ISO 9001 for a Small Business

If you thought that ISO 9001 certification was exclusively a matter for large companies with hundreds of employees, think again. Even very small businesses can benefit from implementing a quality management system (QMS) and gaining ISO accreditation - here are just a few reasons why:

  • Stand out from the competition - One of the biggest challenges for any small startup (but especially those in crowded, competitive markets) is establishing a firm industry presence and convincing customers that they will get something from your business that they won't get elsewhere. Working to attain 'ISO 9001 certified' status or small businesses is a great way to stand out from the crowd and demonstrate your exceptional quality to your target audience.

  • Win more business - ISO 9001 certification won't just make you a more attractive prospect to potential clients - it will also open up new opportunities that would not have been available to you otherwise. ISO 9001 is a mandatory requirement for many contracts in many different sectors, and if you want those contracts to go to your company, implementing an ISO-compliant QMS is the only way to make it happen.

  • Work more efficiently - You might think that a small business with few employees would not need a special management system to get every part of the organisation singing in harmony, but a good QMS can have a big impact regardless of business size. Implementing a QMS that meets ISO 9001 requirements will reduce waste, improve communication, and ultimately boost overall customer satisfaction - all key concerns for a business that's looking to grow.

Contact NPT Management Systems today to find out how our expert ISO consultants can help you to put together a winning QMS and get certified. Be sure to read our Testimonials to find out how we've helped other small businesses to achieve their goals through ISO 9001 status.

Photograph courtesy of

Mother's Day Florist 2017

It all began with a chance meeting one Saturday morning in Netley Abbey. Florist Katie Mawson was walking out of her shop with her hands full of flowers, and she was unable to open the door of her van. Neil Peattie, who happened to be walking past at that moment, simply offered to open the van door for her, but one thing led to another and Katie was soon telling Neil all about how she was preparing for one of her busiest days of the year: Mother's Day. 

Neil listened with interest and offered Katie some advice. Two hours later, with a series of notes written on the back of paper normally used for wrapping flowers, Katie Mawson had been given a crash course in a couple of Lean Tools:

  • 5S - A spontaneous and continuous improvement of working environment and working conditions
  • 7 Wastes - Identifying unprofitable activity within your organisation

"At first, I was struggling to see how what Neil was telling me could be applied to a florist's shop in Netley Abbey. To be honest, I thought that he was slightly crazy! After walking Neil through a couple of processes such as making a bouquet of flowers, Neil was able to show me how some simple visual management tools could help me - I'm now confident that no time will ever be lost again looking for lost scissors! We'll also be using some of the techniques to help make beautiful bouquets in the most efficient way in the run up to Mother's Day."

- Katie Mawson, Owner of Katie Mawson Floral Design

If you are interested in learning more about Lean techniques and how they could benefit your business, please contact NPT Management Systems today.

Alternatively, if you are looking for a beautiful bouquet of flowers for Mother's Day (Sunday the 26th of March 2017), visit Katie Mawson Floral Design at 30 Station Road, Netley Abbey, Southampton, Hampshire, SO31 5AF.

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Better Time Management

Do you frequently feel overwhelmed by the size of your to-do list? Are you stressed because, no matter how hard you work, there never seem to be enough hours in the day to address everything that needs addressing?

If so, you may just need to adjust your approach to time management. Here are 5 quick tips to help your working day feel like less of an uphill struggle:

  • Prioritise! It's unlikely that all the tasks on your to-do list are equally urgent. Identify the most pressing matters and deal with them first before moving on to other things.

  • Try to avoid multi-tasking. You might think that you can double your productivity by working on two things at once, but this rarely works as well as we'd like it to - you'll likely work faster and better if you focus on one thing at a time.

  • Set time limits for yourself. Try to have a clear idea of how long each task on your list ought to take. Your allowance for each item doesn't necessarily have to be set in stone, but you should find that things get done more quickly when you've already told yourself that each task will only take an hour to complete.

  • Don't be afraid to delegate if you can. If you have a team of employees or co-workers on hand, let them help you! It can sometimes be difficult to escape the 'only I can do this right' mindset and relinquish control of a task/project to someone else, but it's important to feel that you can trust your colleagues and allow them to shoulder some of your burden.

  • Shut out distractions. You've probably found that many tasks end up taking far longer than they should because your workflow gets interrupted by little things - emails that you feel compelled to answer straight away, breaking news stories that you're keen to check up on, phone calls from clients with questions to ask. Some of these distractions are unavoidable, but if you're serious about managing your time more effectively, you need to do whatever you can to shut them out. Close all tabs that aren't relevant to the task at hand. Ask your colleagues to handle phone calls and emails where possible. And most importantly, forget about the other tasks on your list until you've completed the one you're currently addressing!

NPT Management Systems specialise in helping businesses implement quality management systems that improve efficiency, quality, and customer satisfaction. Contact us for details.

Improved teamwork in the office

It's said that many hands make light work, but in practice, this is only really true if those hands know how to work together as a team. When they don't, blithely throwing more people at a task may ultimately reduce the efficiency with which that task is completed.

If, as a business owner, you're finding that your staff aren't yet 'clicking' as a team, here are a few quick tips to help you improve this situation:

  • Encourage communication. In the modern office, workers often sit at their desks wearing headphones, effectively shutting out everything and everyone around them. While music often helps people to concentrate on the job at hand, you may find that your employees work more effectively as a team when they take their headphones off and actually speak to one another. Teamwork involves communication - it's rarely just a case of dividing up the work and getting on with it individually.

  • Make sure everyone knows their role. Every member of a team should have a unique role to play in the work that is to be done. Instead of simply setting several people a task and telling them to sort it out between themselves, begin by sitting everyone down and ensuring that everyone understands what they are supposed to be bringing to the table.

  • Maintain an open dialogue and listen to complaints/concerns. It usually takes time for a group of people to gel as a team, so make sure that you're doing whatever you can to help during this process. Check in with your team regularly to ensure that everything is running smoothly, and speak to each individual on a regular basis, listening carefully to any issues they raise. If the team feel that one member isn't pulling his weight, or that another member is trying to micro-manage everybody else's contributions, then you can fix these problems through clear and honest communication.

NPT Management Systems are a team of expert ISO consultants based in the South of England.

Neil Peattie, our Principal Consultant, attended a two-day ISO 9001:2015 auditor transition course this week. This IRCA-certified course was designed to bring qualified ISO 9001 consultants up to speed with the latest revision of the global standard, and it culminated in a written examination, which we're pleased to announce that Neil passed with flying colours!

All of which is just another example of our commitment to training and advancement here at NPT Management Systems. We know that our industry is always changing, and we make it a priority to ensure that our knowledge and skills are totally up-to-date at all times. As you may be aware, ISO 9001 is just one of our many specialist areas; we also help businesses to implement ISO 14001-compliant environmental management systems, ISO 27001-compliant information security management systems, continual improvement programmes, and so on. In order to provide each of these services, our consultants are required to be aware of the latest developments and in possession of any relevant qualifications.

This is a big part of makes NPT Management Systems stand out from the competition. When you look for a consultant, it's important to check their professional qualifications - many consultants in our industry have few or no qualifications with any relevance to ISO 9001:2008 or ISO 9001:2015 auditing at all. We at NPT, on the other hand, are fully qualified to design and implement a wide variety of high-quality management systems.

Furthermore, we are exceptionally quick to familiarise ourselves with new areas of expertise as soon as they arise; for example, Neil is actually one of the very first people to have passed the aforementioned ISO 9001:2015 course, a fact of which we’re rightly proud!

Click here to learn more about our qualifications and credentials, or contact us to let us know what we can do for you.