The worst thing is to stick to the criterion that someone will do something for you quickly and cheaply
In each country, between 95% and 99% of all business entities come from the SME sector, and as a whole, they represent a very important segment of the economy, which is why it is especially important for them to recognize the significance of applying quality standards. We talked to Dušan Stokić, MScME, from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia (CCIS), about the CE mark, as well as about which CCIS services are available to companies in regards to setting up standards and the CE mark certification process.
Do you think that small and medium-sized enterprises are aware of the benefits of implementing business standards?
Sometimes it seems to me that this awareness is never sufficiently developed. Sometimes we come across positive examples, but there is a larger segment of SMEs that still does not attach enough importance to the implementation of standards or recognize their importance. Management needs to understand that standards will help them organize their own system and their own processes within the organization better. There will also result in concrete savings in money and time, as well as benefit them in many other aspects. Also, the introduction of standards facilitates innovations, i.e. developing products that will be not only safe and high quality but also innovative in order to break into some new markets. The biggest motive for companies should be that the economic benefits from the application of standards in the company’s total profit can range from 0.15% to as much as 5% of total annual sales revenue. Meeting public procurement requirements is one of the primary motives for implementing standards in their business processes. However, the main motive is launching their goods without any special obstacles and technical barriers.
How to choose a reliable certification body?
The selection criterion that is often used is the offered price, but before we come to any offer, it is necessary to get information about which credible bodies are available. It is important to contact those bodies that are accredited by the national accreditation body – the Accreditation Body of Serbia (the registry of these organizations can be found on the Accreditation Body’s official website). Of course, not all bodies are accredited in regard to issuing 9001 and 14001 with ATS management system certificates. It is possible that they are members of some of their national bodies, which is why we should then check if they are members of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF). The worst thing is to stick to the criterion that someone will do something for you quickly and cheaply. You have to choose a credible, reliable and accredited certification body.
What is a CE mark and which products are subject to this type of marking?
The CE mark has existed since 1985. This is not a mark that indicates product quality. Rather, it is a mark that indicates that the product is safe for the end-user, the environment and the property. It is a label placed by the manufacturer at the end of a process that lasts for several months and even longer, depending on the type and complexity of the product, the degree of risk that the product leaves on the end-user. Products that are subject to CE marking are primarily those made by the machine-building industry, means of transport, household appliances, electronics, personal protective equipment, medical devices and equipment, a large number of products used in the construction industry and a wide range of products classified into 24 groups.
What Chamber’s services are available to companies in regard to standards and CE marking?
The CCIS has developed a special web portal dedicated to the CE mark. You can find it on our website as part of the services and is free. This web portal contains all important information contained in European directives and the relevant Serbian regulations. There are also links to European standards that accompany these directives, as well as information on what a CE mark is.
“Companies need to consider standardization even during the product design phase”
The portal also contains a questionnaire. Once the user fills out this questionnaire, they receive a comprehensive, preliminary assessment of whether the CE mark is applicable to their product and if so, which directives apply to it. The CCIS also provides regular advisory services related to the introduction of the CE mark and we have published numerous brochures and publications on the topic.
What is your message for the SME sector?
They need to think about standardization on time, i.e. when they want to launch a product on a certain market. It is important to know what the requirements are for that product even during its design phase.