As with any sucessful company, we have spent many years working hard on our internal processes to ensure that we operate an efficient business and deliver quality products to our customers. To a large extent we have achieved that and many of our customers have come back to us and said how pleased they are with the service we deliver.
However, it is all very well us saying all of this. How can you be confident that we do what we say? That we work to approved standards and can correct mistakes when they happen? To do that requires formal standards and, in this day and age, standards that cross international boundaries.
This is where ISO 9001 comes into play.
The ISO 9001 standard
The standard covers the entire organisation and ensures that once certified a fully functioning Quality Management System will be in place. This system is subject to continual assessment and improvement and ensures that as the business changes so to does the Quality system surrounding it.
The standard applies to any organisation, regardless of size or industry and helps ensure their customers consistently receive high quality products and services
The standard encompasses seven principles;
- Customer Focus
- Engagement of People
- Process Approach
- Evidence Based Decision Making
- Relationship Management
But the key here is that whilst some aspects of the standard are mandatory how they are implemented is determined by the business and its needs. As long as the fundamental requirements have been met, are implemented and are monitored the organisation can be compliant with the standard.
Certified organisations are audited both internally and externally at least once per year to ensure that the policies and procedures are being maintained, adhered to and, where necessary, improved.
Management System Aims
For Optima, our aims can be summarised as follows;
- To ensure that our customers receive the very best attention at all times.
- To ensure that anything leaving our offices meets with expectations and is fit for purpose.
- To ensure that our customers have a great experience working with us.
- To ensure that if problems do occur, we do everything in our power to mitigate the issues in a timely and efficient manner.
- To ensure that if problems do occur, we change or improve our internal processes to prevent them happening again.
So, What Does It All Mean?
Well for Optima it means that we can show to all customers that we are indeed able to provide a quality product or service and back that up with internationally approved procedures. It does also mean that our staff will require an amount of training but also discipline to ensure that they follow the same rules and processes that we have laid down.
In some areas there will be more process to follow but overall the ISO standard should ensure that we are doing what we should always have been doing.
We hope our customers will notice the difference.
If you are considering the move to ISO compliance, we would recommend doing so. It is not that onerous as the majority of professional organisations will already be doing much of what is needed. Fill a few gaps and put your processes in place, you are done.
And What Comes Next?
Well now we have bitten the ISO 9001 bullet we are planning for ISO 27001 over the coming few months. Watch this space !
Paul is the founder and Managing Director of Optima Systems which he set up in 1990. His role today has changed considerably since those early days and now he spends much of his time on the road talking to new potential clients and spreading the word. Paul visits the USA on a regular basis as well as travelling around the UK particularly now that Optima has moved away from primarily financial software into the realms of clinical data and medical research. More about Paul.