Implementing an ISO Standard in your SME

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Posted by Florence Pillman

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ISO for Small Business 

One of the most confusing parts of gaining ISO certification as a small business is where to even start. Over the years 2SB have helped many clients. This article has been inspired by speaking to our clients about their experiences and gives guidance and advice to other SME’s looking to implement ISO Standards.

 

What are ISO Standards?

Some of the most common ISO Standards that SME’s come across are ISO 9001 Quality Management System, ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems, OHSAS 18001 Health & Safety Management System and ISO 27001 Information Security Management System. 2SB have implemented these Standards across a wide range of industries around London and the South East.

 

UKAS accredited vs Non UKAS accredited

Something to consider when planning to undertake the ISO certification as a small business is whether you use a UKAS accredited or Non UKAS accredited certification body. 2SB would recommend always using a UKAS accredited certification body since their stamp of approval gives greater credibility to the certificate. There are around 120 UKAS accredited certification bodies and we would recommend ‘shopping around’ to find the best fit for your organisation. For more information read our article

 

Why should SME’s consider implementing ISO Standards?

Being certified for the ISO Standards has many benefits and there are a variety of reasons behind why companies chose to undertake this process.

  • ISO Standards are often needed for tenders for both suppliers and consumers with many requesting evidence of a management system in place.

  • Internally, ISO Standards are useful for establishing management systems within the organisation for internal improvement and solid formation of business strategy and processes.  Peter van der Kolk, CEO of John Cullen Lighting commented “We needed to have ISO Standards in place to make sure we get incremental improvement and that overtime the company becomes more systematic in the way of working from a process point of view”.

  • The ISO Standards are also internationally recognised, so for an organisation looking to expand overseas, the Standards will be influential in the gaining of international clients and suppliers. Peter of John Cullen Lighting commented “ISO Standards will allow us to keep growing the company on an international level. From an international perspective, we will be perceived as a quality and reliable company so ISO fits right in to our strategy”.

 

Why take on a consultant?

Taking on a consultant helps ease the pressure on the organisation when implementing ISO Standards. It is a time-consuming process and for some organisations a completely new one. Chris Long, Commercial Director at Ground:Zero Productions advised. “I would strongly recommend engaging with a company like 2SB. In my opinion this is the only way to achieve the certification while still being able to perform your day to day business.”

An experienced consultant can guide you through the ISO Standards, help prepare the documentation and carry out internal audits. Peter of John Cullen Lighting commented “The ISO 9001 document gives guidance but you can implement it in the way which suits your business, therefore it is useful to have an external view and advice from a consultant”. Consultancies also help bridge the gap between your organisation and your certification body by being an immediate point of call for any questions you may have during the process – however trivial they are!

 

The difficulties of implementing ISO Standards

There are challenges in implementing ISO Standards, one of the main ones being the time consumption and pressure on resources within the organisation. Making time for ISO Standards may seem difficult in the day to day running of businesses but it is an essential part of the process to ensure a smooth certification. Another challenge is the creation of documentation which should be reviewed regularly and updated. This is an important part of the process as ISO Standards are all about evidencing that your systems are constantly following your organisation’s strategic direction. However, many of our clients have commented that implementing ISO Standards, although daunting at first, was an easier process than they originally believed due to already having some of the strategic business processes in place and organising their time efficiently.

 

Advice on implementing ISO Standards in SME’s

We asked some of our clients who have undertaken the ISO process for some advice. Peter of John Cullen Lighting commented “I would advise that you have a soft start, perhaps mapping your business processes and creating official strategy documents such as Risks and Opportunities and KPI’s so that when you come to do the official paperwork you have 80% of the documentation and processes already there”. Tamsin Cheyne, Compliance Manager of Porchlight commented “I would advise taking on a consultant, especially if you have no previous experience of ISO. This will make the process smoother”. Chris Passmore, Principal Management Systems Consultant at 2SB advises “My key recommendation is setting a target date for your stage one assessment, planning the work which you need to do and then working to the plan. Christmas, Easter or 31 July are all good dates to aim for and once you have had a couple of weeks holiday it is potentially only another month until your stage two assessment when you will be certified”.

 

How will ISO Standards benefit SME’s in the future?

Having ISO Standards can benefit your organisation in the future by increasing your competition in the market. Suppliers and consumers want evidence that they are using a reliable, well managed company. Chris Long from Ground:Zero Productions commented “ISO Standard certification has much more of an impact when we present the company to clients and prospects – it helps them to build a trust relationship with us”. Having a ISO certification could help you gain more tenders and clients and allow you to compete at a higher level within your market. Peter of John Cullen Lighting commented. Some of our stakeholders include interior designers and architects and for them it’s their reputation on the line. They want to deal with a reliable company that thinks in processes and delivers on commitment and I think that’s the whole principle behind ISO is that you must deliver on commitment”. ISO Standards can also be attributed in the growth of organisations either on a national or international scale. Peter Murphy, HR Director of Porchlight commented “Having the ISO Standards was certainly a contributing factor in our growth as an organisation”.

 

If you are looking to be one of the 60,000+ UK organisations with ISO certificates don’t hesitate to contact us on 01622 721684 or complete our enquiry form online and we'll get back to you the same day. 

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