Mailbag: ISO Not Easy

I believe that our company is part of a very small minority of registered companies that has benefited from an ISO 9000 registration -- but it certainly was not easy or without high cost. During the implementation process, we recognized the existence of a very strong pull away from core company strengths and activities and towards bureaucracy and paperwork-intensive activities. As leaders of our company, we believed that an effective ISO 9000 system could give us some much needed controls and structure for our company, but we were unwilling to give up any ground as far as our core strengths and competitive advantages were concerned. As a result, we believed that we could not afford to abdicate the responsibility of designing the system, it had to be done by us-the people who have basically been responsible for the overall company design. The implementation could be delegated, but not the design.

To make sure the system serves the business practices and not the other way around, the company's leaders had to stay intimately involved in all of the design processes. Having the company leaders so extensively involved is a very high price to pay (maybe too high some may say). However, not being involved (and leading!) results in an even higher price. In response to your question, I do not believe that there is a 'silent majority' out there because the true cost to design and implement a successful system (one that actually contributes to a business) is very high, probably higher than most are willing to pay.

Paul Hogendoorn
OES Inc.
London, Ontario, Canada

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