4 crucial techniques to convince your top management about ISO 9001 implementation

Trying to convince top management of the importance of implementing a Quality Management System (QMS) using the requirements of ISO 9001:2015 can be a struggle. Even if your customers have required this in their contracts, it can be hard to convince management to invest in more than just the bare minimum to get the certification, and to invest in actually getting benefit from the QMS. Here are four crucial techniques to use when talking to top management to get buy-in for your ISO 9001:2015 implementation.

1) Know your benefits & myths.

When you first approach top management, the response you will probably hear is: “What’s in it for us?” It is important to have a response for this right away, and a response that the top management will not easily dispute, so do your homework. Learn the benefits of ISO 9001:2015 implementation – not just in general, but how they specifically relate to your company. Don’t just say you will have better supplier relationships; give an example of how your QMS can improve one of your troublesome suppliers. This will get the manager thinking this is a good idea and will lead them to other benefits that they can identify themselves.

Additionally, addressing the reluctance to implement ISO 9001:2015 is tied up in understanding the myths around this standard, so learn and understand why people might be unwilling to commit to this project so that you can respond. For instance, if someone complains that “ISO 9001 means we need to write a lot of documents,” you can respond with the correct information that this is not the case.

For more on the benefits and myths surrounding ISO 9001:2015 implementation, see these articles: Six key benefits of ISO 9001 implementation & Six greatest myths about ISO 9001.

2) Prepare an elevator speech.

There is a better chance that you will be able to convince top management during informal occasions than during formal meetings. For instance, if you come across your CEO in the cafeteria, you need to be prepared with a 30- to 60-second elevator speech where you can vividly present your case. Make sure you rehearse this speech so that you are confident and the speech is convincing.

For example, your speech could be: “Investing in ISO 9001 will pay off if we focus on the cost savings from improvements, not to mention improving customer satisfaction with our products and services.” This can lead to some brief questions that you will be able to answer about how this is the case, and the CEO will walk away thinking better about the project.

3) Find an ally.

It is best to find people who are close to, or members of, top management who are naturally interested in ISO 9001 implementation. These might include the head of finance, who could see this as a way of reducing financial risk, or the marketing manager, who sees this as an additional selling point. Finding an ally in top management will greatly increase your chances of being taken seriously by the management team.

If you do your homework, and find the right person to champion the benefits of implementing ISO 9001:2015, they will not only give you additional insight into how top management works, but they will also make it easier to get onto the top management agenda. In fact, they may champion the cause themselves.

4) Streamline your presentation.

When you do eventually make your presentation to top management, remember the 30-20-10 rule. Forget all about the fancy statistics of ISO 9001, or the hundreds of slides you could present about implementing the standard. Instead, use a font size of 30, use a maximum of 20 minutes, and have – at most – 10 slides. And, remember to focus on the benefits for the company, as this is the main message you want to get across.

This will allow you to present your information easily and quickly so that top management can absorb the information you present. You can then answer questions that will help secure your management’s commitment to the project. A short and simple presentation will show that you value the time of top management, which can go a long way toward gaining their trust.

Preparation is the key.

As with many things in life, preparation is the key to addressing top management’s reluctance to commit to implementing ISO 9001:2015 in your company. By knowing and understanding the benefits and myths of ISO 9001:2015, assessing how they are relevant to your company, and being able to present this information in both informal and formal ways, you will greatly increase the chance of top management commitment to the ISO 9001:2015 project.

Remember, without management commitment, the implementation of your Quality Management System will be troublesome, if not impossible, to achieve. So, don’t skip this important step in your journey towards implementing ISO 9001:2015 in your company. Your success might depend on it.

Use this free Project proposal for ISO 9001 Implementation to help you convince top management to implement ISO 9001.

Advisera Mark Hammar
Mark Hammar
Mark Hammar is a Certified Manager of Quality / Organizational Excellence through the American Society for Quality and has been a Quality Professional since 1994. Mark has experience in auditing, improving processes, and writing procedures for Quality, Environmental, and Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems, and is certified as a Lead Auditor for ISO 9001, AS9100, and ISO 14001.