Being able to develop a product, service, or business that can be exported to foreign markets provides a sustainable advantage for Canadian firms. Although Canadian businesses are typically known as global leaders for quality products, being certified under an international quality standard will help businesses to engage in additional trade opportunities. For many Canadian businesses, the best way to achieve this is through certification with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
ISO’s standards for quality management (ISO 9001) have recently undergone changes and formed a new standard, ISO 9001:2015. Businesses should consider becoming ISO certified, or recertifying with ISO’s new guidelines to ensure that they are able to maximize international success.
New Changes to ISO 9001 Quality Management Standards
In September 2015, the ISO 9001:2008 international quality standards were updated to reflect new risks and opportunities faced by global businesses. This update, known as ISO 9001:2015, provides enhanced support for sustainable economic growth, innovation, and protection of public interests. The following changes have been made to ISO’s standards:
1. High-Level Structure
Some changes have been made to quality management activities. The new structure will use a PDCA (plan, do, check, act) structure that guides businesses to execute improvements. Sections have been added to the former version of ISO, making the 9001:2015 version more thorough and up-to-date with modern management techniques.
2. Risk Management Principles
Each version of ISO 9001 introduces a new concept that helps companies to grow and become more sustainable. ISO 9001:2015 focuses on risk management principles, including analysis of risks and opportunities. This approach defines quality as the proper management of all risks and opportunities. Developing a greater focus towards risk management will mean businesses embrace an environment of continuous improvement.
3. Enhanced Dedication to Project Leadership
Company leadership must be at the forefront of quality management projects. As part of the newly added high-level structure, businesses must document the ‘Context of the Organization’. This requires the analysis and documentation of the organization’s purpose (mission and vision), the needs and expectations of interested parties, scope determinations, and the implementation of a quality management system.
4. New Language Inclusive of Non-Manufacturers
Older versions of ISO standards were mostly focused on quality management for manufacturers and those operating in industrial industries. Because of this, many service-based businesses have developed their own version of ISO, adapted for use in non-industrial professions. The new ISO 9001:2015 will have a more inclusive vocabulary that includes a variety of industries.
5. Removal of Quality Manuals
Businesses will no longer need to maintain quality manuals. New ISO 9001:2015 requirements provide greater flexibility for business reporting, including reporting systems that allow greater managerial agility.
6. Knowledge is Considered a Resource
When managing quality, human resources are as important, if not more important, than any other variable. Businesses are now making a conscious effort to attract and retain top talent to improve quality, reduce risk, and maintain competitive advantages. As such, the new ISO standards will emphasize human resources (knowledge) as a critical element of long-term quality.
7. Greater Context and Stakeholder Analysis
Management must consider the needs and expectations of interested parties, including customers, suppliers, and retailers. This will help to identify risks and opportunities that can be controlled in the future. This stage exposes weaknesses and provides an innovation opportunity.
How Businesses Can Upgrade to ISO 9001:2015
Becoming ISO 9001:2015 certified will help businesses be seen as more reputable on a global-scale and may help to export their goods or services more easily. Businesses who are uncertified, and those were certified with a previous ISO program, may become ISO 9001:2015 certified by receiving workforce training programs.
Many companies can even receive Canadian government funding to become ISO certified. The most popular option for businesses in Ontario is to use the Canada-Ontario Job Grant (COJG).
Canada-Ontario Job Grant (COJG)
The Canada-Ontario Job Grant (or any provincial variant of the Canada Job Grant) provides employers with up to 66% of eligible third-party training expenses. Businesses may use this program to train their management team about the new ISO standards, or to provide the training to employees. Course fees, lesson materials, and other fees will be paid to a maximum $10,000 per employee that receives training.
The Canadian Small Business Funding Guide
ISO recertification is just one of the projects that businesses can receive Canadian government funding for. Grants and loans are available for a variety of R&D, hiring, training, and business expansion projects.
The first step towards receiving Canadian government funding requires that businesses develop a plan for their projects and expenses. This will help to ensure that projects qualify for funding, and that the business can recover the maximum amount possible.
Not sure how to get started with your business’ proactive funding plan? Download Mentor Works’ Canadian Small Business Funding Guide to understand all business funding requirements.