Having an ISO certification is becoming more and more necessary across a variety of industries, especially in manufacturing. ISO stands for International Organization for Standardizations, and it signifies proper training and structure within a company or organization.
What does “properly” mean in this context? It means a lot of different things, but most importantly, it shows a specific organization has undergone vetting for success and optimization.
To understand why that is, you must first consider what operational improvements an ISO certification can offer.
What Does ISO Certification Do?
In general, an ISO certification provides the following benefits to an operation:
- It guarantees products or services meet customer requirements and demands.
- It guarantees efficiency through consistent day-to-day operations and steady output.
- It guarantees repeatable and predictable processes that are easy to duplicate.
- It improves the overall quality of output for any products, services and offerings.
- It boosts internal culture by fostering clear expectations, adopting useful tools and applications and the delivery of reliable feedback.
Of course, there are more benefits to gain beyond what ISO certification and maintenance calls for. The ones discussed here, however, are the most impactful.
How Does ISO Help in Manufacturing?
Those benefits sound ideal, don’t they? But what can ISO certification do for manufacturers, specifically?
For starters, there are several different ISO standards. Some of the most common are ISO 9001, ISO 22000 and ISO 14000, among many others. Each standard dictates something different. ISO 9001 relates to improving quality management, for example, while ISO 22000 is about safety management for the food and beverage industry.
The 9000 family is highly relevant to manufacturing, so it’s worth focusing on.
The entire point behind each standard is to provide a series of guaranteed and effective processes for completing a specific objective. ISO 9001 encourages organizations to deploy more successful processes for dealing with quality and cost problems. It calls for teams to identify, document, organize and improve existing systems.
Furthermore, many of the practices outlined in the standard align with common customer requirements, such as safety standards, effective development and environmentally friendly operations.
Rather than go it alone, ISO adherence helps manufacturers and development companies manage their operations in a more meaningful and collaborative way. It has the added effect of improving both national and international trade, as a result.
Since a majority of manufacturers do not have a system in place to benchmark, identify and deal with quality objectives, ISO is the best and most relevant solution. By following the standards, a manufacturer can not only prevent costly errors but can also avoid repeating mistakes — which tend to be detrimental to a company or brand’s reputation.
In this way, ISO also helps build trust between an organization and its customers by guaranteeing output quality at a certain level.
How to Get Certified
It’s true, earning an ISO certification represents a significant investment in both money and time if you haven’t already aligned operations appropriately. But the benefits far outweigh the costs, if only because you’re making your customers happier. That alone leads to increased revenue, higher levels of trust and support and positive sentiment around your organization.
To get certified, you must take the following steps.
- Conduct an initial analysis: Check the resources and work necessary to align your company with ISO standards. Consider the overhead your company might incur. What new opportunities open up with a certification? How long will it take to modify and evolve your organization?
- Involve your staff and customers: Your company doesn’t exist in a vacuum. To achieve certification, your entire team must be on board, and it must provide general improvements for your customers. Explain what your staff must know and do to be compliant. Introduce them to the basic concepts of ISO. Walk them through an ISO audit so they know what it entails. Communicate with your customers to understand directives and requirements more clearly.
- Hire a consultant: Quality assurance experts and ISO professionals have a lot of experience preparing companies for certification. You don’t. Enlist their help to find out what to do and what is the best approach for you to take.
- Adapt company culture: ISO certification and upkeep is an ongoing process, and it never ends, even after you earn certification. Ensure internal company culture and policies reflect such demands. It may be necessary to offer incentives to workers who remain ISO compliant.
- Document everything: ISO standards require you to document processes and procedures thoroughly, so it’s best to get in the habit of doing so early. As you work to become more ISO-compliant, document what you’re doing, identify changes and results and ensure everyone on your team has access to — and can read — the data. To make it more clear, new employees just entering the industry should be able to read and understand all document even content that would otherwise require years of experience to get.
With the right focus and investments, you’ll find your organization on the fast track to ISO certification. It takes time and money, yes, but the right path is one that doesn’t require you to squander any of that.
Plus, it all leads to improved output and product or service quality, meaning your customers have a much better experience. It builds strong, positive relationships and trust, as well as lots of goodwill for the organization. If that isn’t preparing for the future, what is?
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