Companies who produce products? or deliver services that are supplied to customers, whether countrywide, or worldwide need to have standards by which they measure their products? oe services in order to ensure that quality is maintained at a level that is acceptable. Products and services need to consistently meet the requirements of the customers, and standards should be ever-improving. The ISO14001 standard addresses many important factors relating to quality management.
ISO 14001 is a guideline by which organisations can measure their quality standards. This is a standard which companies can obtain a certification in, although this is not really required. This standard can be implemented by any company, regardless of size or field of activity or industry.
This particular standard is based on various quality management principles. The focus lies predominantly on customer focus, the role of top management in motivating and implementing the standards, the actual process, as well as a need for continual improvement of standards.
By implementing the standard set out in ISO14001, companies can ensure that their customers receive consistently high standards and good products and services. By doing so, the company will reap the many business benefits on offer.
The principles of ISO14001 are well-defined guidelines which assist any company in meeting the criteria and surpassing expectations. There are seven basic principles that should be adhered to. Customer focus, leadership, engagement of people, process of approach, improvement, evidence based decision making, and relationship management. Each of these principle carries with it benefits that are invaluable for any business.
Customer focus – The main aim of the standard is to meet and exceed customer expectations. By achieving this, your business will reap the rewards. Increased customer value, increased customer satisfaction, increased customer loyalty, enhanced repeat business, growth and enhancement of reputation of the business or organization, grow your customer base, and benefit from the increased revenue and market share.
Leadership – In order for any process to work in an organization, there needs to be direction and purpose. Good leadership will create unity, and conditions where the people involved are all motivated to achieve the company?s quality goals and objectives. A good leadership structure will ensure that there is an increased efficiency and effectiveness at achieving the quality objectives of the company, better co-ordination of the processes involved, improved communication between all levels within the business and a better understanding of the function of each, as well as increased development and improvement in the capability of the business and the staff to deliver the results that are desired.
Engagement of the people – The staff, as well as the management of an organisation are all required to work together in order to reach the desired quality standard results. An environment conducive to the enhancement of the company?s capability to produce and deliver quality and value. A company who has a staff and managment who are all geared towards the same end result will always perform more efficienctly, and reach objectives with effectiveness. Good communication will ensure that there is a better understanding of the company?s quality objectives as well as motivation to reach the goals set, a well-oiled machine headed in the same direction will ensure that involvement of all the staff to improve, each member of the team will have a desire to achieve and develop on a personal level, and trust will become a mutual factor between all members of staff regardless of designation. Team work is required to achieve the standards set out.
Process of Approach – Results will always be best achieved and with greater effectiveness and efficiency when the tasks being carried out are fully understood by all involved. Each activity needs to work together as a coherent system rather than individual tasks. Inter-related process is what the ISO 14001 quality management system is built around. By completely understanding how results can be achieved through the system is what gives the company the edge. Efforts are better directed at areas which are key to the process and where there is possibibility to improve on performance. Once implemented effectively and managed efficiently, resultscan become more easily predicted and consistent. This approach achieves best results when the objectives and goals of the process in clearly defined. Authority, responsibility and accountability for managing process must be established from the start. The necessary information required to properly operate the processes, monitor, analyse and evaluate them overall system must be readily available. Risk management is key to ISO 14001. Risks that can affect the process output and the results of the quality management system must be assessed and managed effectively.
Improvement – A company that is headed for success is one that is always focused on where improvement can be made. In order to maintain current levels of performance it is vital that a company focus on improvement at all times. Being prepared to adjust and react to change, whether internal or external, is a fundamental factor.
Evidence-based decision making – Decisions made on solid analysis and evaluation of all the information on hand are the decisions most likely to produce results that are desired by the company. This principle benefits the company in many ways and in doing so allows ISO 14001 to become the useful asset that it is meant to be. Decision making processes are improved, assessment of process information and the ability to achieve objectives is enhanced. Operation effectiveness and efficiency shows vast improvement. In order to ensure that this principle is effective the company needs to determine and monitor the performance of the company, make all the relevant data and information accessible to the relevant people and it must be accurate, reliable and secure. Suitable methods should always be used to evaluate and analyse data. Decisions and actions must be based on evidence, experience and intuition.
Relationship Management – A company must manage its relationships with all interested parties at all times in order to maintain and sustain success. Interested parties such as suppliers influence the performance of any company. Maintaining these relationships ensures that the impact of said parties on performance is optimized. The interested parties must understand the goals and values of your organization so that they can better cater to the requirements. A chain of supply that is well-managed will always provide a stable influx of goods and services.
It becomes apparent that there is far more to a successful operation than simply putting out good products or services. Each and every link in the process in imperative to success and improvement. ISO 14001 certification allows every company the opporutnity to take advantage of what is right in front of them, and reaching for the top.