Embracing ISO certification sparks a wave of enthusiasm within any organization. Visions of international recognition and top-tier quality offerings dance in the minds of excited employees and management.

However, beneath the surface of this initial excitement lies the true challenge for small businesses in Africa: understanding the rigorous discipline and commitment required for successful implementation.

Enter the Quality Advisor, a role I find more fitting than consultant, tasked with guiding the organization through the intricacies of ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System (QMS). The journey begins with essential Quality awareness training for all levels of staff, aiming to illuminate the path ahead. Yet, despite these efforts, the crucial elements of discipline and commitment often remain underestimated.

To cement these concepts, I advocate for a strategic collaboration with the Human Resources department to develop Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) rooted in non-conformities. These KPIs, especially when tied to department heads and incentivized accordingly, can transform the ISO journey into a tangible and rewarding process, with milestones set against the project’s timeline.

The route to fast-tracking QMS implementation involves setting these agreed KPIs into motion. The Quality Advisor must then diligently orchestrate the mapping of departmental processes, maintaining strict deadlines to keep the momentum of initial excitement alive. The drafting of QMS documents – standard operating procedures, work instructions, and more – becomes a collaborative dance between the Advisor and department heads, culminating in their crucial sign-off while enthusiasm is at its peak.

The true test arrives with the announcement of implementation audits. The initial flurry of excitement may wane as numerous non-conformities arise, stemming from an incomplete commitment to the foundational process mapping. Yet, this challenge serves as a pivotal opportunity: to reinforce the responsibilities of department heads and to measure the effectiveness of the established KPIs.

In this orchestrated endeavor, every stakeholder stands to gain – the Quality Advisor, the department heads, and the entire organization – as they navigate the journey from excitement to excellence.

[Edited by Dr. V.P Nyambuya & Authored by G.G Nyambuya]

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