures, double handling, badly setup forms and unstructured electronic data stores mean man hours, lost dollars, and a system that will fall into complete disarray if growth is experienced.
  • Does your organisation advocate quality and long term sustainable and scalable growth?  Does management engage with workers and foster a culture of inclusiveness and team effort? Both of these questions can relate to whether you have a high or low staff turnover. While these questions don’t necessarily directly relate to meeting the requirements of the 9001 Quality Standard, if workers don’t have a sense of inclusion and purpose, staff turnover will be high and each time an employee leaves for greener pastures the company experiences a substantial knowledge loss, and as a result revenue loss.

To conclude; ISO 9001 certification is not just a certificate to go on the wall, it is a demonstration that a business is committed to efficiencies, streamlining and a culture of quality and continual improvement. To answer the question of this blog title: Does ISO 9001:2008 Quality Assurance cost you money or save you money, in my humble opinion: a definite savings; provided the system is developed to not just to achieve compliance, but to IMPROVE BUSINESS PERFORMANCE.

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