If you think an ISO certification did not quite help your company get ahead and double its marketshare, imagine what would have happened had you not been certified? The point is simple and harsh. Companies and organizations can’t afford making mistakes, of course, for, they may lose customers and sales; see their bottoms knocked out; have legal cases slapped on them, or simply suffer employee-exodus. But making mistakes too often, or making the same ones over and again may certainly spell curtains for their business.
So, the question isn’t really how many mistakes is too many for a business. The question is: how do you not make any of them that are silly, and you can easily avoid them. And the answer is establishing methods and processes and systems that employees and managers can follow, and not err on silly things – either courtesy oversights, or over confidence, or plain recklessness. Make smart mistakes, not silly ones. That’s exactly what management and process standards help you do: avoid silly mistakes; do things the right way. It’s like, if you made a 100 errors a day earlier, after getting certified, you’ll make 10 – and that’s a good report card!
These two stories make for an interesting reading on how certifications can turn the fortunes of companies for good.
Ergo Furniture Systems was a hard-hit, yet resilient, name that emerged from the financial downturn of 2008. Manufacturing office furnishings, its regular clientele had developed reservations about the quality of the product. The constant drop in the demand graph, triggered the company to uplift standards, thereby adopting ISO 9001 & 14001 Certifications. It turned the table on its head upon successful incorporation of the same, as the customers found assurance in the quality standards. Further, with the help of in-house research and streamlined processes, it emboldened people productivity at the workplace. The same qualified staff, turned into loyal employees of the company, sharpening its competitive edge over others in the business.
The management sought refuge in International Certifications to gain worldwide market acceptance but more importantly, faith in its own competence to withstand challenges.
Procter & Gamble, the company with a market cap of $228 Billion, is another example when it comes to benefitting from quality standards. Since 2003, the consumer products giant has been outsourcing I.T management capabilities to HP & British Telecom (Now BT Group PLC).
But, what was the problem? - It's technical staff logged in at different local times and naturally so, due to different geographic locations. For instance, from 11 a.m. – 7 a.m. in Cincinnati, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. in Brussels & 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. in Singapore. P&G needed to make sure that, people logged in continuously during overlapping timeframes. Service management processes from ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library), made sure that the data centers were fully functional from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. in every country, without additional staffing. P&G thus avoided the expenditure of $125 million dollars a year by preventing redundancies.
While there is voluminous research available about companies who galloped great distances after getting ISO certified, and how manufacturing and industrial outputs, and exports in third world increased, there is also tremendous evidence of how information, computing, services and technology industries have grown many times over, primarily because international standards lent companies a set of common guidelines and do’s and don’ts to follow while they were scaling up and expanding.
The error some businesses – especially the smaller and the mid-sized ones - often make is chasing the absolute, and expecting the impossible. Businesses fail either because they did not do the right things, or, they did the right things the wrong way; or they did the wrong things, the right way. While getting certified doesn’t always help you decide and do the right things, it certainly does make you do the right things the right way, and if you’re cautious, following global standards even helps you at least smell the fire, before it gets big enough to burn things down.
If we can’t make a business case out for switching to international benchmarks and standards and getting certified for our business in these times, we’re exposing ourselves to the risks of suffering due to things going wrong because they’re not being done the right way.