Foremost Limited

Standard implementation processes

Name: Emma Eastwood


Position in the company: Managing Director

Years with the company: 2.5

Number of employees: 1

Yearly revenue: £ 200,000 (2019)


Emma Eastwood is an independent consultant that focusses on standards and their implementation.  How important is standardising processes in the companies you are working with and how often do these get reviewed in order to further enhance efficiency?

Standardisation is important to give people clarity on what is expected of them. Most companies tend to implement this in line with recognised standard that the business needs to gain for tendering or customer driven purposes. However, these standards are business management standards that should improve your business and drive continual improvement through the plan, do, check, act principles.

For me if you have standardisation within a business, it helps in the following ways;

to train new employees

identify the root cause of problems, to ensure that the necessary actions are taken to stop reoccurrence

shows lines of responsibility

aid retention of knowledge in the business

improves efficiency and many more…

These should be reviewed internally on a regular basis and as a minimum of every 6 months and if the company gains accreditation then these processes will be audited a minimum of once a year by an external certification body.

I am a massive advocate of the fact that people like structure and standardised processes give you this. They also allow the company to put in measures, in the words of Peter Drucker “what gets measured gets managed!”


You work with more than 30 different Yorkshire businesses within manufacturing and the service sectors, could you disclose a successful case study?

I have worked with The Watermill Press Limited in Bradford for 11 years. I have implemented 6 management standards into their business and still work with them to maintain these standards. The company provides adhesive labels to the FMCG sector. They do not have someone who manages the standards full time, so they required a system which was easy for everyone to use and a flow of information that was easily accessible.

We started by implementing ISO9001(quality), followed by 14001 (Environment), 45001 (Health & Safety), PEFC & FSC chain of custody and then finally the BRC Packaging standard.

Without these standards they would not be able to supply the major retailer’s suppliers within the UK. In fact, they wouldn’t even get past the pre-qualifying questionnaires.

I would say the most important standard to the company and the one that made the most significant impact was the environmental standard, it really makes you focus on the impact your business is having on the environment. They have reduced waste to landfill, installed solar panels on the roof and made sure that any energy they buy comes from renewable sources. With the addition of the chain of custody standards they have full traceability right back to the forest for all raw materials.


ISO standards within manufacturing premises are fundamental, which are the most used and what tips would you give to start-ups who would need them?

I would advise that any business should have ISO9001 as a business management system and to use it efficiently to run the business. It gives focus and clarity to what is important within the business. A motto I was taught by an MD was “if it looks like chaos, it usually is” that has always stuck with me.

It runs on the principles of plan, do, check, act and it allows a baseline for growth. As a business you determine what your processes will be and what your priorities are based on a risk analysis and then you set objectives to either lower those risks or increase your efficiency.

It aids a business to analyse what is going wrong in a formal manner and then to put in to action root cause analysis so that actions which are effective can be taken to ensure that issues do not reoccur in the future. Why wouldn’t a business have a mechanism whereby they could detect and rectify problems that will save them money in the future?

I work with companies who have 2 employees up to companies with 1500 and not one of them has ever said to me what a waste of money.

I Introduced a business management system into a sole MD owner business, the company grew from £300,000 to £15,000,000 in five years by using processes and system introduced through the ISO9001 principles and then the business was sold and because of its clear system and processes any perspective buyer could see it was well organised.


What defines process improvement success?  Within the manufacturing aspects, what should a company do to get the right process improvement team?

Having a measurement to see where you started, with a realistic target of where you want to be defines process improvement success. If you don’t know where you are in the current state how can you define if process improvements have occurred?

When I work with a company to implement process improvement it is imperative that you have someone who is key to the process involved, so a machine operator, packer or warehouse operative, they are doing that job daily so they will be able to offer inciteful knowledge as to whether or not changes will work. It is also important to have open lines of communication where challenging each other becomes the norm in a non-confrontational manner. A good process improvement team should be multi-functional, this is important so that they can ask the questions that may seem everyday to an operator - I refer to them as the silly questions! However, the silly questions often get the best results as it makes us question why we do things that way.


How can companies improve processes to promote and facilitate cross-functional collaboration?

If as above, you have a cross functional team who are able to challenge the norms in a non-confrontational manner it will aid collaboration. Having clear processes in place takes away any of the problems that can occur such as “that’s not my problem” or “who is responsible for that”. It is clear in the process who is responsible and the teams those actions lie with.

I am a real fan of cross functional working and when I was an HR manager any new member of staff would have to experience other departments and see the effect that their decision can have on it, positive or detrimental. People are human and most people will not set out to sabotage others even if it sometimes feels like that, so by encouraging the open culture across functions allows us to challenge in the appropriate way to get results.