ISO 9001 Business Performance Shows Why You Can’t Wait

It is a known fact that failing business performance can affect your profitability and whether you will be in business tomorrow.

The mindset of Quality has proven to make internal changes that affect failing business performance. In fact, studies conducted more than eighteen years ago among companies going through Quality Systems implementation have demonstrated improvements to business performance.

Read also: Should you wait until customers ask for your ISO 9001 certification?

The 1996 survey of 1,880 companies by Irwin Publishers (see the Dun and Bradstreet summary of this earlier ISO 9000 study) showed greater internal benefits, including greater quality awareness, positive cultural change, and increased operational efficiency/production.

Now, there are many additional benefits to be derived from ISO 9001 compliance that I would like to share with you. Are better internal communications, enhanced relations with customers and suppliers, and better quality of products and services important to you?

Think of ISO 9001 as the key to unlocking business performance (read also my post on 5 Keys to Build Quality). These five principles provided a common thread in many methods of quality and business improvement:

  • A continuous improvement philosophy
  • Consistency in everything you do
  • Teamwork in the workplace
  • Measurement and analysis of business processes
  • Training and education for all

Let’s examine these Quality principles from our ISO 9001 perspective.

A continuous improvement philosophy

ISO 9001 provides a framework for continual improvement through:

  • Establishing a Quality Policy and Quality objectives to demonstrate management commitment and set the direction for the organization.
  • Conducting internal audits to check that the direction is being followed.
  • Creating and maintaining effective Corrective and Preventive Action Systems to continue on the path to improvement.
  • Conducting periodical Management Reviews to confirm the effectiveness of the system and reset the direction when necessary. 

Consistency in everything you do

ISO 9001 provides the structure necessary to maintain consistency of results by:

  • Establishing clear lines of responsibility, authority and communications.
  • Ensuring clear understanding and communication of customer requirements.
  • Requiring documentation of key processes and control of the documents used to describe these processes and control of the records generated.
  • Controlling changes, such as changes in design, in processes and in documentation.
  • By requiring controls on purchased products and services, as well as, internal processes.

Teamwork in the workplace

  • ISO 9001 requires that everyone in the organization work to satisfy customer requirements and expectations.
  • Internal communications need to be designed so that everyone understands these requirements and their role in satisfying them. 

Measurement and analysis of business processes

It has been said in many ways that you can’t control what you don’t measure. ISO provides the framework for measuring and analyzing the key processes of the business.

  • ISO 9001 requires that company wide Quality Goals are established and that these goals be drilled down to the department level so that all key process goals are measured and analyzed for effectiveness.
  • Measuring, Monitoring and Analyzing process and product and service characteristics are required
  • During the Management Review meetings the effectiveness of the Quality Management System and its components are analyzed and actions required for improvement are planned. 

Training and education for all

  • ISO 9001 requires that all employees that could affect the quality of the product or service be qualified and competent in the jobs they perform to prevent delivery of nonconforming products or services.
  • Records of training need to be maintained.

Sharing your ISO 9001 experiences can help others understand the rationale for attaining compliance and registration.

Have you experienced any incidents where ISO certification helped you to improve your business that you would not have been able to obtain without it? Please share your experiences in the comments section.

QMA specializes in leading companies in the implementation of Quality and Safety Systems, such as, ISO 9001, AS9100, ISO13485, FDA GMPs and OSHA compliance. If you have a question or would like our assistance in your ISO 9001 implementation, contact us.

IIPP Innovative Techniques Get Employees Attention for Safety

Part II of Injury and Illness Prevention Programs (IIPP), following announcement of OSHA’s pending standard.  

Safety is not the most exciting subject to speak about that will hold an audience’s attention. But to get your employees’ attention, take a look at these innovative techniques for safety program implementation.

You can think of injecting the element of surprise or unexpected humor to help deliver the message. These persuasive examples will illustrate how to take proactive steps for safety in your workplace.

Example 1 – Don’t Walk on By

The Safety music video, Don’t Walk on By produced by Nick James Productions is cleverly done, showing how easily we get accustomed to our surroundings. Consequently, we start overlooking important safety clues that could prevent serious injuries.

How can you utilize the Don’t Walk on By theme?

  • Add your spin on the theme, using a statistic of workplace injuries and illnesses, as well as costs associated with people not doing anything about it (walking on by).
  • Segue into performing your safety audit.
  • Demonstrate how your organization protects employees from workplace injuries and illnesses as well as saves costs through a workplace safety program.

Example 2 – Horror Movies: Workplace Safety Videos Pack a Punch

The recent EHStoday article, titled Horror Movies: Workplace Safety Videos That Pack a Punch consists of a set of impactful commercials produced by the Ontario Worker Safety and Insurance Board called Prevent It.

These short and brutally honest vignettes may be seen as disturbing by some, because of the dramatic way in which accidents are depicted. In a split second an employee’s life can be turned upside down.

How can you utilize this theme?

  • Always be on guard to potential hazards in the workplace and at home. The point is made that “there really are no accidents.”
  • Every accident can be prevented if the employee (or employer) had done something different.

QMA will address your specific injury prevention training and consulting needs, whether you are a large or small employer. Together, we will develop a strategy and a program that fits your industry and organization. For a free consultation, please complete the contact form and we will contact you.

IIPP Continual Safety Improvements Address OSHA Standard

The direct cost of the most disabling workplace injuries and illnesses in 2008 amounted to $53.42
billion in U.S. workers compensation costs, more than one billion dollars per week. This money would be better spent on job creation and innovation. Injury and illness prevention programs (IIPP) are good for workers, good for business and good for America.

Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor. Source:

Nationally, there are 34 states that require or encourage employers to develop an IIPP; 15 states make IIPP mandatory. Although in the early stages, OSHA is writing a new standard that will require employers to develop a program to help find and fix hazards in the workplace.

I have previously reported on this blog about taking a proactive approach to IIPPs (see OSHA’s strategy: Plan, Prevent, and Protect). According to OSHA, these programs can substantially reduce the number and severity of workplace injuries and alleviate the associated financial burdens on U.S. workplaces. For further reference, the new OSHA Fact Sheet is now available.

Implementing Continual Safety Improvements  

The most successful injury and illness prevention programs are based on a common set of key elements. These include:

  • Management Leadership
  • Worker Participation
  • Hazard Identification and Assessment
  • Education and Training
  • Program Evaluation and Improvement

QMA will help you implement and maintain a complete program that utilizes these elements by:

  1. Developing and establishing a strategy for injury and illness prevention that involves all employees in the effort, by
  2. Training and educating employees in safety awareness, hazard recognition and mitigation, and OSHA mandated topics, such as, HAZMAT* training for chemical handling and by
  3. Conducting audits and assessment aimed at your continual improvement needs.

* HAZMAT: hazardous material training, also known as “Right-to-Know”

QMA will address your specific injury prevention training and consulting needs, whether you are a large or small employer. Together, we will develop a strategy and a program that fits your industry and organization. For a free consultation, please complete the contact form and we will contact you.

ISO 9001 Implementation: Should You Wait Until Your Customer Asks?

I often hear from clients and prospects that they would consider implementing an ISO Quality System only after “my customers start asking for it.” Is this a wise strategy?

In reality, by the time customers ask for your certification, it is often too late. Let’s examine why that “waiting” strategy frequently results in huge lost opportunities.

Your customer may not have flexibility to wait for your ISO certification.

Several months are required to develop the documentation and prepare for a certification audit even when a mature quality system is already in place.Your prospect may not have the patience or the flexibility to wait for you to become certified.

For instance, a marine parts manufacturer lost several large contracts due to the lack of ISO certification. After registering to ISO 9001:2008, the company was able to bid and secure a multi-year five million dollar contract with a Middle Eastern luxury yacht manufacturer only a few weeks after passing the certification audit. The bid request specifically stated that ISO9001 registration was a pre-requisite for participation.

Similarly, a Miami medical device distributor failed to qualify for bidding on several large contracts with South American hospitals due to the lack of ISO registration. After becoming certified, he was accepted as an approved vendor by many of these hospitals and was invited to participate on numerous solicitations.

Supply chain partners are required to be ISO certified.

Globally, more than one million organizations have become registered to the basic ISO 9001 international standard ( One reason for this high number is that many large companies today require their supply chains to be certified to the standard as well. The certification validates that the supplier has developed a compliant Quality System that has been recognized by an accredited and independent third party.

Dealing solely with ISO certified suppliers, the customer eliminates or reduces the need to conduct its own supplier audits. ISO registered companies, large and small, normally seek other certified companies and include the registration as an element of its vendor selection criteria.

ISO registration reduces the necessity for the customer to conduct on-site audits at the suppliers’ facilities.

As companies supply chains spread over the globe, the need to conduct supplier audits is a drain of resources for both customer and supplier. Registration to the standard provides assurance that the supplier has implemented a Quality System that will meet the customer’s primary expectations for product and service quality and on-time delivery.

Lack of certification serves as an early screening criterion on deciding what suppliers to consider.

It is very likely that some of your competitors have already registered and thereby attained a competitive edge over your organization. Of course, many customers will ask for your ISO certification. Unfortunately, others will not even ask. Like a skill that is missing from a job candidate’s resume, a lack of certification serves as an early screening criterion on deciding what suppliers to consider. The ISO certified companies will gravitate towards those suppliers that have already been registered.

An ISO certified company adds value and competitive advantage.

ISO certified companies also want suppliers that speak the same “language” and are more responsive to their Quality requirements. ISO registered suppliers understand the standard’s requirements for controlling and measuring processes and will generally be more cooperative with corrective action investigations to resolve problems promptly. To maintain registration, the ISO registered supplier must demonstrate that he has consistently met product requirements and continually improved its processes to attain full customer satisfaction.

Once registered, a company can announce its achievement to the world and use the new prestige and added value to gain competitive advantage.  Your marketing media is used to publicize the accomplishment including: web site and blogs, press releases, email signatures, email campaigns, stationery letterheads, directory listings, and so on.

The waiting strategy can result in lost business and some of these losses may never be revealed because of early disqualifications. The costs of implementation and maintaining registration are nominal compared to the potential loss of revenues and profits.

Sharing your ISO certification experiences can help others understand the sales and marketing rationale for attaining registration.

This article has covered the sales and marketing rationale for attaining registration. My next article will discuss how ISO 9001 implementation will help improve the way you do business.

Have you experienced any incidents where ISO certification helped you get business that you would not have been able to obtain without it? Please share your experiences in the comments.

QMA specializes in leading companies in the implementation of Quality systems, such as, ISO 9001:2008, AS9100, ISO13485 and FDA GMPs.

But Mommy, You Said…

by Enrique Bekerman

When my son Randy was 4 years old he invited a neighborhood friend to play. My wife admonished the boys to take “only one toy out at a time”. My son agreed, but when my wife returned, to her dismay all of Randy’s toys were scattered all over the room.

Randy, noticing my wife’s obvious displeasure, quickly protested his innocence by proclaiming “but mommy, you said to ‘take one toy out at a time’, and that’s what we did!”

Clearly, my wife was disarmed by this remark, since the boys had followed her instructions literally and taken every toy out one at a time! She had neglected to instruct the boys to replace each toy before taking the next one out

Doesn’t this story ring a bell with you? How often do you encounter that your spouse, colleague or employee totally misconstrues what you are saying? Unfortunately, often this “crossing of wires” is only discovered after the damage is done. We tend to leave the obvious out, as in the story above, assuming that it is equally obvious to the listener; but that is not always the case.


Getting Back to Basics in Quality Improvement


Essential for survival, a strategy of getting your organization back to basics can make the difference in obtaining significant bottom line results.

How do you build quality in your company?

By applying 5 basic principles, your company can experience significant improvements in a short period of time.  At Quality Manufacturing Associates, we train and consult on continuous quality improvements methods. Our clients have seen rapid improvements even before their initiative is fully implemented.

To help you take the first step, we would like to give you our abridged version of the presentation we have given to hundreds of clients – “5 Keys to Building Quality.”  It outlines the principles that are essential to build Quality in any organization.  Find out what other clients have said.  Contact us to help you accomplish important quality initiatives.

Your competition is improving their systems on a daily basis; so don’t wait, before it’s too late.

Request your free copy now5 Keys to Building Quality.

Zippy is Back!


In case you missed us last time – check out our introductory video of the Zippy Car Workshop!

Public Workshop 

This dynamic four hour workshop enables participants to learn the basic principles of Lean Manufacturing in a no-risk environment. Principles are taught in the classroom and then practiced in a hands-on factory simulation.

In three successive factory simulation rounds the participants convert a traditional factory to a Lean factory environment. Facilitators track the quality and financial metrics from round to round to show the benefits to be derived from a Lean Transformation.

The Lean principles are explained so that its benefits can also be applied to office, service and other non-manufacturing environments.

For a more detailed description you can visit our events page  or watch the brief introductory video.

In-House Workshop

Zippy is available for in-house delivery at your site. For a quote, email Enrique Bekerman,

Learning Lean by Live Simulations

Why bother with the extra expense of a Lean live factory or office simulation?

Live factory simulations have been used  for the last several decades to demonstrate the Lean concepts.  Electronics, clocks, cars, toys, boats, airplanes, electrical connectors,  pens, flashlights have all been popular.  Office simulations to eliminate waste in paperwork/information have also been used. Materials used range from actual products (pens, switches) to more whimsical demonstrations  (Lego assemblies, wooden toys, paper airplanes).

The idea behind all these simulations is to combine classroom learning, through lectures or Power Point presentations, with an actual demonstration of the Lean concepts.  Typically, the workshops are broken into several sections or rounds to represent shifts or days at an assembly operation.

The first round starts  by intentionally demonstrating some of the wastes commonly found in a traditional manufacturing environment.  These inefficiencies are used as talking points for the classroom session.  During the classroom sessions the Lean principles are gradually introduced and practiced during a simulation round.  Quality rejects, amount of product shipped, on-time delivery, and profit/loss are tracked and reviewed after each round.  Subsequent rounds gradually introduce the Lean tools and concepts until the final round representing a Lean Enterprise.

The benefits of Lean including customer satisfaction, waste elimination are demonstrated physically and financially in a way that can be easily understood and applied.  A good facilitator will encourage the students to make the connection between the simulation exercise and their workplace environment.  The workshops are typically presented in skit form to add some levity to the experience.

Because a Lean transformation involves a cultural change, it is essential that everyone in the organization participate in the simulations.  Teamwork and the need for Continuous Improvement are emphasized in the classroom and simulation exercise.

I have participated and facilitated many of these workshops.  I have also, at the client’s request limited the introduction to to Lean to a one or two hour classroom presentation.  In my experience, the latter do not generate the same level of  learning or enthusiasm as in the simulation workshops.  The hands-on experience obtained in the simulation, the facilitator’s ability to relate the simulation to the “real world” experience and the round-to-round factual comparison of the benefits of Lean, in my opinion,  make  simulations a superior method of  preparing an organization for a successful Lean transformation.

Have you had experience in a Lean simulation?  Do you think it is worth the extra time and investment?

It should be noted that workshops typically take a full day. QMA as developed the Zippy Toy Car simulation, a dynamic 4 hour workshop that  in 3 rounds covers the  most important concepts covered in the longer workshops. It is far less disruptive and cost effective. It is designed for in-house delivery, but a Public Workshop is offered periodically.

Enrique Bekerman



How to Start a Real World Lean Transformation by Live Simulation



Visions of reducing inefficiencies for real-world Lean transformation in manufacturing, distribution, and supply chain operations are only the tip of the iceberg.   Imagine what a live workplace simulation workshop can do for your organization.

A couple of questions are often asked: “Why does anyone need Lean?” and “Would the time and expense of a live simulation workshop be justified?”

Let me answer this first question. If you’re not familiar, Lean is a continuous improvement initiative focused on providing customer value and eliminating waste from processes. The end result is a streamlined operation  able to deliver higher quality products on-time while using fewer resources.  For an explanation of Lean basics you may refer to an earlier blog article .

A live factory simulation workshop is a hands-on technique used for more than twenty years to demonstrate basic Lean concepts. The simulation mode brings in a fictitious operation to serve as a learning tool.  Simulation exercises are conducted to demonstrate different types of waste, and their elimination, as well as relate the techniques learned to “real world” scenarios.

The format of a simulation workshop is divided into several sections or rounds to represent each of the shifts (or days) of the fictitious production facility. Participants are part of the process – through every wheel, screw, and nut assembly. Much like a sports game that excites and draws everyone together to win, Lean simulation workshops have this same effect.

First round starts by intentionally demonstrating the chaos and waste commonly found in a traditional manufacturing environment. Lean principles are gradually introduced and practiced during the subsequent simulation rounds. Discussions open up to talk about what works well and what waste may be eliminated from the process.

Quality rejects, inventories, product quantities shipped, on-time delivery, and profit/loss are tracked and reviewed after each round, so that the effect of waste elimination is clearly identified and quantified.  The simulation continues to introduce the Lean tools and concepts during each round until the final round represents a Lean Enterprise.

At this point, the total benefit of the Transformation can be assessed.  In addition to improved customer satisfaction resulting from product quality and on-time delivery, other physical and financial benefits are demonstrated.  A Lean transformation involves cultural change, and therefore, essentially everyone in the organization should be part of the simulation exercises. Teamwork and the desire for continuous improvement are emphasized throughout the workshop.

Simulation materials may range from actual products like pens and switches to more whimsical demonstrations using Lego assemblies, wooden toys, and paper airplanes. The goal is still the same: eliminating waste. In fact, office simulations have, in a similar way, focused on the elimination of  paperwork and information capture not integral to business objectives.

One of the most difficult choices people have to make is to commit to starting this journey to implement Lean practices. Often the sentiment is that a simulation takes too much time.  In particular, one business owner recently told me “we don’t have the time to stop production to do that kind of training.”

Is there ever ‘the right time’? Most business people would suggest, now, more than ever, is the right time. To prove this point, a Lean transformation would realistically open up opportunities for business, improve the bottom line, and conserve time and expense. That is exactly what happens in a successful Lean transformation. The simulation workshop has become a necessary first step for a successful implementation.

The QMA network of quality experts offers workshops and facilitation to guide organizations on their Lean journey. We don’t claim to be visionaries or missionaries, just that we’re able to demonstrate the most cost effective ways to build more value into the business.

In our experience facilitating Lean transformations, a live simulation provides a higher level of understanding and fully engages employees in accomplishing these business goals through a successful Lean transformation.

The hands-on experience, combined with our in-depth Lean expertise and guidance, enables participants to relate their own “real-world” experience. And the round-to-round factual comparison of Lean practices and benefits, in my opinion, make simulations a superior method of preparing an organization for a successful Lean transformation.

One further note: Workshops of this kind would typically take a full day.

QMA has developed the “Zippy Toy Car” Simulation (another way to say we get it done quickly), a dynamic four-hour workshop of  three rounds that covers the most important concepts as compared to longer workshops.


The Lean concepts you learn can be literally taken back to your workplace and practiced the same day. The shorter and dynamic format maintains a high level of energy while reducing the investment of time.

Our popular Lean Office simulation workshop takes place at the “Department of Approvals”, a simulated service organization workshop, participants progressively implement Lean tools to experience a transition from a traditional office setting to an efficient Lean service environment. Participants continuously track progress of improvements by collecting data in a report card and monitoring performance measures through each simulation. The workshop leads management and workforce teams through the application and use of Lean tools in making immediate process improvements.

Our training is designed for in-house delivery, but is periodically offered as a public workshop.  Our next workshop,co-sponsored by ASQ South Florida, is scheduled for April 20, 2012.  See our Events page for more details.

Have you experienced a Lean simulation?  Do you think it is worth the four hour investment and expense?