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01.6.2011 Does your mangement system support your business?

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Business Keys Ltd and the Business Improvement Network have been running a series of workshops and seminars to investigate the question, ‘Is your Business Management System (IMS) really integrated with your business?”

Our research has found that typically, the IMS approaches currently in use optimize two or more aspects of the business such as quality, the environment and health & safety only. A focus on integration of the compliance requirements of these standards can easily get in the way of setting up an IMS that effectively supports the continual improvement of the business itself.

Those taking the ISO9000 approach look at the effective design of processes aimed at meeting customer needs. So it would seem that a company implementing ISO9000 is on safe ground, but is the product fit for purpose? If the product does not meet market needs, even though processes may be working efficiently within one area of the company, the product will not gain market acceptance. Important stakeholder needs will be overlooked and the product will not work in tandem with other essential suppliers within the market, reducing sales potential considerably.  This makes the implementation of ISO9000, or any one standard in isolation, expensive and pointless.

Our research shows that a better approach would be to create a complete standards inventory that is appropriate to the company’s products and services and integrate them in to a set of robust systems that are built with the market, industry and government requirements in mind.Through our workshops we have found that companies also create products or services that appear to focus on conformance to specifications, ignoring fitness for purpose. Rarely are both considered together and attention is on product specification or industry requirements, and not on the outcomes required by the customer. Further, if either fitness for purpose or conformance to specification is ignored, a company can also attract unintended consequences.  For example, a hotel cleaner diligently hoovering the business lounge area according to company procedures is unlikely to meet the company’s intention to provide a calm environment for business discussions.

Research suggests that it is imperative for a successful business to focus on mandatory standards and voluntary standards together. By combining the two, a business creates a consistency that will bring about products and services that the market wants, satisfying both company objectives and stakeholder requirements.

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