PrintIT Reseller caught up with Ian Birch and Lisa O’Connell from Intelligent Business Consulting to find out why dealers should be looking to achieve ISO certifications
PrintIT Reseller (PITR): What are ISO standards and which ones are relevant to the channel?
Ian Birch (IB): Simply put, they’re a set of internationally recognised standards covering the key elements of successful business management. There are many standards available, but the reality is that only a handful of them are particularly relevant for MPS providers.
Lisa O’Connell (LOC): They’ve been put in place to help ensure products get made in the right way, processes are followed and services are delivered to a consistently high level, to name a few examples.
We find ISO 9001 is often a good place to start as it focuses on delivering products and services which meet the needs of customers and regulators. ISO 22301 helps companies prepare for, and respond to, disruptions as they occur, which is pertinent given our experiences this year. ISO 27001 covers information security which is increasingly relevant for MPS providers.
PITR: What’s involved in the certification process?
LOC: We have a four-stage approach to the ISO certification. Firstly, prior to the certification, we work to understand the set-up and scope of the organisation, and activities they’re involved in. In addition to this, we complete a gap analysis to understand the current situation and what they need to do to meet the standard.
Next, the documentation, processes and controls need to be put in place. We work at a pace which suits our clients which is critical given normal business pressures, but especially so in the current climate. We use our MPS experience and share industry best practice where possible.
After this stage is complete, we support our partners through the certification meeting with an external audit body. Evidence is presented to demonstrate that the management system has been implemented which meets the requirements of the standard.
Once the certification has been gained, ongoing focus is required to demonstrate compliance. Annual external audits will seek evidence that the requirements are being met.
PITR: What are the business benefits of certification?
IB: There are many benefits which are particularly relevant as we negotiate these challenging times. A few examples include:
*Evidence to customers and suppliers of good governance, risk management and a commitment to excellence;
*Improved employee engagement and retention rates;
*Increased customer satisfaction and loyalty;
*New business opportunities, differentiation and improved tender submissions; and
*Process efficiency and cost reduction through continuous improvement.
PITR: What ongoing support is needed?
LOC: Gaining an ISO accreditation isn’t a one-off activity. It becomes an integral part of how a business is run, and with this approach, the benefits Ian has just mentioned can be achieved.
With the right resource available internally, it’s possible for companies to manage their own ongoing compliance activities, internal audits and management reviews. However, pressures on resource and time are greater than ever due to COVID, and some of our partners have requested ongoing support to ensure they are prepared for the annual external audits. Hence, we now offer an ISO Internal Auditor subscription service to ensure the necessary evidence and documentation is in place.
PITR: Why should dealers focus on this now, during the pandemic?
IB: It’s been a tough year for the industry, there’s no denying it. Print volumes have been hit hard as many offices remain closed and more people than ever work from home. The furlough scheme has helped, but unfortunately redundancies are currently quite common as companies take actions to restructure and survive.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned this year, it’s that we don’t always know what the future holds. It’s critical to equip our businesses in the best way we can to survive the short-term bumps in the road, and flourish longer-term.
LOC: That’s true. The ISO standards are there to help. Quality and risk management plans are essential, especially in a competitive technology sector where many businesses are looking to expand into new service and product offerings.
ISO 9001 introduces a risk-based thinking approach. It encourages continuous improvement, especially in product and service delivery, and ensures customer satisfaction remains at the heart of a business strategy. This standard helps businesses of all sizes react to expected or unexpected change.
Equally, preparing for, responding to and recovering from events such as those seen this year is likely to be a priority for many businesses. ISO 22301 Business Continuity supports this goal and aligns nicely with both ISO 9001 and 27001 to create a comprehensive management system.