Gaining a Competitive Advantage

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by | Apr 20, 2016

Have you ever found yourself going to a movie because the starring actor was an Oscar winner? After the Grammy Awards, are you more inclined to download a song because of the results? You’re not alone. It’s human nature to embrace credibility.

Which brings me to the subject of quality and two recognized, respected measures of it. A quality management system (QMS) is critical to attracting suppliers and retaining customers for this very reason. In a global economy filled with numerous competitors, a QMS demonstrates credibility because it signifies that an organization adheres to industry standards in numerous areas appealing to suppliers and consumers. Some of these factors include: consistency in delivering quality products and services; commitment to continuous improvement; structure and resources to produce quality products; sustainability and customer satisfaction. A QMS validates that a company is complying to standards with cost-effective and efficient practices and to enable the manufacture of stable, top quality, and safe products.

Another measure of quality credibility is ISO certification. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9000 series is an internationally recognized set of standards related to quality management systems. ISO was created in 1947 and is based in Geneva, Switzerland. Obtaining ISO certification officially authenticates that a manufacturer can address the needs of customers while meeting specific requirements.

Three Key Advantages of ISO Certification

  • Increased Sales: An increasing number of consumers and suppliers are becoming aware that ISO certified manufacturers offer superior products and services to customers. As a result, many prefer to purchase products from manufacturers with this certification.
  • Fewer Quality Audits: Since ISO certifications include the tools necessary to develop superior quality management systems, there will be fewer customer complaints and quality audits. Instead of making adjustments and changing directions, manufacturers will be able to focus on more important business aspects and use resources more efficiently.
  • Enhanced Communication across Organizations: A key benefit of ISO certification is the focus on employee involvement. Raising quality awareness among employees and making them part of quality management systems will improve communication within a company, helping management teams find better ways to address and solve issues hindering organizational progress. It’s more than about improving processes. Obtaining certification encourages teamwork across various aspects of an organization and fosters interdepartmental cohesiveness.

Recent ISO 9001 Changes

Every five years, ISO standards are revisited to update the qualifications and respond to market changes; ISO 9001:2015 reflects the most recently revised standards. Consequently, many suppliers are requiring their manufacturing partners to adopt the updated provisions. Some of the changes include:

  • Quality management will now be more closely aligned with organizational business strategies.
  • There will be a stronger focus on leadership providing motivation towards organizational goals and objectives.
  • The introduction of risk and opportunity management.
  • Management systems will be used as a “meter stick” to help identify business opportunities and bottom line improvement.
  • There is a shift towards easier implementation of multiple integrated management systems.

For more information on the changes, you can visit the International ISO website.

Please Note: There are numerous certifications covering various aspects of improvement including environmental efficiencies and industry-specific enhancements. This is just one example.

QMS and ISO Certification can help manufacturers gain a competitive advantage and improve efficiencies. Learn more by connecting with Polaris MEP.

*This post was written by Brian Lagas, who manages NIST MEP’s sustainability, lean and export activities. The post originally appeared on the NIST MEP Innovation Blog.

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