SMEs are one of the groups of businesses that benefit the most from quality management systems, more so than large organisations.
So what is a quality management system or QMS? A QMS is the structure and processes that your business needs in place to ensure that all of its internal processes are working towards delivering a quality service. Internal processes can include a whole range of procedures that businesses have in place. Some are common to all businesses and others are more specific. For example:
- Complaints procedure
- Tracking sales
- Storing customer data
- Filing systems
- Tracking marketing spend
- Monitoring product quality
A quality management system ensures that all of these processes are streamlined and work together to support the running of your company. QMSs ensure that the expectations of both the customer and the company are met – keeping everyone happy!
So why shout a SME think about implementing a QMS? Many smaller businesses ask this question because normally they don’t think that they need to formalise the running of their company. There is some truth to this because when you are your business or you only have a few employees you will generally know what it happening in all areas of your business. But when you grow to even five or more employees, different people will have their own ways of doing things that could conflict with each other, wasting valuable time.
If you run a business that is serious about growing, having a robust quality management system in place is imperative. By ensuring that your business processes have been set now, you will save huge amounts of time and stress later down the line. Internal business processes support your business in a period of growth or change. Think of your internal business processes as framework of your business. A strong framework can easily be added to, but a weak one will collapse should anything be changed. If you are safe in the knowledge that all of the administrative tasks and that the quality of your company is taken care of, you are free to spend more of your time and resources growing your company and making sales.
So how do you implement a QMS? You can choose to set up a quality management system yourself. There is a plethora of information readily available on the internet that explains the processes you might like to include. However, it is very time consuming and many people find it very stressful to think about their company in this way and standardise everything. Hiring a consultant to help is another approach than some companies like to take however this can be costly if you want someone with a lot of experience.
You might like to consider a QMS certification. ISO 9001 is the internationally recognised standard for quality management systems. The main advantage to choosing this option is that you will be allocated a trained and experienced consultant who can work with you and your company to formalise your internal processes. They will probably spend around a day with you talking about your current processes and identifying areas for change or improvement. They will then write up all of your processes for you and present them to you in a company handbook. This handbook can then be used in the future for training staff or referring to when you are unsure of what to do.
Having a robust quality management system in place as a small business can really help you set yourself apart from your competitors especially where you can say that your company has been assessed for quality. Investing in a QMS for your business will be sure to save you time and money, and help your business to be as efficient as possible.
About The author: Laura Jennings writes on behalf of QMS International. A UK based organisation providing ISO certifications worldwide.