The ISO certification: an admission ticket or a trophy?

Security has become the main concern today, whether at the individual level we are talking about health, utility costs, general price developments, job stability, or at the company level in terms of the predictability of economic and legislative conditions, fuel prices, energy, raw materials, labour availability or consumer behaviour.

Într-o discuție onestă despre modurile în care companiile românești reușesc să fie performante, Director General, Systema, a declarat:

In an honest discussion about the ways in which Romanian companies manage to perform, CEO, Systema, said:

There are many successful examples among Romanian companies in different fields of activity. It is easy to see a kind of picture of the moment, even if various top rankings are not made and promoted, generally by turnover. For those who, by the nature of their profession, see business in more depth, the picture may be different. In the sense that some business models that are highly appreciated by the public, through cool services or products offered, attractive communication or brand-supporting influencers, are not necessarily healthy, viable in the medium or long term.

What do you see that ordinary people do not?

An ISO auditor is like a detective in a business environment. He is trained to follow certain connections between a company’s activities, information flows, a kind of nervous system monitored by qualitative and quantitative indicators. This is not a rigid perspective, this myth needs to be debunked. Neither the consultant who supports the company in the certification process nor the auditor comes in with a predefined template, with a file of procedures and says: from now on you must do it this way. A good specialist will help the company to understand the logic, the principles in the ISO standards and to create the right management system.

ISO certification is not exactly a popular topic. Why?

Far from being a hot topic in today’s business discussions, where various tools and methods for increasing the performance of companies are being discussed, ISO certification is an effective, mature, long-term solution for quality management in an organisation.

Părerile pe piață sunt împărțite. For some, the ISO certificate, which attests compliance with the specifications of international standards for quality, environmental, food safety, supply chain, labour or information management, is a trophy, obtained after substantial efforts to organise, document and verify internal processes and, above all, to get the whole team to apply them consistently.

For others, unfortunately even for colleagues in the industry, ISO certification is an entry ticket to tenders or various procurement processes. It’s a piece of paper that opens doors, but beyond that, it’s what the company can do that counts.
It happens quite often that that company fails to meet the expectations of its business partners, despite its best efforts, if quality management, for example, is only simulated, based on the logic – cheapest ISO certificate or ISO certificate for access to tenders.

The consequences are losses, of time and money for both parties (the purchaser and the potential supplier, for example), frustration and, echoing us, a reinforcement of the view that ISO certification would not be a useful tool.

How can you tell the difference between a real ISO certificate with a basis and one that only simulates meeting the requirements?

First of all, it matters who grants that certificate and which institution validates it. To draw a parallel, it’s like in insurance, we keep talking about the City, where the companies must themselves be insured by a reinsurer. As far as ISO certification is concerned, accreditation has several levels: national, the Romanian accreditation body being RENAR, or international, when certification bodies are recognised by EA-MLA (European Accreditation Multilateral Agreement), IAF-MLA (International Accreditation Forum Multilateral Recognition Arrangement) or ILAC-MRA (International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation – Mutual Recognition Arrangement).

The market for ISO certification services is mature. How do you see it evolving?

Maturity can be seen in many ways.

We can talk about experience and the ability to deliver results, but we can also talk about becoming anemic, losing agility and going off trend.

Either facet can become definitive.

Products and services have a lifecycle, where maturity is followed by decline, but when products reinvent themselves, they can be placed back in a much more attractive zone.

My opinion, interacting with many auditors, clients and consultants, is that the field of ISO certification is adapting to the new market requirements, in terms of flexibility, digitalisation, possibilities to adapt the management system as best as possible to the specifics of each business.

What must remain unchanged, however, is rigour.

Article published on capital.ro.