We are much closer to the possibility of a no-deal Brexit than ever since the landmark referendum in 2016. While we leave the politicians to do their thing over the next couple weeks and hopefully come out with the best outcome possible.
Most properly run organisations and that includes every organisation that has in place a quality management sy stem, should be having a look at their risk register and be considering and perhaps having their hand on the trigger to take decisive action (hopefully) pre-planned for a no-deal Brexit scenario.
One of the primary reasons small to medium sized businesses initially go for certification to ISO standards is to gain competitive advantage, win larger orders and work with higher value B2B clients. A no-deal Brexit will NOT change that fundamental principle. However, due to an increase in barriers to trade (particularly with the EU) and potentially a reduced market to serve on the short term, perhaps being ISO certified will help to compete in what will be a relatively reduced market at least for a while. Vincent Desmond CEO of the Chartered Quality Institute states that "There has never been a more critical time to make sure your organisation is fit for purpose"
For organisations who do business primarily within the UK, they might only suffer any related secondary effects of the downturn. Organisation's whose primary market or a significant portion of their market is in the EU might have more considerations. Increased barriers to trade might make them less competitive than their competition in the EU single market and this could come with related consequences. Hence the criticality of the need for the government to get a trade deal that works for most. For those who have a primary market outside of the UK and EU, perhaps they are the most secure organisations during this period of uncertainty and nothing should materially change for them aside keeping a close eye on any potential exchange rate fluctuations. Perhaps, the UK would now sign better deals with the countries and country groups with which they currently trade. The BBC has a brilliant piece looking at the general no deal landscape.
The full understanding of trade deals really hit me a few years ago when I
audited, to the requirements of ISO 9001, a company that imports tinned fruits and vegetables manufactured in a wide range of third countries. As I sampled the import processes I took examples from EU countries, countries from South America and Ghana. The key control documents I had to review for the EU shipment was no more than the delivery note, very much as it would be for any shipment from the UK itself. However the shipment from Ghana was no less than 25 pages of evidence of various clearances, tariffs, license verification, stamps and duties etc. to get the goods here. Each of them representing a layer of excessive trade bureaucracy that the Ghanaian government has probably been unsuccessful at negotiating out in a trade deal. This is a bit of the extreme picture to imagine on the short term in a no deal Brexit.
However, through the deal or no deal scenario, you ISO certification stands firm as a tool for not just improving your business, but providing competitive advantage when the playing field is level. This is because ISO standards are truly international standards and is understood by businesses all over the world as a sign of organisations capable of delivering great products and services. We hope the government succeeds at getting the playing field level again post Brexit, as quickly as possible.
Here you can find a simple 3 top tips to prepare your business for Brexit, prepared by a lawyer who provides Brexit advice to businesses.
BSI,UKAS and the CQI issued Brexit statements in the wake of the vote in 2016, the advise is even more pertinent now.
Here in a previous piece I wrote for Quality World, the magazine of the Chartered Quality Institute, you can find what Brexit might mean to the UK's trade relationship with the developed world, BRICS countries and the developing world
Yemi Shodipo is Director at Charis The Training Company
Pic Credit Peel Ports, Liverpool