Achieving the ISO 9001 accreditation does have an initial cost. While the long-term benefits of ISO, such as increased business and profit, outweigh this, it can nonetheless be hard for companies to afford the initial outlay. This is particularly true for smaller businesses and those looking to grow their business in lots of different areas. It means that, too often, only large companies achieve the ISO 9001:2015 and see the full benefits. However, there are grants for ISO 9001 that allow businesses of all sizes to achieve certification. These can cover up to 50% of the cost.
Grants for the ISO have been available for many years. Due to the recent state of the economy, the grants are becoming harder to understand and, frankly, harder to obtain. However, Clear Quality, expert ISO consultants, have put together this comprehensive guide to maximise your chances of achieving a grant and, in turn, ISO accreditation.
There are a number of routes you can go down in order to obtain a grant.
Government grants are the most common form of funding to support ISO 9001 accreditation. Pre-2012, Business Link (a government initiative for the support of growing businesses) gave help to hundreds of SMEs looking to grow by achieving an ISO. However, they ceased operation in October 2012. Nonetheless, the service wasn’t completely halted; the telephone service was maintained and the information relocated to the gov.uk website. You can now find business support information, including those about grants and loans there.
Since then, local enterprise services have replaced Business Link. Grants can now be achieved through award schemes, such as those offered by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), or through local councils.
Many national organisations will offer grants and support to allow you to achieve accreditation. These include specific industry departments such as the Department of Trade and Industry or the Department of Education. Your eligibility will vary according to the industry in which your company operates.
In addition to national organisations, there are many local bodies and authorities that will help you obtain a grant. These include the Enterprise Trust, Business Connect in the Channel Islands, SMAS (Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service), local enterprise offices and more. Many authorities will specifically give grants to non-for-profit organisations. It can be really difficult to find the correct board or office for your needs. If you’re in doubt, give Clear Quality a ring and we can point you in the right direction.
In order to get a grant, you and your business must be eligible. Some specialist grants will have particular requirements, such as being a non-for-profit organisation. Some organisations will specifically offer grants for businesses concerned with environmental sustainability, for instance. However, standard eligibility normally depends on three factors:
- The industry in which you work
- Your business’s size
- Your location
These will vary according to the organisation who are offering the grant. The best way to understand eligibility is to contact the body or company directly.
Grants are most commonly offered to SMEs as it is widely recognised that these businesses not only need the most help in order to obtain qualifications such as the ISO 9001, but also will see the most positive return on investment.
Applying for a grant can be a complex process - completing the necessary documentation and evidence. However, those offering grants just want to see that you have a clear plan of action on how the money will be used and the benefits it will bring your business. If you’re looking at applying for a loan, it is vital that the body can see how the money will allow your business to increase revenue, enabling you to repay the loan. Of course, organisations don’t want to give large amounts of money to people who will spend it unwisely or waste it. Below are the best practices to follow when applying for grants and loans.
Firstly, get in touch with the organisational body providing the grant. They’ll give essential advice that could save you many hours of work, as well as tips on the best way to obtain their grant specifically. A personal relationship with the organisation will also never hurt your cause.
You must also have considered the implications of the money. Not simply that it will enable you to become ISO 9001 certified, expand your business and increase revenue; you need to have considered exactly how each part of your project will evolve and the actions you will have to take. The more thorough your thinking, the more likely you will be offered the grant.
Another vital piece of advice: don’t begin the process of ISO application until you have already obtained the grant. If you do, the organisation will often deny the grant on the grounds that if you’ve started the process, you must have done so under the belief that you could finish it without third party aid.
Be as thorough as possible throughout the application process. You should be clear from having spoken to the organisation exactly what their requirements are and what you have to do to meet them. Your application must include a plan of the cost breakdown, with exact projections of how the money will be used. This includes the ISO 9001 consultants you will use, such as Clear Quality.
Create a tailored business plan that is in line with the purpose of the grant award and the organisation. Always ensure that your application relates to the organisation, particularly if they are a specialist organisation, such as one that deals with environmental sustainability. With this example, you must explain how it relates to environmental issues and include positive projections.
It is also important to include evidence of your business’s previous reliability, track record and development. If you can evidence examples of when you have completed projects, repaid loans and similar things, then it can only help your case.
Make it clear how and why you depend on the grant in order to achieve ISO 9001 certification, as well as how and why the ISO will help your business. The ISO 9001:2015 has many clear benefits, which means justifying this is not too difficult!
When you have received the grant, you can implement the clear business plan which you had crafted during the application process. This includes getting in touch with ISO 9001 specialist consultants in order to ensure you are following the correct procedures, crafting an effective QMS (quality management system) and both understanding and meeting the requirements of the ISO.
Clear Quality pride ourselves on delivering the highest levels of customer care and service. No matter what stage you’re at in investigating, implementing and being awarded the ISO 9001:2015, we want to advise and help you. Make the process as smooth and as easy as possible with us. Get in touch today.