Article - An essay in the management myths series!

Is ISO a bureaucracy?

The immediate answer is no and no again. So where does this opinion come from?

At some point in the market there were a lot of people implementing ISO systems, especially ISO 9001. Prices fell. Prices dropped low because, after all, an ISO 9001 system is nothing but documents. So a clever consultant for 2-3 thousand zlotys brought ready documentation to the company where the system was implemented. The company liked it, it did not have to do anything. The consultant helped and the certificate was granted. Half a year later, the company complains what the system is for, it is just paperwork. The reason is that the consultant brought ready documentation and adjusted it in 10% for this company. The fact is that the documentation was from a similar company in the same industry (hopefully). However, 90% of this documentation was from another company with a different system and management style! The company adapted to the documentation and not the documentation to the company. It is the same when a company implements a boxed IT system without consultation and adaptation. The system hinders, not helps.

Can this situation be remedied? Yes, it can. First of all, the ISO 9001 standard does not require any paper documents. The consultant should listen and understand how the company works. An experienced adviser can suggest improvement actions for the company. But most of all, the adviser should build the documentation on the basis of the company's system and management style. The criteria that a well implemented ISO 9001 management system should meet:

  • Provide information on how the company operates.
  • Support decision-making by management.
  • Support management of the company.
  • Do not cause additional, unnecessary work.
  • Do not increase employment.

These slogans seem unbelievable. At BPI we know they are true, we have improved ISO 9001 more than once after other consultants. We know that a good ISO system works like this. For example, we require a record of when a machine breaks down and starts working again. With this information, we know how many of our machines are running and how many are down. This knowledge is essential to verify the efficiency of the maintenance service and to make decisions about investments. In extreme cases, it may turn out that our company does not have inefficient employees (as we thought), but machines that are standing still more than they are producing! We help the company gain the ability to read the data provided by a well implemented ISO 9001 system. This data should support the work of every manager, president/owner. After a while the company should not understand how it functioned without this data.

Can a well implemented ISO 9001 system improve the management system in a company?

Yes, provided that the company already has a management system. It is best if it has a system, with classification, at the MRP II level. MRP II manages company resources through planning. If the company is at a lower management level (and it may be a large company), then ISO should not be the aim, but the aim should be to create a good management system. Later on, when the management system works well and brings benefits, if necessary, you can implement ISO 9001 or others.

We will prepare a separate article on management systems other than ISO.