Previously we touched upon whether or not a certificate is worth it. This post led to quite some discussion, with strong opinions from both sides. However, looking at Quality Management in general you can ask the question, “Does a certificate add value, and if so, how?”
As you might know, we believe Quality Management is important for everybody in the company. Every person has an influence on the Quality of the product or service the company produces. But to do this, is a certificate required other than a customer requirement? Lots of companies deliver high-quality products, but most of them are not certified.
Of course, a certificate is not required to produce high-quality products. Every company that has a great focus on Quality will be able to produce high-quality products and services regardless. The people in the organisation mainly determine quality, not by the certificate. However, the certificate can give a certain kind of guidance and structure that can help a lot. There are certain things that need to be formalized, such as continuous improvement. Having the Management System audited on a regular basis puts back the focus on it. In the end, it all depends on how the management system is set up and how the employees use it. Nevertheless, there are always industries where you simply cannot operate without the certificates.
A standard forces a certain structure in the Management System. Yes, with most standards, you have quite some freedom on how to set up the Management System, but there are certain requirements for a company to work accordingly. A great example is the focus on continuous improvement. These can feel rigid in a way but they also give a great framework when you are trying to get some kind of structure in the organization. This structure can also work great as a playbook for expansion when the company wants to keep a certain level of Quality throughout different branches in different parts of the world.
Force for Change
In every company, there is room for improvement. However, convincing people to move and change the way they work isn’t easy. An advantage of having an auditor coming in every year is that as a Quality Manager, you can leverage them to force internal change. When speaking with hundreds of Quality Managers, we hear over and over again that they do this. However, when you use this tactic, never tell the people that the auditor is forcing this change, as this will not go very well. Not being certified makes it harder or even impossible to use this practice.
At the end of the day, a certificate isn’t really required, but it can help the company quite a lot in structuring the Quality Management within the company. Also, the external audits can be some kind of leverage to create change.