Theme: “Less waste, better results – Standards increase efficiency”
Since 1970, the standards community has continually reminded the world of the great service that the use of standards has played in the development of global business through the observance of World Standards Day on October 14th.
Each year the theme draws attention to an issue of global significance to promote the relevance of standards to resolve old and new challenges in our civilization. This, in effect, amounts to a chorus of voices resounding from countries around the world, demanding focus on the positive impact standards has on all areas of existence.
In Saint Lucia, the application of standards provides economies like ours some solutions. The decisive way in which standards contribute to the performance of an organization makes it imperative that the application of standards be part of any framework for business success.
It is against this background that at this time, the international community chooses to focus on the use of standards in achieving efficiency by its ability to reduce waste. This is why the theme for World Standards Day 2012 is “Less waste, better results – Standards increase efficiency.”
Simply put, efficiency indicates the ability to achieve objectives by implementing processes to develop products or services of optimal quality with minimal waste, expense, or unnecessary effort. It helps organizations maximize profits and meet their goals, and is crucial for success in today’s challenging and competitive economic environment.
As we mark the observance of World Standards Day 2012, there are a handful of Saint Lucian companies certified to or have implemented standards in their operations, be it in food safety, management, manufacturing or provision of services. This is far from desirous if we are to succeed in a competitive export market.
In a poll of small businesses from 10 countries conducted by the International Organization of Standardization (ISO) on the contribution of standards to their success, the following views were expressed:
1. Standards helps to compete on a level playing field with bigger enterprises,
2. Standards open up export markets for your products and services, discover best business practices, and drive efficiency in your business operations,
3. Standards add credibility to goods and services produced and provides confidence for customers,
4. Standards help open new business opportunities and increase sales, give companies the competitive edge and make their brand name internationally recognized,
5. Standards help companies grow and enable a common “language” to be used across an industry.
One of the world’s leading manufacturers of electronics, Sony, describes the impact of standards on their business and others in this way, “companies discover inefficient, unnecessary and in some cases dangerous practices that can lead to a whole host of undesirable outcomes.” This highlights that the implementation or use of standards eliminates business practices that negatively impacts on businesses and in some cases can lead on the closure of businesses.
While the use of standards locally has not kept pace with international trends, the Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards (SLBS) has remained committed to a standards development agenda to stimulate economic growth and social advancement.
There are a number of standards which are suited to our particular industry needs as we seek to create efficiencies. SLNS/ ISO 9001 is one example which an organization may implement because of the need to control or improve on the quality of products and services, reduce costs associated with poor quality or simply become more competitive. Various national codes of practice exists which address storage and handling of fresh fruits, collection, processing and marketing of packaged water and storage of tires to name a few. These set prescribed formats lead to maximization of efficiency, increased productivity, effective execution and establishes minimum levels of acceptability.
The ISO has indicated that standards have a huge impact on GDP growth in developed countries accounting for 25 percent of GDP growth in the French economy and in Canada during the period 1981 to 2004, real GDP would have been lower by CND 62 billion if there had been no growth in the use of standards in this period.
The evidence provided by these figures and our own potential to impact our economy by implementing standards, has led the SLBS to partner with the ISO for a ground-breaking case study of one company in Saint Lucia which has implemented standards. The study focuses on the economic benefits of standards and will among other things:
* Enable stakeholders in both private and public sectors, to better appreciate the economic and social impact of voluntary consensus standards and;
* To raise the awareness of policy makers and business leaders to the importance of standardization.
The Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards is at present exploring changes to its programmes to do more for the development of industry. In the coming year the SLBS will be expected to receive recommendations on the way forward regarding the development of a technical support programme for the implementation of standards or the provision of certification to a number of standards. A feasibility study to determine the utility of the two options will be conducted shortly as part of efforts to expand standardization services to industry.
This is proof that Government is committed to the growth of the private sector as undoubtedly this is the engine of growth of the economy. We recognize that small and medium sized enterprises are at the centre of the private sector and as such, attaining international competitiveness is a prerequisite for continued existence and growth. The wide-spread adoption of standards in all our enterprises is one of the tools that must be utilized if Saint Lucia is to reposition itself in today’s very competitive world.
We at the Ministry of Commerce, Business Development, Investment and Consumer Affairs are currently in the process of introducing a series of changes that will lead to the attainment of ISO certification at the earliest. We believe that if we are to talk the talk we must also walk the walk.
I therefore wish to take this opportunity to encourage the use of standards to realize maximum profits, increased efficiency and productivity for more effective business operations and less waste. Let us use this occasion of World Standards Day 2012 to adopt a culture in both the private and public sectors that will lead to less waste, better results and use standards to increase efficiency.