Managing people, data, and information is an essential element of business success. The “plan-do-check-act” process of business planning is a useful and simple way to make sure your management and the business check off on each step of this process. Success in business goes way beyond a checklist however. If fully embraced by the organization, management systems provide the means for objective assessment, personal accountability, and continuous improvement.
For fifteen years Harbec, Inc. has been pursuing and adopting ISO management systems focused on customer-and-value centric business objectives. To date Harbec, Inc. has achieved three ISO certifications including:
- ISO 9001: Quality
- ISO 14001: Environmental Management
- ISO 50001/SEP: Energy Management
Further, Harbec, Inc. is actively pursuing certification for ISO 13485: Medical. The visual below presents these four management systems in the context of customer-and-value centric objectives.
Customer-Centric Management Systems
Pursuing ISO certification for quality can be considered a customer-centric business objective. Early on in its business evolution Harbec knew quality was a top value-driver for its customers. Many businesses recognize that having robust management systems that could be certified and validated by reputable third parties is a way to differentiate itself, and to support ongoing and future customer relationships.
Through the process of adopting ISO 9001 companies are able to enhance their quality management program. Management systems like ISO provide the means to identify areas of opportunity and continuously improve your organization’s performance year over year. As such, ISO management systems are a powerful solution to support business planning, management, and accountability.
Value-Centric Management Systems
Harbec is striving to be a sustainable manufacturing company. Sustainable production is a business objective and value for many domestic and global brands, manufacturers, and retailers including Unilever, Wal-Mart, Proctor and Gamble, LEGO, and Nike. These and other businesses are seeking out more sustainable materials and component manufacturers within their supply chain. As they do, they are looking for suppliers that can provide a tangible sustainable value, like carbon neutrality, to support their product stewardship and sustainability goals and targets.
Demonstrating values like carbon-neutrality in transparent, objective, and concrete ways is reinforced with the use of management systems. The evolution of sustainability as a business and product (consumer) value has transitioned away from philosophy toward objective and measurable performance. Companies (and consumers) want to see legitimate claims and supporting data and information that can be reviewed and verified. While a great deal of “greenwashing” continues to persist in the marketplace most major global brands are developing their own or working with existing frameworks for ensuring that their integration and implementation of sustainability into their products can be trusted.
In 2013 Harbec achieved carbon-neutrality. This accomplishment was made possible through years of business planning and the disciplined pursuit of a highly energy efficient business that also adopted on-site renewable energy generation and combined heat and power (CHP) systems that operate on thermal priority. Further, adoption of ISO 50001, an energy management standard, supports the business’ ability to track, monitor, and maintain its energy management system. Pursuit of a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) certification called “Superior Energy Performance (SEP)” takes things a step further and requires the business to establish additional and specific energy reduction targets based upon a baseline year and to have a plan for achieving those targets. Through its adoption and certification of ISO 50001/SEP, Harbec has been able to clearly demonstrate and validate how it is truly a carbon-neutral manufacturing partner.
Don’t Fear the Audit
Whether it is an annual third party audit, or an audit initiated by a customer, the process of an audit can evoke anxiety and fear for many businesses and managers. The audit process is where accountability and truth collide. The business has to address whether it has done all that it can to ensure the management system in question is performing as it should. Ultimately this comes down to people and the management of people. But the audit process is also your true friend. The act of going through an audit allows the business to assess and evaluate how well it is maintaining consistency and holding to the management standard. The audit process allows the business to recalibrate itself so that the common language and framework of the management system become a mutual understanding and ongoing business priority. Knowing what is expected of you, and what to expect from others are two key benefits of implementing and having regular audits of management systems.