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Quality Assurance Stay ahead of the pack with ISO certification.

By Charlotte Mulhern

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Consider your business's global reach. Now answer thefollowing question: What's your competitive advantage? Unless"quality" tops your list, you could be at a disadvantage,regardless of your product or service.

Adhering to the formal set of quality standards published adecade ago by the Geneva-based International Organization forStandardization (ISO) is becoming increasingly important for globalsuccess. "No one has made it a requirement, but it's thetrend," says Michael Ehsani, president of the AmericanInstitute of Consultants Quality Services Inc. in Houston. Everyyear, his business helps a handful of firms complete tedious andcomplicated ISO 9000, ISO 14000 and QS 9000 certificationprocedures, which have already been adopted by more than 98countries and organizations worldwide.

Put simply, ISO 9000 refers to the set of standards establishedfor quality management and assurance. Any type of company can applyfor certification, from staffing businesses to pharmaceuticalcompanies. Businesses can also apply for ISO 14000 certification--amanagement system designed for operations directly impacting theenvironment. And QS 9000 sets the standards for the automotiveindustry.

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