The question what is ISO , is often the first thing that comes to mind when your boss or immediate supervisor tell you that the organization needs to become ISO standardized. So the question remains “What is ISO?” ISO is a standard of metrics and analysis used to determine quality of an organization and it’s derived products developed by the International Organization for Standardization. The ISO standard is really eight specific management principles, that when utilized will increase the performance and quality of an organization. Those eight principles break down into the classes of standards on which ISO is based. Probably the best way to familiarize yourself with the ISO principles is to buy any recommended books on the subject but, before you make a purchase here are the basics of what is ISO.
What is ISO by the numbers:
ISO is easily broken down into the eight components on which the standardization is based and they are as follows:
- Customer Focus: Organizations are dependent on their customers, therefore a top priority is to meet customer needs and exceed customer expectations. Obviously the focus on the customer will have to be balanced by and against the needs of the organization with a strong dependence on metrics to analyze results. What is ISO in this relationship should be seen as a systematized process to measure performance and develop an understanding of the needs of the organization to meet the expectations of the customers.
- Leadership: When systematizing and developing doctrine to develop the ISO principles leadership will dictate the process and acceptance by the others in an organization. Leaders are able to translate intent to the organization and give direction that gets others fully vested in the process and goals of an organization. Activities should be implemented in a unified way and analyzed for effectiveness with the miscommunication between levels minimized. What is ISO for leadership should be seen as a tested approach to help get everyone in the organization working for the same end goal.
- Involvement of People: People are the backbone of any organization and using the ISO principles a standardization for the involvement of people will be implemented. A common question I confront when helping to develop a systematized approach to ISO implementation is; What is ISO going to do to help the average employee to increase performance? By implementing ISO principals there will be a system for developing accountability for an individuals performance to help the organization understand their underlying effect on the organization as a whole. People will better be able to see their individual contribution to the goals which should translate to optimization though human capital development.
- Process Approach: ISO principals help to develop a systematized approach to activities and resources. Resources and the use of those resources are analyzed to lower costs and improve cycle times. By applying ISO metrics risks and consequences of specific tasks will be become more apparent in a more logical accountable fashion. Systematically defining operation necessary for a desired outcome can drastically improve overall performance.
- System Approach to Management: Managing, understanding and identifying all the processes and there relation to goal realization will help align goals and achieve best results. What ISO ‘s Structured process does is, it will help harmonize integrated processes providing efficient management of product flow and development.
- Continual Involvement: ISO is more than a quick fix or fad business management system. ISO makes continued involvement an important part of organizational capital investment. A focus on improvement on an operational level will help the organization reach a strategic intent.
- Factual Approach to Decision Making: It is often said that decisions are made by emotion and people simply use facts and logic to rationalize decisions already met. ISO principals dictate that decisions will be made based on the facts and analysis. Having a system in place to make sure facts and data are correct as well as making that data available are also aspects of what is ISO to the decision making process.
- Mutually Beneficial Supplier Relationships: Just as an organization relies on its customers it also depends on those that supply the organization. These entities are in a mutually beneficial relationship that should with the proper ISO principals in place build to generate future value for both parties.
What is ISO? Well it may very well be your organizations first step to total performance optimization and business model value stream analysis.