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Procedures & Small Business: Part 2

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6 Reasons to use ISO-style Work Instructions

An ISO certification identifies a quality company to other businesses.

And while many small businesses never pursue ISO certification, following the spirit of the ISO philosophy can still be worth the effort.

Trivia: ISO refers to the International Organization for Standardization but it is not an acronym.
ISO is one word, not spelled out, no periods (“eye-so” or “ice-oh”)
It comes from Greek: isos (equal)

The ISO philosophy in short: owning and using standardized workplace procedures makes things better.  An accepted procedure should state how a task is really performed, and the task should be performed exactly as stated in the procedure.

Here are 6 areas where ISO-style in-house procedures,
such as Safety & Work Procedures, Reporting Procedures and Test/Analysis Procedures, can impact a business.

1. Safety

Ensuring everyone is trained and follows approved procedures reduces the temptation to cut corners, improves confidence in others performing a task and encourages support of the safety culture.           

2. Environmental Protection

Human error has caused countless environment-damaging events. Following approved procedures exactly as written practically eliminates the chance of allowing a release due to misunderstanding the task being performed.

3. Efficiency and Consistency

Using approved procedures allows continuous improvement in results through controlled revisions to the procedures. Like the experimental method, knowing each exact step and result is the only way to know how to improve the process. This follows the do it once – the right way – every time approach.

4. Operating Cost

Well-written, approved procedures can reduce mistakes in operation or maintenance of equipment. Following these procedures also minimize variations in the time required to perform a task. In work like industrial maintenance, following good procedures increases the life span of parts and equipment while reducing the chance of damage and unscheduled shut downs due to equipment failure.

5. Marketing and Sales

If adopting an ISO-style work culture does everything listed so far, how can it not increase product quality, performance consistency and customer satisfaction? Showing clients exactly how a business intends to perform its service instills confidence that could be the competitive edge needed to secure a contract.

6. Morale

Don’t underestimate the cost of making it up as you go in terms of workplace morale. An enforced, ISO-style work culture not only shows clients a true commitment to safety and quality, it gives employees the tools and work environment to be confident in themselves, their supervisors and their co-workers.

If you could increase safety, profits, morale and employee buy-in with an ISO-style procedure program,
why wouldn’t you? 

The hurdle for many small and medium size businesses is simply getting started on the path to high-level procedure writing and adoption. If you think ISO-style procedures can help you in your job, please share this blog with your manager.

Kevin Fox is a technical writer at Contendo. He is a power engineer with a background in process operations, steel fabrication and military.