How do small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) compete on a level playing field with the biggest business? Quite simply: by applying International Standards.
It is estimated that more than 90 % of the world’s businesses are SMEs. Surprised? Don't be. SMEs are, on average, the businesses that are generating growth, creating jobs, growing faster and innovating more. More importantly, they are a good deal less complicated (structurally) and more efficient and flexible than are large firms.
International Standards provide as many benefits for small businesses as they do for global enterprises. Their strategic use can make a significant difference to the annual turnover of an SME, sometimes the difference between success and failure.
Managers of SMEs from around the world testify how ISO standards contribute to their success in the February 2013 ISO Focus+, the magazine of the International Organization for Standardization. These senior executives or business owners are from a rich variety of SMEs in Canada, Singapore, and Japan/United Kingdom. Their testimonies demonstrate how ISO standards deliver results and benefit companies of any size, including to the smallest enterprise.
Denis Tremblay, General Manager, Tetra Tech's Energy Unit: "International Standards serve as a bridging mechanism. They constitute a tool for a company, enabling it to overcome barriers and gain greater market access. The more standards are used, the greater their level of competitiveness. This, in the end, gives the ultimate client a big payoff in terms of cost savings."
Jackie Cheng, Chief Executive Officer, HISAKA Group: “International Standards provide critical guidance to SMEs such as ourselves when they are formulating business procedures, controls and improvements. They serve as yardsticks for SMEs to verify and test their processes and procedures, and have them independently inspected.”
Manabu Yamamoto, Managing Director, IIJ Exlayer Europe: "ISO/IEC 27001 is making the corporate world a safer and more secure place in which to do business. The standard benefits large organizations and SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) alike."
The February 2013 ISO Focus+ issue looks at how International Standards help businesses of all shapes and sizes to work more efficiently, increase productivity and access new markets.
The issue also brings together a portfolio of articles covering the application of software engineering or environmental management standards in smaller settings, or the benefits of standards and participation in standardization for SMEs. The implementation of an integrated Management System Standard by SMEs is also highlighted.
"Given the trend towards outsourcing activities and the growing importance of cooperation in the value chain, effective Management System Standard implementation by SMEs is of key importance in facilitating trade and promoting sustainable development," says Dick Hortensius, Senior Standardization Consultant for NEN, the Dutch member of ISO.
Read on and discover why International Standards are of strategic economic importance, and how SMEs (despite all obstacles) stand to gain most from their use.
ISO Focus+, February 2013