Why Specialist Contractors can and should be ISO Certified

Embracing ISO Certification will, as proven by international studies, increase your profitability!
 

Furthermore, ISO Certification is a very public declaration that you intend your business to be the best it possibly can be. This will not only differentiate you, but assure your customers and open up new markets, as well as managing your risks.
 

Most importantly, Certification will improve your business over time and substantially add to its value if or when you decide to exit.
 

This is because the international standard for quality management, ISO 9001, applied properly and appropriately, offers a complete framework for quality delivery and enhancing Customer Satisfaction.
 

Moreover, there are also very strong improvements to the 2015 version of ISO 9001, and incidentally also to ISO 14001 the international standard for Environmental Management, which enhance that already excellent framework and make those Standards even more relevant to Construction.
 

The 2015 versions of the Standards place an even a greater requirement on you to show that you fully understand your business environment and demonstrate your ability to meet the needs of your customers; this customer assurance element of ISO Certification is thus giving a further boost to the growing trend of main contractors demanding that their subcontractors secure ISO Certification.
 

For specialist contractors, the ISO process will assist you even more in setting your businesses up to perform effectively in the markets in which you want to operate. Businesses always glean immense value from the ISO process itself, from the compulsion to define your Best Practice; the 2015 versions compel you to “probe deeper and even more purposefully in teasing out your business effectiveness” and enshrining this in a quality management system (QMS) or, preferably, an integrated management system (IMS) encompassing all processes that your business needs (including environmental and health and safety management for example).
 

The intent of the 2015 revisions is a more demonstrably practical impact on certified businesses. “Measurable effectiveness” are the buzz words. ISO 9001:2015 is therefore less prescriptive than its predecessor; it is what you produce that is important. Any business of any size can achieve Certification quickly and cost-effectively. Whatever you have heard, ISO is not about paperwork and bureaucracy it is about results and it can be done in bite-size chunks without diverting you or anyone else from your everyday business needs. Are your current management processes consistently achieving the desired results?
 

The new Standards require you to define your business “context”, the reality of your business environment. What does your business need to be and do to succeed in your chosen markets? Are all the factors that influence the successful delivery of your products clear to everyone in your organisation? This must include what is called the “needs of interested parties”, or anybody or any organisation that can impact your activities or could be themselves impacted by them and whose opinions you should be caring about. This is a potentially profound and beneficial exercise – a deep level understanding of your context throughout your business should be the basis of your management system and positively inform it at all levels; this can only lead to its more effective implementation with real business benefits. Throughout this exercise you should be assessing “risks and opportunities”. For example, does the emergence of BIM represent a risk or an opportunity for you? Perhaps neither but perhaps both.
 

Successfully defining your context will make it easier to satisfy another new 2015 requirement which is to align your quality or integrated management system objectives with your strategic direction. Your integrated management system should be integral to achieving your business plan and your business plan should be based on an effective implementation of your integrated management system! Accurately defining the scope of your IMS will emerge naturally from this context/interested parties/strategic alignment thinking, ensuring all understand its pivotal strategic role; choosing to secure ISO 9001 is always a strategic decision.
 

ISO 2015 calls for “active” and responsible leadership and you will have commenced this by driving the context definition exercise. Given your quality management system’s pivotal role in your business success, how are you going to demonstrate leadership and where are you going to define other leadership responsibilities throughout your system? Determining how and by whom leadership will be demonstrated will clearly benefit your organisation, making leadership responsible and accountable and therefore measurable! Leadership by example in driving your quality management system aids buy-in and effective implementation at all levels. Why not enshrine it in your definitions of roles and responsibilities so that your management system smoothly guides everyday business activities?
 

Any effective management system has always been concerned with risk management and “risk-based thinking” courses through the new Standards and is allied with concurrently thinking about opportunities. Any consideration of context and scope, as mentioned above, must include assessing risks and opportunities and doing this up front will obviously increase the effectiveness of your organization’s system whilst also opening eyes and ears to potential business enhancements and benefits. Real business benefits are there for the taking by extending this approach to all your individual processes and activities.
 

Indeed, ISO 2015 re-emphasises the process approach. The simple but profound basic ISO philosophy of plan-do-check-and-act (PDCA) is enhanced. Quite simply, properly thought-out processes for all your activities, if managed well, will achieve your desired results! Better process control leads to improved delivery, enhanced customer satisfaction (and retention and loyalty), and improved image, reputation and credibility. So, as you would expect, there is also added emphasis in ISO 2015 on “performance monitoring”, i.e. the check-and-act of the fundamental PDCA cycle. How well is your management system performing? Is it enshrined in the business? Could it do better? Does everyone understand the criteria for successful delivery and do you have the documentation and resources in place to ensure it?
 

ISO Certification offers the opportunity to create the most effective and practical management system that will underpin all the ambition you have ever had for your business.

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