© ISO Management Systems, www.iso.org/ims SPECIAL REPORT Standards and certification must deal with critical business issues Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance (LRQA) Uni m by Mike James t do ed ing K The third-party certification and assurance industry needs to play a proactive role in helping to ensure that organizations of all sizes are able to run their business in a safe, responsible and sustainable manner. The current economic situation makes that a more difficult proposition, but not a less important one. Safe involves Health & Safety and Security, with both issues being more prominent when staff numbers are reduced and economic pressures are raised. Responsible is all about making sure that business are leading the way in ethics, quality and product conformity. Sustainable is about the future of organizations, industries and the planet. Carbon footprinting, business continuity, the environment and organizational resilience are amongst the areas where assurance providers can provide valuable assistance to organizations in helping them to improve their sustainability. ISO Management Systems – March-April 2009 19 © ISO Management Systems, www.iso.org/ims SPECIAL REPORT In the 25 years that the global third-party certification industry has existed, it has evolved and grown from a “tick in the box”/“certificate on the wall” industry to one that addresses business critical issues to help organizations improve their efficiency and ensure that they are protecting their brand while meeting the needs of stakeholders. As proven during the economic downturn of the early 1990s, certification and assurance are crucial to an organization’s ability to survive and even thrive during difficult economic times.1) For many larger global organizations, research has shown that assurance services can help them streamline their business during lean times, making them more efficient during the downturn and better positioned against their competition for the inevitable upturn in the business climate. 2) For small and medium-sized organizations, research has proven that being certified against a wide scope of management system standards will allow them to compensate for their loss of existing clients by enabling them to tender for new business that requires certification as a qualifier. 3) This will allow them to expand their potential client base, again helping ensure their survival during tough times and providing a competitive advantage for the ensuing economic rebound. 20 ISO Management Systems March-April 2009 Integrated service Organizations are expecting their assurance provider to offer an integrated service, which goes beyond simply providing a certificate and delivers a measurable difference to the brand. To meet the needs of organizations during the economic downturn, the assurance provider of the future needs to meet several criteria : 1. Be clear as to the benefits of certification and assurance. It is no longer enough to offer “a certificate on the wall” 2. Provide a level of assurance that supports organizations, both in their industry as well as across all of their global locations 3. Have the capacity to link to other relevant systems, both within and outside of the organization 4. Offer assessors who truly understand the specific industry that the organization is involved in, as well the relationship to their local surroundings. In other words, an assurance body needs to offer industry expertise with local knowledge. Management systems and the global standards that measure and monitor their consistency and effectiveness have to continue to evolve. They have to be flexible enough to anticipate as well as respond to changes in the overall business environment, as well as help organizations proactively deal with their business critical issues. The future is about staying competitive in a safe, responsible and sustainable manner Mike James is Managing Director of Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance (LRQA), United Kingdom. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Web www.lrqa.com Assurance providers need to demonstrate a clear understanding of the potential risks and opportunities in the business world. Each of the most widely implemented management systems standards, including quality, environmental and health and safety, have the potential to significantly affect both an organization’s brand reputation and value. LRQA has always invested in supporting the work of the technical committees charged with developing the next gen- eration of management systems standards, schemes and specifications. Consequently, we have played and will continue to play a significant role in the development and revision of standards such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 22000 and many others. We have developed an integrated approach, Business Assurance, which takes a holistic approach to an organization and its implementation of management systems. It helps organizations to maximise their market share during trying economic times, allowing them to turn their competitive advantage into increased profitability during better economic times. The future of third-party independent assurance is about much more than the certificate on the wall, it is about helping organizations to stay competitive while meeting the needs of their stakeholders in a safe, responsible and sustainable manner. 1) Sources : Fitter Finance: the effects of ISO 9000 on business performance and Setting standards for better business, two pieces of independent research sponsored by LRQA during the 1990s, shortly after the last economic downturn. 2) 69 % said that certification led to gains in productivity and increased efficiency. Source : Setting standards for better business, based on interviews with 400 quality managers and senior managers from mechanical engineering, food, services and electronics sectors. 3) 69 % of managers said that certification helped them to bid for new tenders. Source : Setting standards for better business.