Why ISO 9001 matters for start-ups

Why ISO 9001 matters for start-ups

It is a matter of course: start-ups focus their efforts first on designing products then on spreading the word about their business and on securing funding to ramp up development. That being so, why would a start-up even consider an ISO 9001:2015 certification.

Actually, this is not a senseless objective, even when serious decisions have to be made about the cost and deadlines of such a project.

Implementing the ISO 9001:2015 standard has first to do with good practices to help start-ups learn to (continuously) evaluate performance against objectives, costs versus benefits and capitalize on in-house knowledge vs. subcontracting, etc.

Process mapping

The process approach is at the heart of the ISO 9001:2015 standard. This approach offers straightforward benefits to a start-up. Sketching a map of your processes, defining a flowchart of your activities, tollgates and outcomes help formalize processes so that actions are more effective, lessons are learnt and time and costs are optimized.

Iterative thinking is a basis of the ISO standard. The Plan-Do-Check-Act iterative loop (PDCA) is the most appropriate model when adjustments and flexibility are necessary to obtain consistent results and to accept changes based thereon for the next iteration. In fact, this model is an opportunity not to undo what has been already done and implemented. This is a key success factor for a start-up.

Risk management

Risk management is promoted by the ISO 9001: 2015 standard. It is one of the most powerful and beneficial best practices for a start-up. It prompts the staff to meet and identify the risks of each project, to rate each risk and to debate on what the most appropriate mitigation actions are, in order to reduce the impact or the occurrence of the major risks.

As a result, if and when the risk becomes a reality (despite preventative measures), there is less of an emotional response and more of a professional counter action. This, in turn, reinforces the team and maximizes the chances of success.

Customer orientation

If any, “the” motto best conveyed by the ISO 9001:2015 standard is “stay focused on your customers!” Over 80% of the processes implemented by a start-up are directly customer-oriented, and the standard is extremely relevant to the sales process itself. Key actions such as meeting customer requirements, enhancing customer satisfaction and leveraging customer engagement to improve the system, are seeded in the sales teams.

Last but not least, the additional bonus of being ISO 9001-certified is the mere fact that it allows start-ups to respond to customer tenders that require such standard to conduct business.

Proceeding with the ISO 9001:2015 certification

Last year, Kalray set out to become ISO 9001-certified. Primarily focused on customer-oriented processes, we have opted for a progressive implementation as specified by the FD X50-818 standards. Today we are proud to be ISO 9001/Step 1-certified (step 1 covers all customer-oriented processes) and are on the way to completing our full ISO 9001: 2015 certification before the close of the year.

We have learned tremendously from adopting a formalized Kalray quality policy and are intent on reaping the benefits in terms of efficiency, customer relationships and competitive edge. Check our quality charter here.