Systemising Firms: the role of ISO9001

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ISO9001 is the quality standard. Surely that means that it is the ISO9001 imagepreserve of the quality manager in a firm? How then can it be anything to do with people? And more importantly how can it have anything to do with people management or HR? Managers must be systemising firms. They must create order within which staff work.

ISO9001 calls for the firm to be systemised. This short blog discusses the role of systems in business, arguing that systems are important to job satisfaction and to staff flourishing. If achieved in the right way both lead to enhanced profits.


A system is an assembly of activities that acts on something in order to achieve a result. A system has a definable set of inputs, a definable transfer function between input and output and hence a definable set of outputs. We can measure the inputs and if we get the transfer function working consistently we produce the same outputs every time. A firm is a system. It converts raw material into finished goods. It converts information into knowledge. It converts assets into profits.

But why are systems so key in dealing with people? Firstly systems create order. Humans crave order. If there is chaos we will naturally order our lives so that we can effect control. We can’t control chaos. If a workforce is subject to order it will be more likely to be content. That’s not to say that the workforce wants Taylor-style management with work reduced to a singular task repeated many times. But even the artisan or craftsman craves order allowing him or her to achieve excellence in the job whilst standardising each of many discrete movements.


Secondly systems allow people to evaluate their performance, whether between groups or between firms. Humans are social animals and play in teams. Measurement allows humans to evaluate their teams against others, perhaps comparing with norms or against other firms with whom they compete in the market. Everyone wants their team to win.

People crave order. Systems give order. Using ISO9001, teams can state how they will do things and then measure themselves against standards to create improvement. In essence this means that ISO9001 gives the framework for many people management activities.

Teams can design the way they work. This heightens engagement with value placed in having a say in that design. This leads to job evaluation with contribution valued for each role. The competence needed can be determined system by system. Competence gaps can be identified and plugged through staff development.

Change Through Systems

Change can be postulated and managed through change to the system(s). The need for new staff can be modelled and likewise the need for redundancy proven against the needs of the system. Many people management issues in a firm can be set against the framework of ISO9001. ISO9001 is a people management standard. Who better for help achieve the standard than people management professionals.

TimelessTime has many years of experience in managing firms to achieve and retain ISO9001 registration.

Systemising Firms

In aiding an SME to achieve registration under the standard Timeless Time will first facilitate development and expression of the various systems. It will do this with the SME principal and the staff that will run the systems. It will develop the systems using business process engineering methods, minimising wordy Quality or systems Manuals.

At all times TimelessTime consultants will focus on transferring knowledge, using systems modelling to systematise in a fashion that comes natural to the staff. And it will train staff to assess their own systems though audit. Then TimelessTime will train management in how to use the systems to effect organisational change and business improvement. For more on how TimelessTime can help go to and for details of our products and services.

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