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Rob Fenn


Can You Achieve ISO Registration Without Management Buy-In?

Engage management through their priorities and profit

Published: Tuesday, December 24, 2013 - 13:07

So, you’ve decided that you really need to embark upon ISO 9001 registration. Perhaps it’s being requested by a client, or you’ve worked at a company before that had implemented it to great effect. Or maybe you’ve just been convinced by the numerous studies that have elucidated the strong benefits of ISO 9001 registration. However, managers don’t seem as convinced. You have the authority to implement the system, but management simply won’t contribute or cooperate. Perhaps they just want you to get on with it, and let them know when it’s done. So, does this matter? Can a company register to an ISO standard through the drive of just one person?

Unfortunately, management buy-in is essential to ISO 9001 success. The ISO handbook specifies that top management must provide “evidence of its commitment to the development and implementation of the quality management system.” It is imperative that they are involved in the writing of the quality policy, the definition of objectives, and that they conduct management reviews. If you do not have management support, you simply cannot implement ISO 9001.

This makes ensuring management buy-in absolutely crucial to ISO success. This is often easier said than done, however, here are some key methods to persuade management that ISO registration really is in their best interests:

Talk money
Numerous studies have linked ISO 9001 registration directly to profits; make management aware of these. Words like continual improvement and employee engagement may fall on deaf ears, but most managers will respond to the prospect of increased profits and reduced overheads.

Use negative arguments
Sometimes, it’s more powerful to talk about what you’re missing out on than what you could gain; benefits can seem out of reach and unlikely. You may well have concrete cases of missed opportunities due to not being registered to ISO 9001. Highlight these cases to management and ideally present them with an amount of money that’s already been “lost.”

Look at it from their point of view
You might be a quality aficionado who strongly understands the benefit of improvement, but to convince others that what you know is right, think about their priorities. What pressure is the company under? What are the key objectives for the next five years? If you can tie registration in with the above you’ll have a much easier time convincing management of its value.

Be objective
Leave personal opinions about your workplace environment and current standards at the door. Look at the bigger picture. Be as objective as possible and you’ll make a much more convincing argument.

Find a sympathetic ear
If there is anybody in management who is in favor of registration, try to engage them in your efforts. Explain to them your position, why you think your company should embark upon registration, and what you perceive as the current obstacles. Often, all you need is the support of the right people, and suddenly management is a lot more attentive to your ideas.

Hopefully the above tactics will work for you. If not, take comfort in the fact is that ISO 9001 registration is becoming a requisite in a number of industries. This, combined with high-profile studies, means that even the most skeptical managers are waking up to its benefits.


About The Author

Rob Fenn’s picture

Rob Fenn

Rob Fenn is a director at the British Assessment Bureau, a UK-based certification body. Fenn is an experienced published writer and speaker on ISO's management standards, with a keen interest in helping organizations achieve engagement and reap maximum benefit from implementation.