ISO Help for Small Businesses

ISO has opened a new section on its web site to help small and medium-sized enterprises achieve the benefits of implementing quality (ISO 9001) and environmental (ISO 14001) management systems.

According to ISO Secretary-General Alan Bryden, “Small and medium-sized enterprises may mistakenly perceive International Standards as being only for big business and government. In fact, they too can benefit from the state-of-the-art technology and management practices disseminated by International Standards, which also open the door to export markets and participation in global supply chains.

ISO has added a number of articles<> to the frequently visited ISO 9000/ISO 14000 section on its web site to make it easier for small businesses to implement the ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 standards that were being used by some 760,900 organizations in 154 countries at the end of 2004. The articles, which first appeared in ISO Management Systems magazine, cover the following topics of interest:

1. Taking the first steps towards a quality management system

Having made the decision to implement a quality management system, small businesses are often unsure just how to get started. This article takes managers of small businesses through the first steps and is based on advice given in the ISO handbook, ISO 9001 for Small Businesses. You can order a copy at the ANSI Web Site.

2. Taking the first steps in environmental management

This article explains clearly how small businesses can implement an environmental management system so that the process is not a series of hurdles, but rather a set of practical steps towards raising environmental and business performance.

3. Quality management consultants: instructions for use

A decision to implement a quality management system may be the organization’s first real contact with the world of ISO 9000, and many turn to an external consultant for help. This article gives some helpful pointers. It was written by the leader of the group of experts that developed ISO 10019:2005, Guidelines for the Selection of Quality Management System Consultants and Use of their Services.

4. Implementing ISO 14001: do you hire a consultant, or Do-It-Yourself?

This article helps managers of small businesses answer some essential questions. Should you hire a consultant to help with environmental management system implementation, or go it alone? What are the advantages and potential pitfalls? How can you get best value for money if you hire a consultant and what are the criteria you should use for choosing one?