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Last time we talked about how to start understanding your process through some easy metrics. This time, we’ll talk about what starting may mean. The most comprehensive word to describe this would be change.

Change is rarely easy; however, it is a constant (like death and taxes…).

What changes does a shop consider to make themselves more profitable? How about:

  • Work toward compliance with a standard (Gold Seal, CAR, etc.).
  • Standardize their work so it’s done the same way every time – what I call a system.
  • Training to make sure that everyone is doing what they are supposed to, in the way that meets requirements (environmental, quality, etc.).

This all requires change from the status quo, if the status quo doesn’t include these methods already.

What does ISO bring to the table?

Recognition. Instead of an internally recognize standard of attainment, it’s an international standard of attainment. Five years ago there were already over one million ISO 9001 certificate issued. Virtually every industry that ARA partners with – from government to manufacturers to insurance agencies to online retailers – have heard of and recognize ISO 9001 as a way of ensuring that minimum quality standards are met.

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Framework. The ISO 9001 standard provides a framework for improvement – requiring an organization to determine its primary business (auto recycling), its major operations (sales, dismantling, warehousing, shipping/receiving, etc.) and how it meets customer requirements.

Flexibility. You don’t operate your yard the same as others? That’s okay – ISO allows for flexibility in your operations. YOU determine how you want to run your yard and document it; ISO simply ensures that you meet the framework requirements. ISO allows flexibility based on your level of complexity, size of your organization, and other factors. They understand that a cookie-cutter approach is not the right way to go!

Customer confidence. ISO is in place to allow external folks (customers) to know that you meet a minimum set of requirements. When customers are more confident, they buy more easily. I’d rather buy from a company that’s certified than a company that’s not. Wouldn’t you?

Capture organizational knowledge. Do you have that one employee who knows everything – and when they’re not around, things don’t seem to work as well? ISO works to capture that knowledge so it’s available for others as well – minimizing your dependence on “walking encyclopedia” by training others in your organization on that knowledge.

Here is a subtle point:

You could be COMPLIANT with ISO 9001 without REGISTERING to ISO 9001 right away. So you can work towards ISO certification and get the benefits from implementing ISO without going through the formal registration process.

However, you then can’t advertise that your ISO 9001 registered; only compliant. The good news is that you can still get many of the benefits from implementing ISO internally, and when you are ready to get registered, it’ll be easy to do!

ISO 9001 itself is changing – going through a regular revision. However, when you look at the Quality Management Principles, there’s no big changes – they still hold true as guiding principles:

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  1. Customer focus
  2. Leadership
  3. Engagement of people
  4. Process approach
  5. Improvement
  6. Evidence-based decision making
  7. Relationship management

Isn’t that how we want to run our businesses, anyway? Focusing on customers, leading the organization, involving our folks, following a process that identifies ways to improve, making decisions based on data, and ensuring we listen to customers?

ISO is one of the ways you can formalize your requirements. It’s very similar to Gold Seal and CAR, so if you’re familiar with those requirements, ISO is easy. The key factor for ISO – external, international recognition.

The key benefit? A better organization, following the Seven Quality Management Principles.

This article was published in Automotive Recycling magazine, the official industry publication of the Automotive Recyclers Association, www.a-r-a.org