Part #4 in a Series: What Our ISO Certification Means to You
Over the next couple of months, I’m going to be talking periodically about how the things we do here at Superior Business Solutions in order to maintain ISO standards have a direct impact on you and your business. Each post will feature one of the key content areas listed in the requirements for certification.
Today, I’d like to focus on what ISO standards call a “process approach” to conducting your business.
The word “process” has become something of a buzzword in business today, but I’m wondering if you have ever really stopped to think about what it means. Do you picture a production line, or one of those cartoon factories with everyone moving with perfect, repetitive cadence with a widget popping out the end of the line at a regular interval with the whole thing scored by a whimsical music track.
Makes me think of Lucy…
Poor Lucy. LOL. So a “process” approach is necessary to ensure that all actions taken by a business are coordinated and continuously evaluated to help deliver a predictable, high-quality end result for customers and others involved.
Consistent Monitoring is Critical
No one intentionally designs a problematic process, of course. But often, once a process is established, its function is taken for granted, and problems that crop up are seen as inevitable, or just part of the expectation. A flawed process can result in diminished product quality, frustrated co-workers, work that is duplicated (or worse, work that falls through the cracks), and wasted resources. Smooth and steady flow is interrupted, and eventually customers notice and complain.
A true “process” approach never permits a “set it and forget it” mentality. Every process is monitored to ensure that it is accomplishing what it is supposed to. It is monitored constantly not only to minimize risks and head off problems, but also to identify opportunities to further enhance its performance. Operations become second nature, best practices are automatically embraced and incorporated, and errors are greatly minimized. Everyone is on the same page, and the page is very visible.
A Broader View
The commitment to “process” extends far beyond any manufacturing floor or order-fulfillment system. Every aspect of a business can be viewed as part of a larger process that involves satisfying customers and perfecting both the product and the experience each one receives.
An ideal process helps ensure that the all actions taken represent the most consistent, reliable and efficient way to achieve the company’s ultimate objective each and every time. That sometimes requires the perspective to see a bigger picture, in order to better accommodate and deal with variables that can impact the end result. A narrow approach to “spending less on gasoline” might mean scouring the town every few days to find the cheapest price. A “process” approach might raise the possibility of a more efficient car, better maintenance, or a car pool option.
Not Just Filling An Order, Meeting A Need
Take our promotional product management, for example. It would be easy enough to see it as “filling an order” for a customer. Let’s say that customer orders some logo pens, we get him a good deal on them, and if there are no snags, he gets what he expected and everyone is happy, right? Not really.
Our experience has taught us to see things a better way. If we build a strong relationship with that customer, we can instead see it as an opportunity to provide a better solution. Through discussions with that client, we can understand what his real mission is; what he hopes those pens will accomplish. Armed with that knowledge, we might be able to offer suggestions that will deliver an even more satisfying result. Maybe it’s a different item. Maybe it’s a different approach to communicating with his customers. Perhaps it’s a different shipment option that will work better with his travel schedule.
In the end, the results are more successful. And that’s because our process enabled us to be more involved and more helpful. The client is happy, of course. And we are excited to act more as a partner than a “pen provider.”
Proof in the Process
To meet standards for ISO certification, a company must demonstrate a process “mentality” in every facet of its business. It should be evident in the way salespeople input projects into the system; the way invoicing or material ordering is handled; even in the way Human Resources “onboards” new employees.
We have a natural appreciation for the concept, of course. We believe that Superior Business Solutions itself represents a smarter, more logical process for acquiring print, LEAN tools. and promotional products. We see it as a textbook example of how a little perspective can reveal a better way to accomplish goals. Process is not merely about avoiding errors and maximizing productivity, it should also be key to uncovering opportunities.
Want to talk more about how our “process” can help you and your business? Give me a call. I’d like to give you a few more examples of how this ISO standard has impacted us, and helped us serve our clients even better.