I have been asked what a typical ISO implementation and route to Certification looks like so below is a simple description – as you can imagine, I could go on all day! – of what happened with a typical specialist contractor client (who has given permission and whose case study appeared in his trade journal).

Initially I was referred to Scott McKenna, MD of McKenna Flooring, by Richard Catt, the CEO of the Contract Flooring Association (CFA), who was aware that Scott was seeking ISO 9001 Certification (Quality Management). When I met Scott I encouraged him to also go for Certification to ISO 14001 (Environmental Management) and OHSAS 18001 (Occupational Health & Safety Management) at the same time as there is lots of time and money to be saved by securing all three certifications at once within an Integrated Management System (IMS) and it is perfectly feasible for contractors of all sizes to do so. Almost all our clients go for a Triple ISO system. There are common elements to the Standards which make them easy to bolt together; quality management being the bedrock with the unique elements of environmental management and the unique elements of health and safety management added within an integrated structure. Most contractors do not need standalone environmental and health and safety management systems and these can be very practically integrated into a quality framework.

Being an ex-contractor myself, and having implemented these Standards to great benefit to the businesses I worked in, my approach is always to fit ISO to your business and not expect your business to fit to ISO. This is a fundamental principle which ensures that you develop an IMS that serves your business day-in day-out.

At our initial meeting I started, as I always do, by explaining the requirements of the three Standards to Scott. It is worth pointing out that when I explain the requirements of the three Standards to business owners, MD’s and top management nobody has ever questioned the value of doing any of them! The key is always to find the most efficient and appropriate application of the requirements to the business at hand.

Scott was adamant that he wanted the leanest and most practical and effective system – music to my ears – for McKenna Flooring. One of the biggest myths around ISO is that it is bureaucratic and full of paperwork and rigid ways of doing things; not so! ISO is all about enshrining your Best Practice, accessing new markets, assuring your customers, managing your risks and, most importantly of all, improving your business. In addition to these laudable goals, when you embark on an ISO journey it is a chance to solve any issues or problems that you may have in your business (for example, do you really know the true costs of any occasional poor quality in your business?) and commence all the improvement initiatives you have always wanted to do but never had the time because you have been in the trenches. Ask yourself, what would your business look like if it continually improved into the best it could be? Continual improvement is certainly feasible and an ISO Certified IMS will not only instill ongoing improvement processes but will build long-term value for you (it is a fact that ISO Certification will increase the value of your business).

As we embarked on developing McKenna Flooring’s integrated management system, I urged Scott to concentrate on defining his desired Best Practice and let me worry about ISO requirements. Like most businesses there were requirements that MF were already doing and quite happy with, there were things that needed tweaking or refreshing, and there were some new things, usually around business improvement, that were new and had to be developed. Working in bite-size chunks against the Standards’ requirements so that neither Scott nor any of his staff were taken away from their normal business operations, we quickly developed an IMS that satisfied Scott’s objectives. This need only take a matter of weeks, not weeks of continuous activity but short bursts of concentrated effort to put the IMS elements in place.

When you seek ISO certification for that first time you must go through a two-stage audit. Stage 1 is a document review whereby an independent auditor will assess the IMS manual that has been created to check that the requirements of the three Standards have been robustly addressed. Throughout the process of creating the manual I will be checking for conformance and completeness so that both audits will be passed first time. It is my job to worry about ISO so you can simply concentrate on what is effective for your business. Clients glean enormous benefit from the ISO process itself, from deep thinking about how exactly you want your business to work; defining this correctly will make it easier to efficiently define roles and responsibilities and add even more value.

Once a Stage 1 audit has been successfully negotiated you now have a document that you know is ISO compliant and this is the document that you will now be assessed on at the Stage 2 audit which will be a “live” test of the system that we have created. An Auditor’s job at this stage is to ask, “Do you do what you say you do?” This is why it is vital that you only allow into your IMS manual what you know will stand up to scrutiny!

One of the unique features of Foy Certification is that we offer you a Guarantee of securing successful ISO Certification, and our fees are back-ended until you have done so! We can offer a guarantee because I am a qualified Lead Auditor for the three Standards and therefore know what an Auditor looks for and what needs to be included in the IMS that we create. Whilst we certainly first and foremost create the IMS that suits your business we clearly need to demonstrate to an Auditor a respect for and adherence to the ISO requirements. We also uniquely offer Aftercare as you bed your system in.

So like all Foy Certification customers, McKenna Flooring passed their independent UKAS accredited audits at the first attempt and now has an IMS which will continue to evolve and serve the business. Is there a better foundation for business growth?

Please see other Linked-In Posts for further ISO and BIM items of relevance to specialist contractors or visit www.foycertification.com Always happy to chat: 07528-571357

Testimonial from Scott McKenna – MD McKenna Flooring

“From early days McKenna Flooring has always placed focus on the quality of the work that we deliver. As we have grown and our work with main contractors has become the focus of our business, we have also developed systems and processes that not only make our daily lives better but also differentiate us as a business, making us easier and more attractive to work with. Having an integrated management system approved under the ISO 9001 standard was a natural progression of this approach and the fact that we were actually able to complete a full suite of accreditations (ISO 9001, ISO14001 and OHSAS 18001) has surpassed our initial objectives and expectations. Andrew delivered on his promise of a smooth path to successful accreditation and our business has undoubtedly benefitted.”