The Importance of ISO Certification for Service Companies

May 1, 2012
How following ISO 9001 guidelines has improved quality management system at J.M. Electrical Co., Inc.

In the building automation industry, you’ll find a multitude of projects with teams working in tandem to ensure the job is completed properly and on time. Project management is strengthened with a uniform system of procedure, feedback, and accountability. Communication is key — from coordinating with customers to complete areas of work seamlessly to providing them with project status updates every step of the way. To avoid inefficiency gaps, meet project schedules, and keep projects within budget, it is essential that companies in the service industry adopt an advanced and specialized quality management system.

Quality management is common in the manufacturing sector, but less so in service-oriented industries like construction. For example, the process of building a widget, streamlining and improving it while making it consistent across an organization, has been carefully analyzed for years — and its importance is widely understood. It is much harder, however, to imagine a unified standard for processes across a service company, with its varied projects, parameters, time lines, and protocols. This is exactly why implementing a quality management system is so valuable.

Without a system in place to establish procedure, monitor progress, and evaluate performance, it is nearly impossible to consistently deliver a quality product to your customer. However, it is equally important that a quality management system allows you to raise the bar by adding value to your organization. Problems are identified and corrected as they arise, allowing you to be proactive and minimize the likelihood of reoccurrence, which benefits all parties involved.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is the world’s largest developer and publisher of international standards. With a network of institutes in 163 participating countries, ISO is a non-governmental organization that forms a bridge between public and private sectors. As a result, ISO standards are constantly advancing to meet the needs of growing sectors within the industry. The vast majority of the ISO international standards are highly specific to product, material, and process, ensuring regulation from start to finish.

In today’s competitive business world, customers are placing more and more demands on their suppliers. In an ISO 9001-certified company, the use of a quality management system enhances the final product by ensuring that we meet or exceed our customer expectations. It also causes us to focus on management responsibility, quality objectives, human resources, infrastructure, vendor relations, and continual improvement. This is done through a process approach, which enables an organization to systematically improve performance.

The business of automated building systems is increasingly complex, as the systems must communicate dynamically with each other. With the various types and levels of sophistication of these systems constantly evolving, it is hard to contain one problem in one area without affecting the rest of the systems as a whole. A quality management system is a critical tool for keeping projects on track and avoiding costly mistakes up-front, before they can turn into more serious issues.

Although implementing and maintaining a quality management system based on the ISO standards can be difficult, a company benefits more by engaging at all points throughout the project. Because expertise in building automation systems is very specific and constantly changing, consistent application of standards will help identify critical items that could throw an entire project off track. The ISO 9001:2008 standard provides a tried and proven framework for implementing a systematic approach to managing an organization’s quality processes to meet and exceed customer requirements.

In our experience at J.M. Electrical Co., Inc., we have found that following ISO 9001 guidelines and establishing our quality management system has added value to our company. As a management team, we have set goals, measured our progress in achieving those goals, and seen the benefits of our dedication. Our customers have given us a rating of “good” or “excellent” 96% of the time over the past five years, our vendors are managed efficiently, and we have virtually no turnover with our employees. The achievement of our goals through ISO 9001 has instilled confidence in both our team and quality management system, while solidifying our reputation in the marketplace.          

Enes is the chief financial officer of J.M. Electrical Co., Inc., located in Lynnfield, Mass. She has been her company’s authority on ISO standards and certifications for more than 10 years. She can be reached at [email protected].

About the Author

Shelley Enes | Chief Financial Officer

Shelley Enes is the chief financial officer of J.M. Electrical Co., Inc., located in Lynnfield, Mass. She has been her company’s authority on ISO standards and certifications for more than 10 years.

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