Sep 12

Our New ISO 9001 Accreditation

We’ve Been Awarded the ISO 9001 Accreditation

As some of you may have seen on our social media channels, we have recently earned our ISO 9001 accreditation. This is a big deal to us and we wanted to talk about why it matters so much to us, as well as you.

We’ll explain what it is, how it affects you and also highlight some of the discussions around these awards.

What Is ISO 9001?

The official title for ISO 9001 is Quality Management Systems.

Simply put, any ISO accreditation is a certification to prove that a business has met a very specific set of standards. The business will need to provide particular evidence in order to show that they are meeting the criteria. There are also audits to be carried out. In the case of ISO 9001, which is a part of a range known as the ISO 9000 standards, the criteria is based around the management quality within a company. This means any company can achieve this and we believe all businesses should aim to meet the ISO 9001 standards.

The factors considered for accreditation include:

  • Facilities
  • Staff
  • Training
  • Services
  • Equipment

What this means is that ISO 9001 is an official piece of evidence that showcases our commitment to being the best partitioning company in the UK. We care about delivering a great service to our customers with only the best equipment, whilst developing the best staff possible. As a result, our reputation will only grow stronger as we continuously push to improve our management and installation teams, as well as our products. This accreditation is only part of the journey, but it represents a significant step for us. That’s why we are proudly showing it off.

Is ISO 9001 a Good Thing?

For us, the short answer to this question is yes.

We believe it to be a strong framework for management processes and has helped us to improve our own efficiency. Sussex and Surrey Partitioning was created with the idea that a good quality product and service will generate more customers and business for us. That way of thinking hasn’t changed after all this time and this accreditation is just another part of our efforts to be the best. With this accreditation, we now have something official to boast about, and can provide proof to you that we are good at what we do. We care about our company and we care about our customers.

Giving our side of the story is great, but we feel it would be beneficial if you understood the opinions of others, too. We wanted to look at some of the criticisms associated with ISO 9001.

Criticisms of ISO 9001

From a Business Perspective

There have been some criticisms of ISO 9001, including from businesses themselves who argue that achieving it creates additional strain and workload for their staff. In fact, a Quality Magazine article written in 2015 labelled ISO 9001 “more hindrance than help.” We can understand that many business owners feel this way. In fact, we were hesitant about going for the accreditation at first, because we felt the same.

In the end, what we found was that we’d actually already completed a lot of the paperwork and evidence required to achieve ISO 9001 anyway. With this accreditation, a business is trying to prove that they are using effective management systems and customer care processes. This can be done if the company is actually doing these things. If a company has already started documenting it’s quality systems (which it should do anyways as standard), then most of the ISO 9001 paper will naturally be completed.

Therefore, we believe that any company with good management quality intentions can achieve an ISO 9001 accreditation without putting a heavy strain on their staff or business. That’s how it happened for us.

From a Staff Perspective

One thing we wanted to show our staff when working towards this accreditation was that we weren’t a part of a management fad. From the personal experiences of our own staff, we are aware that management fads are real. However, we are committed to focusing on looking after our team and customers, rather than jumping on the latest trends in management.

To give a brief explanation, a management fad is when a team leader will implement a change in a working or organisational process purely because it has recently been reported widely. Whilst we do want to apply what has been learned from recent studies and research into our own management practices if there is a benefit, management fads often replace each other when a new management style becomes popular.

ISO accreditations have been accused of being a management fad since their inception. We can see the argument for this if a company decided to suddenly change their processes in order to achieve an accreditation. However, we have used the ISO 9001 standards as a guide to help us improve our current practices, rather than change them. We were fortunate enough to notice that we were already fulfilling most of the criteria when we first looked at it, much to the relief of our team. Some relatively small changes to our management systems helped to get us over the edge and we’re happy to report that these changes have been for the better.

Whilst we understand the potential concerns staff in any company may have regarding ISO accreditations being a management fad, there was no need for us to completely overhaul our way of working in order to achieve ours.

From a Customer Perspective

We were actually a little surprised when we found out that the general public had a reasonable awareness of ISO accreditations. We had wrongly assumed that they were in the same category as QR Codes, which only a third of consumers actually were aware of. Please accept our apologies for this mistake!

When speaking to some of our customers before winning the accreditation, we realised that some had concerns around a company’s intentions. Their concerns were that a company would only be aiming for an ISO accreditation because they wanted to use it as a way to win more business. In other words, they were worried that companies with an ISO award were more interested in the customer’s wallet than the customers themselves.

We must admit that we were taken aback by what turned out to be a concern shared by a large number of people. It’s almost comparable to the concerns staff have regarding ISO accreditations being management fads. Luckily, we’re not just jumping onto the latest ‘flavour of the week’ in order to win more customers. That’s what our marketing budget is for! The ISO 9001 accreditation didn’t come as a big change to how we’ve run our business in the past. It’s just been a development of our current systems, which has led to an improvement.

The criteria for achieving an ISO 9001 accreditation when it comes to customers includes:

  • A high level of quality in products and services
  • Meeting deadlines
  • A positive attitude towards customers
  • Minimal returned products and complaints
  • Passing independent audits to demonstrate a commitment to quality

If you have ever worked with us before, we like to think that we met those criteria when we did collaborate. With the award, we saw an opportunity to improve the level of quality we deliver to you. What we were most interested in was the independent audits, as that could give us an external perspective on the work we carry out. We are very pleased to say that we passed our audits with flying colours!

Final Thoughts

The ISO accreditations should be seen as a positive thing for any business. This is as long as the intention behind achieving one is for genuine improvement.

It would be interesting to see a study on the public perception and awareness of ISO accreditations in the future. We would like to know if the perception is positive, negative or neutral. We’re thinking back to when we spoke to our customers about this and are still surprised!

Either way, it is a part of our journey towards becoming known as the best partitioning company in the UK. We believe that we are the best and want to do everything possible to ensure that is true. This ISO 9001 accreditation represents a great step forward for us, because we’ve managed to improve our management quality as a result of the standards we needed to meet for this accreditation. That’s why this means so much to us.

In the end, we’ve made a valuable improvement to benefit our company and customers. The accreditation itself is an added bonus.

If you would like to know more about our continued efforts to deliver the best service in the UK, or want to discuss an upcoming project, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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