Those who are concerned with the topic of ISO certification for their company usually have solid reasons for doing so. In some sectors, such as the automotive industry, ISO certification is ultimately mandatory if you want to win interesting contracts as a supplier or partner of the major car manufacturers. Without a verified and certified quality management, practically nothing works here. The same applies, with limitations, to other sensitive industries such as care or pharmaceuticals. On the other hand, individual wishes and needs, for example for an increase in production or quality, can also be the trigger for a certification to be prepared.
What is the benefit of certification? Does certification make sense? What are the concrete advantages of certification? You can find extremely detailed information about this on the Internet, which then also quickly coincides with your own ideas. Cost savings are promised, but also the opening of new markets or target groups. Less often, however, one reads about the possible disadvantages of ISO certification. This is understandable on the one hand, because the advantages are published usually by those, which would like to advise and accompany also then accordingly. But it is also only "half the truth", because anyone who does not also consider the possible disadvantages will not be able to make a final, well-founded decision.
A loose listing of benefits of ISO certification
Before we go into more detail about the possible disadvantages, it is nevertheless useful to take a look at some of the promised advantages. We will do this here as a loose listing, but it does not claim to be complete, nor does it claim to prioritize them differently for each individual.
- Cost reduction in production or also service areas
- Improved quality of own goods or services
- Better correspondence between the envisaged and the achieved goals
- Reduced scrap and related costs
- higher customer satisfaction and less effort for liability, maintenance and after-sales service
- more sales due to better quality promises
- more competitiveness
- Development of new customers and partners
- development of new markets and customer target groups
- stronger identification of employees with own products and promotion of own initiative for improvements
- advantages in liability issues (e.g. vis-à-vis insurance companies)
As you can see, behind practically all of the targeted points is ultimately the goal of more sales, more profit or less expenses - and thus concrete, reliable figures. In order to really be able to forecast an exact benefit, it is therefore also necessary to deal with the disadvantages of ISO certification in more detail.
What disadvantages can ISO certification bring
Economic and financial aspects
Quality management is never an end in itself. Behind it are very concrete and usually financially measurable promises. In practice, it is therefore more important to distinguish whether certification is mandatory anyway or whether it is voluntary. In the former case, of course, the "purchased" disadvantages are then automatically mandatory as well and can at most be limited in their impact. However, this depends very much on the individual specifications.
High consulting costs and initial costs
A functioning quality management system, which can also be certified without any problems, is not something that can be simply stamped out of the ground. Rather, it requires precise planning and expert implementation. Rarely is the necessary know-how already available within the company. It must be formed by internal resources (advanced training, new employment,...) or purchased externally. In addition, there are costs for software, adaptation of software, adaptation of processes and working methods, and much more. Above all, documentation requires a lot of personnel effort in quality management, which can only be kept within reasonable limits through appropriate preparation.
High certification costs
The preparation and also the certification itself are associated with quite high costs, which can also not be estimated immediately as a lump sum. The most important influencing factors are the size of the company (or number of employees), the industry as well as the number of sites and the location of the sites. If these factors are known precisely, a certification body or an experienced consultant can provide a very precise estimate of the approximate costs.
High effort to maintain documentation and processes
Of course, certification alone is not enough. The QM introduced must be constantly monitored and further developed. The tasks of documentation and evaluation are particularly time-consuming. As a rule, they can only be reduced by digitalization to the greatest possible extent or optimized software support.
Operational and social aspects
Even if the economic benefit is of course always in the foreground when it comes to quality management, there are still some disadvantages that take place in the area that cannot be measured directly in financial terms.
Demotivating aspects ("quality dictatorship", "quality bureaucracy")
Especially in already successful companies, the sudden introduction of new processes and ways of working can also have a demotivating effect on employees. After all, "everything has always worked perfectly so far" (and quite often this is even true...). This must be prevented or counteracted with the appropriate effort. The people involved should be made aware of the concrete later advantages, but also an attempt should be made to take their own "best practices" into account.
Quality management and certification as a "no-brainer
In practice, the danger of "misunderstood" quality management in the sense of "everything is fine now" should not be underestimated either. Quality management thrives on its constant review and further development. In this sense, there is never any standstill. It is also important to avoid concentrating too much on testing and certification. QM is a continuous process and not the selective fulfillment of requirements and checking off of specifications.
Risks and disadvantages with voluntary certifications
Particularly if you opt for certification on a "voluntary basis", you will also have to be measured against your own specifications later on. If you do not adhere to the self-imposed quality promises later on, this can also result in very real disadvantages, for example in disputes with customers or insurance companies. Likewise, in times of fast social media, one can quickly be pilloried with one's "false promises". The topic of compliance (supply chain law), for example, can be particularly highlighted here.
PeRoBa Quality Management from Munich - Individual Quality Management and ISO Consulting
Consulting, implementation, audits and QM tools from a single source
PeRoBa GmbH Munich is a service provider with many years of experience in quality management, especially in automotive and mechanical engineering.
We show you how to actively counteract ISO certification disadvantages.
We look forward to hearing from you. The best way to reach us is by phone at the number
+49 8106 / 230 89 92
(more contact options)
Quality management ISO 9001, VDA 6.3 and IATF 16949 - www.peroba.org