International Consultant
Experience > Quality systems

Quality systems

It has become increasingly obvious that SMEs must implement quality assurance systems like ISO 9000 if they wish to become modernised and to meet their customers' expectations. For those that are export firms, this should be an obligation.

Small and medium-sized enterprises that want to become more competitive must take extensive measures to assure their quality.

This applies not only of those that enter the international arena, but also to enterprises that produce for the domestic market only, but that want to form supply (or subcontracting) networks that are highly demanding. At times, large investments may be needed to modernise their production systems.

For some time now, quality assurance systems like ISO 9000 have been commonplace for international competitors, many of which have implemented standards that are far more demanding. The new version of ISO 9000:2000 gives still more weight to satisfying customer expectations. As a result, enterprises must progressively undergo reorganisation guided by quality criteria that demand the active involvement of their employees in the process.

Survey findings point up the positive results of ISO 9000 implementation. Among other improvements, the enterprises that were surveyed showed increases in: Profits (an average growth of 6%), productivity (6%), use of installed capacity (an additional 30%), and customer satisfaction (a 70% increase!). At the same time, they cut down on: Stocks (40%), poorly made pieces (10%), the need to remedy defects (51%), and customer claims (40%).

Almost no small and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries have installed quality management systems (QMS). In Peru, by way of example, only 10 to 15 small and medium-sized industrial enterprises are implementing or have implemented ISO 9000. And of these, only one is an export company. The picture is somewhat different in the case of HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points), a procedure used to ensure that processed food products are harmless. Inasmuch as certification is not required for HACCP, all that many enterprises do is prepare a "Manual," which they do not implement. As a result of this carelessness, food products have been repeatedly returned by customs authorities of the U.S. and member countries of the European Union because they do not fulfil sanitary requirements.

¿How can agencies for international co-operation help resolve problems of quality? Some measures could be to:

  • Strengthen government institutions that promote quality or that could do so (i.e. health institutions; export promotion agencies; and standardisation institutions)

  • Carry out measures to sensitise chambers of industry and commerce, associations and trade groups

  • Publicise examples of "best practices"

  • Institute pilot measures in selected enterprises and disseminate the experiences gained in doing so

  • Help enterprises that offer or want to offer services to implement quality assurance measures or programmes

  • Arrange for visits of domestic or foreign enterprises that apply "best practices"

  • Organise the exchange of information and experiences


I have had the experience of designing and delivering a programme for the implementation of ISO 9000, ISO 14000, SA 8000, HACCP, and Good Manufacturing Practices in 40 small and medium-sized Peruvian enterprises. The companies contributed between 50% and 70% of the cost. They had to assume 100% of the investment cost; only the personnel training and document preparation were co-financed. This methodology received ISO 9002 certification in February of 2001. You can download and read the brochure entitled "Export Quality Programme"

Copyright © 2012 Heiko Windolph, Berlin
Last update: June 2012