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ISO is one of the strategies put in place to ensure that organizations can provide goods and services that meet international standards concerning quality. The government of the UAE is under obligation to ensure that its departments abide by these standards considering that Dubai is a regional hub of commerce and this means that there are so many people who come to purchase and sell goods and services and they hail from different parts of the world.
The government of the UAE has its health facilities that compete with those owned by private entities. The public health facilities have been struggling to receive ISO certification but then various challenges were hindering the achievement of this certification. This paper will shed light on the challenges that had to be overcome and also the outcomes that followed the implementation of ISO standards.
Challenges of Implementing ISO
One of the obstacles to implementing ISO certification has been found in the area concerned with the training of employees. This is one of the requirements that must be fulfilled before an organization receives the certification. Rahman (2001) argues that the problem here is caused by a lack of adequate funds to facilitate the training of employees in the health sector of Dubai. The government of UAE allocates funds to public clinics annually, but then how the money is used is decided by the administrators of those units. This implies that a clash of interests among the administrators could slow down the process of training the hospitals’ employees.
Bayati and Taghavi (2007) further state that the training programs are meant to create awareness on the need to meet international standards. It is certain that decision-making processes in public entities is influenced by politics and was found to be further complicating the issue. The training is meant to ensure that administrators and employees are knowledgeable on how they are supposed to implement the standards. Also, the training creates a favourable environment for a smooth transition because the entire organization is enlightened about the changes that have to be introduced and how they are likely to affect their daily routines.
Auditing is also important before the implementation of ISO certification because it is meant to promote accountability and transparency in financial reporting (Koc, 2007). This means that public clinics in Dubai have to present honest and reliable financial records. It follows that the records must be vetted by an external auditor after the internal auditor has finished computing the values. There many institutions that have complied with this requirement. However, the majority of them are yet to comply possibly due to lack of proper mechanisms of carrying out the defined tasks.
Additionally, leadership is essential in achieving international standards. This is because the people at the top-most level are the ones who should be spearheading the implementation process. Their willingness and commitment are what will influence the speed at which the processes will be carried out. Efficient leadership means that the people in management positions should collaborate with the other employees towards the accomplishment of organizational goal.
Involvement of all parties involved can result in attaining the required certification, but this is not the case in Dubai health clinics due to their organizational cultures that do not integrate employees of all levels in decision-making processes. Lack of inclusive participation can result in setbacks because when the unit managers try to introduce changes in their departments, they are likely to face resistance probably because the juniors do not understand why certain measures have to be introduced.
Time is another challenge that can hinder the implementation of international standards, considering that there is little time allocated to prepare for implementation. Kaynack (2003) explains that this is because the department of health requires ample time to find and distribute resources for the implementation of the standards. Also, if the department of health in Dubai does not have its manpower to train the employees, it has to outsource trainers from outside the block.
Similarly, documenting the processes that are involved in service delivery is a very demanding role because all the stakeholders have to sit in round table meetings so that they can establish organizational structures and the role of each department. This act of documenting requires a lot of understanding because the lack of it can later affect the implementation process. Documenting entails allocating tasks to individuals in their respective departments. Documentation is meant to define the roles that assigned to individuals so that when something goes wrong someone is held answerable.
Since the implementation of international standards is a gradual process, it presents another challenge, that is, the clash of duties. This is because the implementation is parallel to the existing strategies. This could cause the organization to be overwhelmed and thus fail to deliver the required results. Sometimes, the management of government health might be faced with the challenge of comparing the standards set by private health clinics with those being implemented. In such a case, the outcome is the determining factor.
Finally, the lack of qualified manpower to carry out the training of employees is another significant challenge. If the government does not have its personnel to conduct the training programs, it has to outsource the expertise which is even more expensive. Furthermore, the auditing could be coupled with many errors especially if the organization is carrying out the task for the first time.
Outcomes of Implementing ISO Standards
After overcoming all the hurdles of implementing the ISO standards, the government of UAE achieved commendable results in its service delivery in public health facilities. First and foremost, the health facilities have been able to meet the requirements of its customers, and that is the general public that is comprised of the citizens and foreigners. This was achieved by providing services that are worth the money that the patients pay.
Customer satisfaction led to another achievement that entails customer retention. Power, Terziovski and Sohal (2003) argue that before the implementation of the standards, the public health facilities were losing their customers to their counterparts in private practice. This is because the private clinics were providing services of high quality which was not available in public clinics.
The improvement in service delivery led to a decline in complaints that were being reported to the authorities. The documentation that was done before implementation provided the guidelines that would be followed in making decisions so that the employees can make wise decisions in solving the challenges they meet in their daily schedules.
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Additionally, the decline in complains meant that the confidence that was once lost had now been recovered. By acquiring international certification the general public felt assured that what they were paying for is worth their money. This was attributed to the implementation of ISO, which is internationally recognized.
Similarly, the decline in complaints meant that the customers were more satisfied with the quality of service that was being provided to them. This in itself is a source of motivation and inspiration to the employees. Having satisfied customers motivates employees to work harder and in the end, the performance of the health sector improved tremendously.
Satisfied customers provided referrals to their friends and hence the revenue generated by the health sector was bound to increase with time.
Another important outcome is that the health sector will be able to meet its future goals because it will be able to fund its activities without relying on subsidies from the government. Funding is attributed to the increase in revenue collection. Also, such achievements are the indicators of the issues that need to be addressed in future towards improving service delivery.
Furthermore, ISO certification has enabled the government health clinic in Dubai to place a lot of emphasis on “how they do business”. Koc (2007) argues that ISO implementation forces a firm to document its procedures and standards and therefore, continuous improvement of the service delivery is guaranteed.
Finally, ISO standards have enabled the public health clinic to differentiate itself from competitors. ISO certification is a form of marketing advantage because, as mentioned before, customers are satisfied with health service delivery and hence, increasing the market share. Also, differentiation implies that the company can associate itself with reliable suppliers, both from public and private sectors.
Bayati, A, & Taghavi, A., 2007, The Impacts of Acquiring ISO 9000 Certification on the Performance of SMEs in Tehran. The TQM Magazine.
Kaynak, H., 2003, The Relationship Between Total Quality Management Practices and their Effects on Firm Performance. Journal of Operations Management, 21(4), pp. 405-435.
Koc, T., 2007, The Impact of ISO 9000 Quality Management Systems of Manufacturing. Journal of Materials Processing Technology, 186, pp. 207-213.
Power, D., Terziovski, M., & Sohal, A. S., 2003, The Longitudinal Effects of the ISO 9000 Certification on Business Performance. European Journal of Operational Research, 146(3), pp. 580-595.
Rahman, S., 2001, A comparative Study of TQM Practice and Organizational Performance of SMEs with and Without ISO 9000 Certification. International Journal of Quality and Reliability Management, 18 (1), pp. 35-49.