Quality, ISO 9000, QSM, what is what? (Quality concepts made simple)

by Ouijdane El Arabi (A graduate of the national school of management and trade Oujda Morocco, a current student in EMUNI University Slovenia in Euro-mediterranean entrepreneurship diploma (EMED). Worked previously in several non profit organizations but also interned in many businesses.

quality systems 

ISO 9001, quality, QSM quality management, certification… Many terms and concepts that have been talked about for the last 10 years and many new entrepreneurs, managers, business students and public get mixed between these concepts and others and find it hard to understand exactly what is about!

In this article we will explain in very simple words what quality is about and what are the most important concepts that we have to know about as students, consumers, entrepreneurs, present or future managers.

Quality, is it about price or about the best product in the market?

Quality can be defined by the International Standards Organization (called also ISO) in ISO 9000 (2015) as “degree to which a set of inherent characteristics  of an object  fulfils requirements

In other very simple words, quality is the degree of which the organization presents the object (product, service, process, system…) the way it was exactly demanded by the customer.

The concept of quality is dedicated towards the customer and not for the businesses or for the marketing as lot of people think

Before continuing on other concepts I must clarify something: A Product coming from China is not a product of a small quality, and another product coming from Germany is not a product of a high quality In fact there is NO high , medium or small quality: There is only QUALITY or  0 QUALITY (or NO quality). It all depends on what the customer REQUIRES.

For example if, as a customer,  I am asking for a pink long sleeves shirt with a high black neck made of pure cotton  and there are 3 companies telling me that they have what I want, when I go and meet with the sales managers of the two businesses I found out that:

Company A’s offer Company B’ offer Company C’ offer
A PINK T-SHIRT with a  high neck made of cotton A PINK SHIRT with HIGH BLACK NECK made of cotton A GREEN shirt with high GREEN neck made of polyester

So, after reviewing the 3 offers, I figure that Company B is the one who executed what I required: that is QUALITY

Companies A & C have offered different things than what I required: that is 0 QUALITY or NO QUALITY.

And of course the quality issue depends on what I want as a customer, how I want it, when and using which tools.

This subject is strictly related to another important and critical topic, especially for startups and SMES’: writing down product specifications, written statements of an item’s required characteristics, documented in a manner that facilitate its procurement or production and acceptance. Understanding the real meaning of quality assurance and writing down accurate product specifications, may represent the key to success for many firms.

QMS, certifications what are these concepts ?

A quality management system (QMS) on the other hand is a set of policies, requirements, standards, rules needed to accomplish the execution, production through a particular process in the company.

For example, ISO 22301 (business continuity) is a standard to create a BCMS (Business continuity management system).

We hear often that the organization X or the Process Y is certified ISO 9001, and we often do not understand what it means or how it can help us as customers. First of all,  the term certification or conformity is a set of processes that show your product, service or system meets the requirements based on ISO’s definition. So when we say that X or Y are certified means that they follow the requirements of a standard (ISO 9001 for eg).

In very simple words, it means that the organization respects the rules of ISO 9001 in making a certain product, service or system. This is verified by an independent, third party competent Organization (http://www.bulltek.com/registrar_assistance/registrarassistance.html). Anyhow, you can internally use the standard references as a guideline even without being certified”

ISO 9001, 27001, 22000,14000…., what is the difference ?

Each of these standards is designed in most cases for a particular type of industry, service… Let’s see which is which:

ISO 9000: is related to quality management (ISO 9001 means that the business have respected the quality required by the customer from the very first stages of concepts to the very last steps of production and beyond. ISO 9002 means that quality was respected from the production till the after sales services….)

  • ISO 22000 is about food safety management
  • ISO 27001 is related to data and information management
  • ISO 14000 is related to environmental management
  • ISO 4217 is a standard for currency codes.

The list goes on and on (please check the ISO website for popular standards https://www.iso.org/popular-standards.html ) , and ISO has put a standard for various numbers of disciplines, industries and areas and that are very specific, however ISO 9000 is one of the standards that can be applicable to every industry or process and has become very important in many aspects of business life.

How can ISO 9000 helps my business as an entrepreneur?

Being certified as ISO 9000 family does help the organizations in many ways:

  • Works positively towards image building and good reputation of the business.
  • Gives quality insurance to the customer.
  • Facilitates having funds and cooperation.
  • Facilitates growth capital and the search for new shareholders and investors.
  • Positions the business I a good rank when compared with competitors.
  • Keeps a continuous track of the business audit (Please check DR Max’s article about audit and quality).
  • The employees are very concerned of the customers, so they keep being dynamic towards customer helping and customer services.
  • The business is up to date and has numerous actions towards its inner and external business environment.



Feasibility study: how and why

by Ouijdane El Arabi (A graduate of the national school of management and trade Oujda Morocco, a current student in EMUNI University Slovenia in Euro-mediterranean entrepreneurship diploma (EMED). Worked previously in several non profit organizations but also interned in many businesses.)

What is a Feasibility Study?


feasibility study

The feasibility study is a concept that gets mixed quite often with the concept of business plan. The feasibility study however it is not a business plan, regardless of the fact that much of the informations are in the business plan do exist in the feasibility study. The feasibility study tends to answer a single major question: Is it a viable idea to proceed with?

In other words, the feasibility study is intended to answer if the business idea makes sense and profitable (narrow the alternatives and provide the focus to highlight the opportunities that might be hiding or not showing to the entrepreneur), Cash flow, profit with  reasonable risk, long term viability and long term business goals.

On the other hand, the business plan is a detail plan of how to achieve success, goals, targets,….

The feasibility study’s process goes through determining 3 major analysis:

  • Market analysis : Composed by :
    • Demand: on this level we need to answer the following questions: Does the demand exists? If Yes, how much is its level? How much of the product the customer will purchase and how often?
    • Target market: at this level we need to have an accurate targeting of customers in addition to defining elements related to them (where do they live, their revenues…)
    • Competition: how many competitors do we have? What they do well? and what are their weaknesses? And how our business and product(s) will be different than them     ?
    • Market channels and outlets: What channels are we going to use? Ex: Retail, grocer market direct sales (knock on the customer’s door for example) … Do they require specific distribution?
  • Production analysis : We need to determine:
    • Facilities and equipment: What are the required equipments? Where to retain them? Can we repair them? if not how close is a reliable technician?
    • Labor and management: by identifying the number of employees, knowledge and skills they need to have, and our ability to train them. On the other hand, determine the skills needed in our side to manage and weaknesses that can happen to us as well.
    • Inputs all material: From where to have them? Is our schedule aligning with the schedule of obtaining the inputs?
  • Financial analysis : It has 4 main levels to precisely plan as well, we can present:
    • Startup costs: costs required for land, facilities, machines, licenses and all elements to start the venture. We need to determine also how our venture will be financed.
    • Operating costs: Gathers the fixed and variable costs to run and produce and how they change over time,
    • Financing: how to finance the venture: it is about knowing the requirements to fiancé the venture.
    • Revenue and profitability: It is essentially the price, profit and results.

Key advices for creating a good feasibility study:

Elaborating a feasibility study is not always a piece of cake, however every entrepreneur is capable of doing it by using one or many of these tools:

  • For the Market analysis:
    • Data collection: First and secondary data using observation, surveys, focus groups, interviews.
    • PESTLE, SWOT, Porter’s five forces, Blue Ocean Strategy Analysis ( you can find more about in this site )…
  • For the production and financial analysis:
    • Distinguish between the operating and investment activities (define long term and short term assets)
    • Define the risks and uncertainties to try to manage them ahead.
    • Best case, worst case and “most likely” scenarios.
    • Proceed with the cost/benefit analysis (define the break even point in units and in timing)
  • General directives:
    • Call for the help and assistance of the specialists in each field but also business angels that can offer moral support as well as the financial one.
    • Engage the whole team in elaborating the feasibility study.
    • Being open to changing some aspects of the business to have the best results on the longer term.
    • Be flexible.
    • Don’t be afraid to let go an idea if it is not fruitful for you as an entrepreneur!