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Courtesy of IMSM Ltd

Most people will agree that business is about the satisfaction of a customer need through the supply of goods or services. Generally the motivation is to generate profit - and there is also an expectation of growth over time. Typical business objectives for a particular year might include:

• to survive in difficult market conditions
• to increase market share by 5%
• to increase sales by 10%
• to increase overall profit by 8%

There are many strategic alternatives for achieving growth: to focus on the core product line, or diversify into new product areas, to stick with the value range, or introduce a premium brand, to develop the distribution chain within existing markets, or expand into new territories. And that is before considering the possibilities of joint venture and acquisition.

A particularly valuable framework to help achieve business growth is the implementation of ISO9001, the International Standard for quality management systems. In simple terms this allows a business to say what is does, to do what it says, and to have the documentation to prove it. While you may not have considered ISO9001 from this viewpoint, there are significant commercial benefits to be gained:

• Enhanced market potential. Supply chain pressure is increasingly looking for compliance with ISO9001, providing competitive advantage, and opening up both domestic and export markets. Discerning customers prefer to source products and services from reputable and certified suppliers, organizations which can’t demonstrate compliance can no longer compete.
• Increased customer satisfaction. When systems are in place, customer demands are met consistently, products are delivered on time and to specification, and faults are minimized. As a result, complaints and goods returned are minimized, saving time and building a loyal customer base which values reliability.
• Healthier sales, greater market share. As competitive advantage and customer satisfaction increase, so market share increases and sales values, as well as volumes, grow.
• Financial gains. Cost savings resulting from operational efficiencies, reduced administration and rework of returned goods, plus higher sales and increased profit margins, all contribute to higher return on assets and greater profitability.

Effective quality management systems are vital if an organization is to successfully cope with the pressure produced as a result of all other growth initiatives.

ISO 9001 should not be viewed as simply a quality management tool, or even as just another growth opportunity, to be considered alongside other alternatives. The implementation of ISO9001 is in fact critical to the success of the company, of whatever size, and part of the integral infrastructure on which all future expansion strategy will depend.

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