SME’s (Small and Medium Enterprises) always view Certification as a cost to doing business especially in small businesses given the man hours required to achieve this. The first question that any organisation needs to ask themselves before engaging the route of 3rd Party audits or certification is do they see this as a benefit to the organisation or a cost to doing business? They need to weigh out the potential benefits of audits / compliance and must capitalise over the years on the benefit. The real benefits realised by companies include brand reputation, access to public sector, tenders while creating operational and financial benefits to organisations themselves.
SME’s must internally audit themselves with a view of not just ticking the boxes but with a view of realising the benefits and making it part of their day to day operations. Gaining an accredited certification to a reputable ISO standard adds further value by making the product more reputable, marketable and opens the doors to newer markets. Some of the examples of benefits of audits be it 2nd party or 3rd party are:
- Tendering to larger contracts and working with multi-national corporates – Corporates want to deal with companies that value process improvements and have a documented system for their processes and products. By being certified to a standard, they understand you value the environment and H&S of your employees as well as the quality of your product.
- Tendering for local Govt. Work – Most local / state and federal govt. Tenders need entities to be formally 3rd party certified or provide evidence of quality, environmental and H&S policies and in cases of food – formal food safety scheme. Audits and Certification provide access to growth in the public sector.
- Ability to trade across borders – An accredited 3rd party certification allows access to overseas markets; clients understand the product and processes meet the required standard and this makes it easier to enter markets.
So how to promote your business through the eyes of Certification:
- Promote your Certifications on all marketing material – promote, promote and promote your achievements through your certification across all marketing material, events and even on your stationary. This is to highlight not just your product but also your operations and processes.
- Use Customer Satisfaction to deliver the message – Customer satisfaction is a requirement for 3rd party certification. Use the scores or successes to promote your company in a positive light.
- Operational control – Demonstrate your operational excellence by delivering a key message about your controls. Engage new markets by promoting what you have to offer while demonstrating the same.
- Continual Improvement – Another key element is continual improvement; this can be demonstrated by audits conducted over time and in reduction in recalls or dispose of quality products.
There is nothing as too much auditing, the more you audit the more you stand to benefit; the more eyes that look at your systems internally and externally the more improvements you will make. This is the essence of auditing – using smart systems only enhances the processes and provides data to support this.
Take the burden out of manual auditing and think of it as an effective business tool. Use simple systems and tools to make it efficient and provide value to your systems.