ISO certification – an important ingredient of business success – Article published in Baker and Confectioner Magazine

Whether you categorise your company in the ‘culinary arts‘ or the ‘food industry’, when it comes to recipes, things are taken very seriously. Why?

Because a variation in the quantity of ingredients, a change in working times or temperatures has an immediate, possibly disastrous effect on the final result. Of course, there are also happy accidents. But perhaps every one of you knows, from your own painful experience, that failure to stick to the recipe costs.

The same is true of ISO standards, except that both the abstract nature of the field and the regrettable superficiality with which they are sometimes viewed (by beneficiaries, consultants, auditors, the market in general) make the correlation between standards and performance more difficult.

The best-known ISO standard is 9001, the quality management standard, which starts from the questions “what do customers require of our products and services” and “how can we do this in such a way that we meet customer expectations every time?“.

From this goal – meeting customer requirements consistently – flow objectives for each department of the company, rules and procedures for the most important (if not all) processes in the company. Because every company is unique, it requires an effort to customise these rules and procedures, by those who know the company best and the direction in which they intend to develop it. Templates, even from the same industry, are only partially valid.

An organised way of working, based on sound management principles, as proposed by ISO 9001, is beneficial for any type of company, especially young ones. According to studies in the field, half of all businesses fail within the first 5 years of their life.

Knowing that about 50% of start-up entrepreneurs say that defining and optimizing their business model is at the bottom of their financial investment list, (confirmed by a survey conducted by Ernst & Young in 2016), it becomes imperative, in our opinion, to implement ISO 9001.

Many entrepreneurs we talk to complain that they feel “tied” to the company, that their presence is needed in many activities, to unblock situations and make the right decisions. On the one hand, one cause of the problem is the workforce (well-trained, available people etc. are hard to find and keep, staff turnover is high), which means that someone who “knows the ropes” needs to be there for them. There is an alternative, much more accessible: procedure. If all the operations that a baker, for example, or a supply manager, or a logistics park manager has to do are explained logically, step by step, in writing, and the emphasis is on new employees mastering them, then the manager’s intervention is only necessary in exceptional situations.

Business evolves, the market and customer requirements change. As a result, it is necessary to regularly update the quality management system and align it with the company’s new goals and vision.

Another big test or inflection point in the life of a company is when an entrepreneurial firm is growing (on the model of full founder involvement) and could leapfrog to a higher size category. But in that new context, the old model of running the business is no longer possible, exceeding the resources one person can allocate. Again, the answer is procedure, but with a higher degree of complexity, with a greater emphasis on management processes.

It’s just like making a cake: the most awaited, most rewarding stage is the decoration but there are many hours of work to get there … from cleaning, supplying, etc., stages that the end customer doesn’t see, but without which the expected result cannot be achieved.

The food sector is a sensitive one, because it can directly affect people’s health (for example, news about a product recall or a food poisoning is immediately picked up by all the press, even when it is at the stage of mere suspicions, and can compromise and even bankrupt a company) and by default, the field is regulated by a lot of state institutions. There is also an emotional component – given by the physiological pleasure of eating, but also by attributes such as “the taste of childhood”, “family”, “tradition”, “like in the old days”, used in advertising. For these reasons, we recommend that food businesses also implement ISO 22000 / HACCP 2018 – food safety.

The ISO 22000:2018 standard applies to all food businesses, regardless of their size and complexity, and includes HACCP principles and requirements related to the safety of the entire food chain: from the internal level of the organization, to the relationship with suppliers and customers, storage conditions, access to information on food products/services provided, development of new food products/services.

The most important advantages of ISO 22000/HACCP certification are:

  • Ensuring the hygienic quality of products (food safety)
  • Extending the shelf life of products
  • Reducing rejects and customer complaints
  • Customer and employee loyalty
  • Improving the company’s image and credibility on the market
  • Gain a competitive advantage
  • Increases opportunities to enter new markets
  • Ensures compliance with legal requirements

Achieving ISO 22000/HACCP certification demonstrates to customers that the organisation has the necessary techniques and conditions in place for complete food safety.

Systema

Systema has been representing United Registrar of Systems Ltd. in Romania for 12 years, with headquarters in the UK and offices in 50 countries, one of the world’s largest certification bodies.

In this capacity, our company has carried out over 33,000 management system certification audits (ISO 9001:2015 – quality management, ISO 14001:2015 – environmental management, ISO 45001:2018 – occupational safety management, ISO 22000 / HACCP 2018 – food safety, etc.) and over 500 technical assessments.

Systema Certificari is honored by the trust of more than 3500 clients, including Metrorex S.A., Agrana Romania, Dedeman, Ortoprofil, Mol Romania, Electrogrup, Agrosel, Arabesque, Bioeel, La Casa, Transgaz, Huawei, Moldcell, Europlast Romania etc.

In addition, Systema provides authorized qualification courses (more than 5,000 people qualified in trades such as quality system specialist, environmental auditor, forklift operator, crane operator, etc.) and distributes an innovative customer satisfaction monitoring system – Systema Insights.