3 Benefits of ISO 9001 Certification for Small Businesses
One of the most common misconceptions about ISO 9001 certification is that it's only for big businesses. This couldn't be further from the truth: The standards that ISO set forth are generic by design so that they may be applied to businesses of any size, type and product offered and that includes small businesses. As ISO itself noted, 95 percent of businesses in the world are considered "small businesses" - many of whom are becoming ISO certified
Just one member of the ISO 9000 family, ISO 9001, lays out the requirements that organizations must fulfill before they are certified by a recognized certification body. It is a quality management system that establishes a framework for businesses to pursue continual improvement to operations, give quality assurances to customers and open up new market opportunities.
Many small businesses balk at the idea of getting certified due to the costs and time it would take to achieve certification. On the contrary, these should be seen as an investment into the business that will generate a return in the form of new contracts landed, higher quality products and more efficient operations. Here is a closer look at some of the most potent benefits of ISO 9001 certification for small businesses:
"Many organizations will not accept bids from suppliers unless they are ISO 9001 certified."
Makes you a competitive bidder
If a customer is taking quotes from several potential suppliers, who do you think they will choose if it comes down to a supplier that is ISO 9001 certified and one that isn't? Today, many organizations will not accept bids from suppliers unless they are ISO 9001 certified.
It's important to note that while you can implement ISO 9001 guidelines without getting certified, it still leaves your customers in the position of having to perform their own audits to ensure compliance. The certification takes that uncertainty out of the picture and improves your marketability.
Having an ISO 9001 certification gives potential customers a reliable indicator that you're committed to providing a high level of customer service. Your larger competitors will almost certainly have this certification, so by becoming certified, you'll level the playing field considerably.
Improves the whole business
Another misconception that businesses often have regarding ISO 9001 certification is that it's solely about quality control. In fact, ISO 9001 certification is really about a holistic approach to improving operations and growing the business by providing a consistent and reliable standard against which existing procedures can be measured. It's about improving processes as much as it is improving products. Here are some of the benefits certification can bring to small businesses:
Direction and accountability. Employees and managers know exactly what is expected of them in terms of quality objectives, the procedures they must use to handle each task and process metrics that provide actionable feedback on their performance.
Reduced operational expenses and inefficiencies. The rigorous certification process often reveals suboptimal procedures that, when fixed, cut costs and time wasted due to an inefficient process.
Improved customer service. The ISO 9001 framework helps businesses place more focus on improving every facet of their customer service, leading to stronger long-term relationships with customers.
Opens doors to international markets
Small businesses don't often have the budgets to promote themselves effectively in international markets, but an ISO certification can make up for that since it is instantly recognized all over the world. According to ISO, more than 1 million organizations in over 175 countries rely on ISO certifications to improve their own operations and verify the quality of suppliers and partners. In many instances, ISO certification is a prerequisite just to talk to many of these international players.
It's true that ISO 9001 certification can be expensive and time-consuming for small businesses, but it's an investment that can pay dividends later. To learn more about how your small business can get ISO 9001 certified, click here for more information.