We expect four new laws to be passed soon. No major changes are planned because the system has been established, but some progress is expected right after the adoption of all bylaws
Some small and medium-sized enterprises approach standardization in an organized manner and with a clear insight into the link between standards and development strategy for their core business, while some apply standards for formal reasons. We talked with Miodrag Dugandžija, from the Ministry of Economy’s Product Quality and Safety Sector, about the importance of implementing standards and the legislative framework in this segment.
Is there a sufficiently developed awareness among SMEs of the importance of introducing standards?
The awareness is never sufficiently developed, but there are some improvements. We have held numerous seminars at the Ministry of Economy where we talked about the importance of standardization, the requirements regarding setting standards, technical regulations and the like. However, after doing all that, small and medium-sized enterprises still do not have the same privilege to develop standards as large companies. In that respect, they are at a disadvantage, because standards are mostly being implemented in large companies. Although there have been some improvements, SMEs are still not aware of all the benefits of standardization. Also, I would like to underline the importance of not only implementing a management system, which is the first step but also of the application of standards in the design, production and product control phase and the like.
What does it really mean when a company is implementing quality standards? How does that look in practice?
While conducting research, we realized that the reasons for the implementation of standards are sometimes of a formal nature, most often because a public procurement system requires so, and not essential and real reasons. However, standards exist, precisely as a result of best business practices, and their aim is to help. When companies adopt that kind of approach, then certification is sustainable in them. If the reasons for setting standards are formal, companies will usually pick the cheapest certification, which leads to problems. They choose someone whose competence has not been assessed through the regular accreditation process, and thus, due to unfair competition, the system will collapse.
“Small and medium-sized enterprises are not fully aware of all the benefits of standardization”
We need to convince companies to introduce the standard for themselves, not to meet the demands of others. When the company understands why it is necessary to work according to certain rules that have been translated into a standard, its motives will no longer be of formal nature. The most important thing is to make it clear to companies that they understand that the implementation of a management system in a company must be driven by a desire for improvement. The legislator views standards and their implementation as voluntary. We are trying to boost the implementation, highlight its importance and let companies know that no law prevents the use of a certain standard.
What are the Ministry of Economy’s plans for the next period?
This year, we decided to start working on revising certain laws governing this segment. In terms of standardization, there is no need to revise the existing legislation and there won’t be changes in the law, at least for now. The number of adopted European standards is quite high, somewhere around 99%, so that the Institute has been maintaining a high level of harmonization with European and international standards. In terms of accreditation, in the first half of this year, we adopted an amendment to the relevant law, the main goal of which is to slightly improve the accreditation system. Setting deadlines for the completion of the accreditation procedure is one of the biggest novelties that were introduced.
In the field of metrology, we are working on a new law that has been forwarded to the National Parliament. We expect the Parliament to pass it soon as it has already been included in the parliamentary agenda. We hope that in the first half of the year, together with the metrology-related law – the Law on Precious Metals – we will have four innovative laws regulating this area. The bylaws that we will pass in the coming period will contribute to the higher efficiency of the system. We are not planning on doing major improvements, because the system is already in place, but certain improvements are expected to be carried out right after the adoption of all bylaws.