Pakistan afford to be lagged behind?
By SHABBIR H. KAZMI
Oct 16 - Oct 22, 2000
In a rapidly changing competitive market, staying ahead of the
competition is essential for success. The ISO-9000 is now an
international phenomenon and it is influencing the way companies do
business. In emerging markets it is frequently used to help raise
standards and improve competitiveness. In developed economies it is
becoming an increasingly important consideration in business-to-business
purchases as well as enabling the companies to achieve improved
efficiency and better management.
The need to streamline quality standards was felt as back as soon
after the World War II. It got the shape of AQAP-1 in the USA, BS-5750
in the UK. The purpose behind establishing International Organization
for Standards (ISO) was to promote international exchange of quality
goods and services through the development of standards. The ISO-9000
series, after adapting and improving various existing globally
acceptable standards, was first published in 1987 and revised in 1994.
Its latest revision is in final stages and expected to be released
within the year 2000. The whole concept of ISO certification is based on
three basic points:
1) Responsibility and commitment of management to quality,
2) Documentation of Quality Management System (QMS) and
3) Following the documented procedure in each area of activity.
The process of globalization and creation of World Trade Organization
(WTO) pose challenge specially to developing countries, including
Pakistan, who have to not only open up their domestic markets but also
compete in the world markets on the basis of quality and cost
effectiveness. The efforts to convince the local companies to get ISO
certification in Pakistan started in 1996. The GoP also announced
incentive for those companies who get this certificate.
However, the total number of companies who have acquired this
certificate in Pakistan, in last five years, is very low. An alarming
observation is that a large number of companies trading with European
Union (EU) have not even thought of acquiring this certificate. They
have been constantly ignoring the clear indications given by the
European Commission (EC). The EU has the largest share in Pakistan's
total exports. The EC has announced the deadline after which any company
which has not acquired ISO certificate would not be eligible to trade
with the community. It may not be out of context here to say that the
highest number of companies acquiring this certifications belongs to
some of the developed countries who were the biggest opponents of ISO in
the initial stages. Their efforts to acquire such certification indicate
that all these countries do not want to loose their market share in the
Investing in quality
In today's highly competitive international markets, companies of
every size need to look at ways of generating new business, retaining
existing business and making their operations more efficient and cost
effective. An increasingly successful and popular method of achieving
these aims is through the installation of QMS. Companies are finding
that this not only improves overall efficiency but also greatly enhance
status and customer confidence.
Installing a QMS represents a considerable investment in both time
and money. However, the long-term benefits to an organization and its
customers are enormous. Once an organization sets up QMS, it is likely
to apply for ISO-9000 certification. Why? Because it provides tangible
evidence to company's commitment to quality. Achieving approval to the
ISO-9000 series of international standards inspires greater market
confidence in a company and improves its status. The certificates proves
that the entity has been independently assessed and approved as a
quality organization. The company will be able to participate in
business negotiations with major purchasers who insist on certification.
As ISO-9000 is an internationally recognized standard, a business
entity should try to get the approval from an internationally recognized
organization with an excellent track record in quality assurance. There
is a need to ensure that the certification body is accredited or
licensed to carry out assessment in that particular industry sector by
an internationally recognized authority.
Route to approval
The first and most important aspect of introducing QMS is the
commitment of management of individual companies and to follow the laid
down procedures in each area of activity. Therefore, to start with the
company has to develop its own documents, systems and procedures. Once
management is confident it invites an accredited assessor/auditor to
certify. The management is the most suitable entity to develop the
documents, procedures and system. However, if due to any reason the
business itself cannot do this, services of a consultant can be hired.
Still the biggest responsibility lies with the company itself — an
alien could be fully aware or make himself fully conversant with the
nit-gritty of a business.
Selection of auditor is equally important. While any one may claim to
be a certified auditor, a client must demand the
accreditation/credential of an auditor before hiring his services. Some
of service features are critical for the selection of an assessor. These
*Advice: Assessor should offer advice on the ways in which
customer can maintain or improve their system.
*Approval value: The value of ISO-9000 approval in the market
place should be enhanced by the reputation of the certification body.
*Business partner: Customers may regard their assessor as
business partners rather than regulators.
*Interpreting ISO-9000: Assessors should interpret ISO-9000 in
a consistent way on each customer visit.
*Openly discuss: Customer should feel able to discuss their
management system concerns with their assessors.
*Realistic approach: Assessor should have a realistic approach to
how ISO-9000 can be applied to a customer's business.
*Service contact: When contacting the office customers should
always receive a competent and professional service.
*Service visits: When assessor visit, customer should always
receive a competent and professional service.
Understanding the industry: Assessor should understand a
*Understanding needs: Assessor should understand what a company
needs from its management systems.
*Value for money: Achieving and maintaining certification should
represent value for money.
Assessors who have a realistic approach to interpreting the
requirements of ISO-9000 can help customers develop more effective QMS.
Applying the principles of the standard in a constructive way can help
companies achieve real business benefits.
To deliver a valuable and credible service the certification company
must provide skilled assessors who can identify the root causes of
management system problems, not just the symptoms. This allows customers
to find and implement solutions to the real issues identified within
their management system.
Application form is a vital source of information. It allows the
assessor to evaluate the nature of business of the applicant, the
activities which support it and, most important, identify the specific
assessor expertise for the particular assessment.
Based on the information provided by the assessee, the assessor
prepares a competitive price quotation for assessee's consideration. On
receipt of the signed contract assessor begins the assessment.
Both the parties agree on mutually acceptable dates for document
review and assessment. Experience shows that most of assessees prefer
some time to remedy any problems identified at the document review
Assessor normally goes to assessee for the document review for
detailed discussions of matters relating to clients documentation. This
two-way exchange helps clarify any misunderstandings and the
requirements for corrective action. These visits also serve to ensure
that the assessment scope has been accurately defined as that the audit
programme progress as smoothly as possible.
Although, often the document review indicates that a sound quality
system exists on paper, it is the implementation of this system which
demonstrates company's commitment to quality. Assessor observes the
system in action and conduct informal interviews and examinations to
establish conformity to standard.
At the end of the assessment, assessor gives a comprehensive report
which brings all aspects of the audit into perspective. This
constructive overview of company's performance details the parts of the
standard which have been satisfactorily addressed and identifies areas
of system deficiency or non-compliance.
On completion of a successful assessment, Assessor issues a
certificate of approval. This certificate details the scope of approval
and is valid for three years, subject to satisfactory maintenance of the
Once approved, the system is usually monitored by the assessor at
regular intervals. These visits are always scheduled. These visits are
conducted because it is the joint responsibility of assessor and
assessee to ensure that the system continues to meet the requirements of
the standard and is modified to reflect any change in the business
Since the approval certificate is subject to renewal every three
years, a re-assessment is carried out. Although this is more demanding
than surveillance visits, the extent of the re-assessment is determined
by company's track record and the system's maturity. Confirmation is
sought that the system has not deteriorated and that all individual
parts still link coherently. The visit is designed to give company and
its customers confidence that company continues to meet the highest
ISO-14001 is the world's first international Environment Management
Systems (EMS) standard. An EMS can help a company to manage its
activities, products and services to ensure compliance with its
environmental policy. A certified EMS to ISO-14001 will help a company
to manage environmental risk, reduce costs, gain a competitive edge and
minimize its environmental impact.
Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, known as the Big Three, have
joined hands and developed a combined approach to supplier quality
assurance called QS-9000. The QS-9000 standard is based on the QMS
standard ISO-9000 but introduces more stringent elements specific to the
production of automotive parts. QS-9000 is intended to replace the need
for supplier to undergo multiple assessments. It is estimated that
QS-9000 will have a direct impact on some 20,000 component suppliers to
the Big Three. Other motorcar manufacturers are also beginning to
Ability to change
Product and service
Lloyd's Register Quality Assurance
Lloyd's Register Quality Assurance (LQRA), a subsidiary of Lloyd's
Register, is an accredited certification body which assesses quality
management systems to the international standard ISO-9000. LQRA has
grown to become one of the world's leading certification companies. and
* A worldwide reputation
* Universally high standards
* Fee that reflect local market conditions
* Certificates issued in any language
* A completely impartial and professional service
* Extensive knowledge and expertise in a diverse range of
* An open, helpful and practical approach
* Quotations and invoices in local currency
* Ongoing programme of surveillance
* A wide range of management training services