In an increasingly competitive marketplace, businesses are looking for more and more ways to demonstrate excellence to their clients and stakeholders. One way of showcasing this, is through an externally verified quality management system, which illustrates that an organization has the processes in place to adhere to internationally recognised best practice standards.
ISO 9001 is such a system. Used widely across the world, it certifies that an organization follows processes that adhere to best practice across all levels of the business - from facilities to people.
Obtaining ISO 9001 Quality management systems certification
Obtaining ISO 9001 requires a review of existing processes, evaluation and an audit, to determine what can be improved or implemented, which then must be changed and regularly reviewed to ensure that these improvements are made. While there is some degree of work involved, the benefits to the business can be substantial.
Llanelli and Cardiff-based architectural firm, Darkin Architects undertook ISO 9001 certification with BM TRADA in 2019, and the outcomes from the exercise have been significant.
David Darkin, owner of Darkin Architects who coordinated the project explains: “We moved to much larger premises in spring 2019, and were keen to grow the business. We’re a RIBA accredited business, and at the time we were a team of eight, with two fully qualified architects. As we were starting to grow, we recognised that we needed ISO 9001 certification to show potential customers that we are a serious business, with a commitment to service and quality. We also realised that in order to pitch for larger pieces of work, they were expecting businesses to have this certification in place.”
As part of the process of growing the business, the team at Darkin Architects decided that they would also need to recruit a Quantity Surveyor to join them. As the IS0 – and in turn the additional member of staff - could be shown to be actively working towards business development, they were able to apply for a Growth Fund from the local Council. This meant that they could claim back 50% of the cost of the certification, but also gave them a deadline in which they needed to complete it.
After a challenging start, David found BM TRADA, and was thrilled to have a supportive and understanding team, led by Jonathon Quayle, who helped him through the process and meet the all-important deadline for funding. He explains:
“Jonathon was great. He was very helpful, professional, and good-humoured and talked me through the entire process. He explained everything and provided regular updates throughout – and I felt like I could pick up the phone to him at any time. He was completely amazing and totally understood the situation and the time frame with the funding. I can’t praise him highly enough.”
The audit was undertaken by Steve Beynon, who also provided support, helping to complete the process within four months and in time for the funding deadline. David adds, “Steve was very professional and experienced. We had an email exchange in advance, so he was fully prepped and he helped us through every stage – he really knew his stuff. It’s a great comfort knowing we should have the same person auditing us again next year. Our entire experience was marvellous.”
Thanks to the support of the team at BM TRADA, Darkin Architects met their deadline, received their funding and achieved ISO 9001 certification. As a direct result of this certification, the team was able to recruit for their new QS and tender for two large projects that they couldn’t have done before.
As a consequence of the staff recruitment, one of the existing members of the team – a senior technician - was able to make a sideways move and start RICS training; and a former technician was able to move up to the senior technician role. This has since allowed them to also take on another technician.
The benefits of ISO 9001 certification can make a real difference to a business. As well as providing a sense of reassurance to potential customers, it can offer a competitive edge in tender processes, and, it can also have a positive effect on the workforce. On top of this, there’s a host of financial benefits that stem from improved levels of efficiency as a result of increased profitability and reduced levels of waste.
Working with a well-established UKAS accredited organisation such as BM TRADA ensures that the process of obtaining ISO 9001 is straightforward and easily understood. Having operated for over 80 years, BM TRADA provides the reassurance of quality, experience and robust processes that have continued to evolve and survive the test of time.
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