Steve Purvis , Managing Director – Warehousing
We all know ISO9001 as a Standard that marks an organisation out as following Quality Management processes, but what are the tangible benefits for businesses involved in the warehouse space sector? What does accreditation to ISO9001 mean for businesses providing warehousing and, perhaps, more importantly, what benefits accrue for those seeking available space?
ISO9001, derived and developed from BS5750, is increasingly a requirement and a real differentiator for businesses hoping to supply organisations big and small. Contrary to popular opinion the Standard is anything but a box-ticking exercise, especially in its 2015 reiteration. Indeed, part of its raison d’etre is precisely to prevent Quality Management from degenerating into a narrow administrative task.
The Standard places a process approach to delivering customer satisfaction and driving continuous improvement right at the heart of the organisation. It requires the company to examine, and importantly to keep examining, its whole operation, from Board-level strategies and policies down to the individual processes and procedures that govern or affect the delivery of quality in goods and services. The ‘context of the organisation’ – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, both internally and as they affect external partners and stakeholders – forms the core of the approach, which is developed not prescriptively (those boxes to be ticked!) but by requiring the organisation to ask the right questions and to listen to and act on the answers, for example the feedback from customers and suppliers.
Of course, any reputable company has processes and procedures designed to assure quality performance. How far these are well understood, properly implemented, or developed in the light of changing internal strategies and external requirements can be more problematic. ISO9001:2015 provides a methodology to ensure that quality management is, and remains, fit for purpose, and is ‘owned’ not just by a QM team but by the whole organisation from the top down.
So, why is this important to an organisation, its customers, suppliers and wider stake holders? Our experience at Visku serves as a good example.
Two significant milestones were reached by Visku towards the end of last year. First, we were named as a supplier on the Crown Commercial Services Framework Agreement for Storage, Distribution, Kitting And Associated Services. This opens the way for us to bid on relevant contracts across the whole gamut of national government, local authorities and public sector agencies such as the health service, police, fire, education and including those offered by the devolved administrations.
One of the conditions of CCS recognition is that the company holds, or is at least working towards, accreditation under the ISO9001:2015 Quality Management standard, and we are delighted that this has also been achieved after nine months of hard work internally and with consultants. We believe this is a major step forward for our business, and for our customers and indeed for our suppliers.
What will this mean for Visku? Of course, it improves our ability to bid for and win contracts, especially with large public and private sector entities. Internally, it will drive continuous improvements in our processes and our ability to deliver our output, from major projects to individual pieces of correspondence, ‘right first time’, which will save time, money and stress.
For our customers we will be able to deliver better solutions faster, while giving them the assurance that our performance will be not just maintained but improved over time. For our space suppliers too, this is good news. Although many are themselves ISO9001-accredited, many others are not, but by working with an accredited organisation such as Visku they can gain access to opportunities that might not otherwise be open to them.
Meanwhile we can spread our continuous improvement methodology deep into that supplier base, and perhaps encourage them to go on the ISO9001 journey themselves. Attaining and implementing the Standard does have costs, and involves some hard work, but the process is by no means as onerous as might be thought, and we believe the benefits are considerable.
Meanwhile, Visku is not standing still – our next target, which we hope will be achieved in the next few months, is accreditation to the increasingly important ISO27001 Standard on cyber-security, while we ultimately aspire to extend ISO9001 accreditation across all the Visku business units.