What Can SMEs Learn From ISO 9001 Principles

Every year businesses around the world lose well over $75 billion each year to poor customer service and billions more due to poor quality control. As a result, many businesses are switching to quality management systems to improve productivity and to deliver and provide better customer service. But unfortunately, most businesses only end up implementing these systems and policies at the surface level, unable to get the best returns. 

Small-medium enterprises (SMEs) are especially prone to this as they have the capital to afford better technologies but aren’t always prepared for the challenges that come with big technological changes. The silver lining is that this is a well-documented problem across various industries and to overcome and prevent those challenges, various frameworks have been developed, including ISO 9001.

In this article, we’ll take a close look at what ISO 9001 is and the five most beneficial principles that SMEs can learn from it. 

What is ISO 9001?

ISO 9001 is the international standard for a quality management system. It is the most used Quality Management System (QMS) standard, with over 1 million issued certificates to different organizations in 178 countries. 

The main goal of ISO 9001 is to enable SMEs to: 

  • exceed customer expectations
  • attain business goals
  • increase profitability


Although the requirements of ISO 9001 certification are generic and applicable to businesses in all industries, it provides a strong fundamental basis for businesses to thrive in delivering quality processes, products, and services. They really are SMART ways of doing business.

What are the ISO 9001 principles?

The latest version of ISO 9001 is ISO 9001:2015 and is based upon seven critical principles (along with three introductory sections). The principles sit at the core of ISO 9001:2015 and are essential in bringing an SME to the path of solid performance and greater consistency.

Here is a brief explanation of the seven principles;

  • Engagement of people – To maximize the benefit of QMS, you and your team should be open to ideas, suggestions, and sharing of experiences in your organization. 
  • Customer focus – Ensure to gather customer feedback to demonstrate prioritizing quality in your business enormously. 
  • Leadership – Develop a clear vision and strong leadership to guide your team on focusing on the organization’s mission and goals. 
  • Process approach – ISO 9001 Standard has a Plan Do Check Act (PDCA) principle to maximize a process-driven culture and enables you to plan and manage your business effectively. 
  • Improvement – Striving for continuous improvement is the leading business’ goal. Assessing threats and opportunities and measuring your efforts is key to driving success. 
  • Evidence-based decision-making – Always present reliable and up-to-date sources in the decision-making process to solve issues such as non-conformity.
  • Relationship management – Build relationships with suppliers and other stakeholders to acquire beneficial strategies.

Following the basic principles will not only achieve certification but also strengthen organizations. 

How does ISO 9001 help SME businesses?

SME businesses must achieve greater efficiency with a smaller capital and a small workforce. In essence, achieve more with less. This is where ISO 9001:2015 comes in. It provides a framework that SMEs can implement to achieve sustainable growth and consistency in customer service.

By adhering to these principles, businesses will also be issued with ISO 9001:2015 certification and gain the technical know-how to implement the system that will increase productivity, reduce costs, and improve customer satisfaction. Here’s how ISO certification benefits small businesses.

  • Ensures quality of products – ISO 9001 certification ensures that the materials provided by suppliers pass through different quality criteria. Suppliers are also mandated to undergo a re-evaluation to assure that there is continuous production of quality materials. 
  • SMEs develop an in-depth understanding of business information – Organizations need to define processes and data to meet the certification. It includes the organization’s context, risk management processes, customer feedback – whether good or bad, internal audits results, management reviews, etc. As a result, businesses will discover their strengths and weaknesses and address how they can improve or overcome such. 
  • Increase in revenue – ISO 9001 certification maximizes business opportunities locally and internationally. Many organizations prefer to partner with ISO-certified companies to ensure the quality of products and services. If you are a certified SME, you have the advantage to grow your brand’s reputation, boost customer retention, and increase profits more than your competitors. Additionally, consistent quality checks will reduce product failures, cut costs, and encourage better financial performance. 
  • Exceeds customer expectations – With more choices in a very competitive marketing, the biggest product differentiator for customers today is customer satisfaction and experience. ISO certification helps businesses deploy and expand customer loyalty programs. Customer confidence also increases as they know they are doing business with an internationally certified company.
  • Manage resources efficiently – Implementing IS0 9001 Quality Management System saves SME businesses time, effort, more importantly, money. It guides them through challenges other companies have already faced using proven methodologies, helping businesses maximize their savings. 

Wrap Up – Even if no ISO certification is not important to your organisation, the principles are a SMART way of doing business.

Small-medium enterprises (SMEs) must acquire structured and quality management to attract clients and contracts that increase the business turnover. The ISO 9001 QMS is designed to providing a cost-effective solution to SME businesses. It saves money by streamlining processes and improves product/service delivery using faster and more efficient tools. 

Getting started with remediation efforts for ISO 9001 style of work isn’t difficult but making the most out of the framework and aligning it with organizational goals requires technical expertise. AccountSure helps small-medium enterprises (SMEs) leverage every ISO 9001 principle using the latest in technological solutions as well as how to best integrate them into your business. 

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