The Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) has blamed the inability of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to produce goods to international quality benchmarks to their failure to abide by standards.
The Head of Public Relations Department at the GSA, Mr Kofi Amponsah-Bediako, said standards served as a guide to producers and ensured that businesses did not commit grievous mistakes before starting all over again.
“Standards also ensure that the final product that comes out is of acceptable quality and increases consumer confidence in that product,” he said.
Standards are sets of requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose.
In Ghana, standards are developed by the GSA in collaboration with stakeholders. They are based on consensus building after which they are gazetted for use.
Generally, he said, large-scale businesses were standards compliant and therefore reaped the benefits of standards for their operations.
However, he said, the challenge had been with the small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs), many of whom did not adhere to standards and were mostly not registered so it is difficult to track them.
Standards in Ghana
“It is even difficult to get statistics on them. We would say that when it comes to small businesses quite a substantial number do not use standards and that’s why they have problems with the quality of their products,” he said.
Using standards in business operations offers a set of powerful business and marketing propositions for organisations of all sizes. Their application enhances performance and risk management, while making operations more efficient and sustainable.
“Businesses that make use of standards are likely to ensure quality of their products such that they would be acceptable everywhere. It will be easy for them to break into larger markets whether local or international,” he said.
Business success, therefore, depends on how businesses perform at every level of the organisation, and Mr Amponsah-Bediako said “businesses today simply cannot afford to take an improvised reactive approach to risk. Using standards can help them to identify their risks and minimise them.”
Revised ISO 9001: 2015 (quality)
The GSA has released the latest edition of the Quality Management Systems standard, ISO 9001: 2015. It is the outcome of over three years of revision work by experts from nearly 95 participating and observing countries to update the standard in line with modern trends.
ISO 9001: 2015 replaces previous editions; therefore, certification bodies will have up to three years to update their certificates to the new version.
The ISO 9001 helps organisations to demonstrate consistency in the quality of their goods and services. It also acts as a tool to streamline their processes and make them more efficient at what they do.
The 2015 edition features important changes which are evolutionary; it is less prescriptive and rather focuses on performance by combining the process approach with risk-based thinking and employing the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle at all levels in the organisation.
The new version also provides a solid base for sector-quality standards in areas such as automobile, aerospace, medical industries etc. and takes into account the needs of regulators.
Revised ISO 14001: 2015 (environment)
One of the world’s most popular standards for Environmental Management (EM), ISO 14001: 2015, has also been revised, with key improvements that make it fit for the future.
The revised EM standard responds to the need to factor in both external and internal elements that influence their impact, including climate volatility.
Other key improvements in the new version include a greater commitment from leadership, an increased alignment with strategic direction, greater protection for the environment with a focus on proactive initiatives and life-cycle thinking considering each stage of a product or service, from development to end of life.