Customer Demand for ISO Compliances

01 June 2008

An associate of mine recently asked me review some questions he’d drawn up for an appraisal of a potential supplier of his. It was a comprehensive list but I came up with one addition question he could ask - whether the potential supplier had any international standards’ compliances, such as for quality management systems (ISO9001) or for environmental management (ISO14001).

This was something on my mind as my own company has recently undergone a similar accreditation at considerable time and expense. Then, a few days later I saw a leading software manufacturer advertise their recent ISO9001 accreditation on their homepage – why was this so prominently advertised? I started to question why I had thought that a good supplier should need to have ISOx certifications.

One of the benchmarks that I use for an agile business is a quick to response to customer demand and delivery of just what the customer wants. This is great from a customer perspective but I wonder how great the customer demand is for ISOx.

Certainly, companies hoping to win work from the Government (and other large organisations) need an increasing number of such compliances to be eligible for consideration - presumably to “tick the box” to meet Government targets. This approach is fuelled by a growing industry in compliance certification and audit.

I suspect that ISOx is used as a box-ticking screening mechanism - in a similar way to employers requesting degree-qualified applicants as a shortcut to thinking that that they will be appropriate for the job.

Now, what’s the ISO for excellence in customer-service?

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