Growing a business involves many hurdles, providing enough sleepless nights to question whether it really is worth all the hassle! Growth inevitably comes with the prerequisite of more staff – staff with varying experience, loyalty, philosophies and motivations.
Most businesses start out as a single person with an ambition to do things the right way – their way. Giving up an element of control through delegation is one of the biggest hurdles when growing and, in order to ensure the company’s raison d’être is maintained, there needs to be constant oversight to ensure everyone is pulling in the right direction.
This, of course, is easier said than done. Most directors and managers within a small business take on many roles, so it is difficult to ensure everyone knows who does what, when, why and how – they’ve got enough to do! This means complacency can creep in, leading to mistakes, complaints and a tarnished reputation. As businesses develop, departments can become increasingly isolated, operating virtually independently. Many companies can cite examples where there is a completely different approach to achieving the same outcomes; some may think their department’s way is best, or were simply unaware that there was already a system in place.
As businesses get bigger, these issues are multiplied and start to have major cost implications. Mistakes, re-work, lost clients and demotivated, unproductive employees cost money, heaping on the pressure to win new business to keep heads above water.
So what if there was a tool to help manage these problems; a tool that would help improve transparency within a business, leading to a consistent, high-quality service? Well actually, there already is that tool in existence; helping organisations around the world grow without the growing pains.
Introducing ISO 9001
Owner-managers and experienced staff tend to know what needs doing, and how to do it. As such, processes and procedures don’t really exist because they’re all in someone’s head. This may work right now, but as the business grows, this makes delegation incredibly difficult.
Systematisation of procedures means that anyone within the business is able to see exactly how a process works, without the ambiguity. This process could be from taking an enquiry, to delivering a service, to dealing with a complaint. The result? Systematising these processes through the implementation of a Quality Management System (QMS) means the process is delivered right the first time, every time! Moreover, it allows businesses to grow with total control.
ISO 9001 provides a framework to help build such a QMS. What may look like an unusual acronym is the name of the world’s most popular quality management standard, providing a structure for creating a QMS. Created by the International Standardization Organization, ISO 9001’s roots can be traced back to WW2 and has been continually revised since through worldwide input to ensure it remains a relevant and effective business improvement tool.
The standard is popular for three reasons – credibility from its international stature; the fact it can be applied to any type of business; and that it has been proven to improve operational efficiency (and cost reduction as a result). Credibility is further enhanced when obtaining certification for the standard, where an independent Certification Body assesses the organisation against the requirements of the standard.
The benefits behind ISO 9001 have not gone unnoticed. For any business looking to do work with the public sector, ISO 9001 is expected from suppliers. Why? Because it saves time and money by not having to check each and every would-be supplier is fit for the job – ISO 9001 does that for them. Consequently, it’s not just a business improvement tool, ISO 9001 is a business winner too.
The business winning potential of the standard was proven in a survey from the British Assessment Bureau where 44% of respondents said that they had won business as a result of becoming certified to ISO 9001.
So whilst growing a business may seem like it could be more pain than pleasure, there are ways of building solid foundations to help your business go from strength to strength. If you have any experiences of ISO 9001 or how you’ve overcome the growing pains of expanding your business, share your comments below or join in the conversation at @B2Community.
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