Developing a quality management style or system is vital to any business because it provides the foundation for continual success and improvement. Results stem from the top down so it makes sense to invest time and effort into refining processes and procedures that best fit the environment that the company operates in and the staff it employs. Having a system in place is one thing but ensuring it is recognised by potential clients and existing stakeholders is another.
In order to achieve that recognition you can obtain ISO 9001, Quality Management System, which offers a comprehensive framework to build processes that help to ensure objectives are achieved.
Globally adopted in a wide range of industries from manufacturers and service companies, to both large and small, multi-site multi-national organisations and single location businesses, ISO 9001 has become the most widely recognised Management System Standard.
The principles upon which ISO 9001 is based include:
– Customer Focus
– Involvement of People
– Process Approach
– System Approach to Management
– Continual Improvement
– Factual Approach to Decision Making and
– Mutually Beneficial Supplier Relationship.
Chadoak Plumbing and Drainage is one of Melbourne’s largest plumbing companies and has recently taken the journey to achieving such recognition. Despite the journey being lengthy, Director Peter Griffin believes the future benefits will far outweigh the time and effort required to obtain it.
“We were doing work for the water authorities so initially we had a system from the Civil Contractors Federation which was the minimum standard you had to have to keep your accreditation with the water authorities. It was an integrated management system that exhibited certain traits of ISO 9001 as well as environmental management (ISO 14000) and health and safety management (OHSAS 18001). We had to have those but the system wasn’t really built for plumbing as it was designed more for civil contractors,” Peter Griffin, Chadoak Director explains.
“After a period of time we had to change the system and because we were so close to IS0 9001 we decided that we might as well go all the way. A lot of our builders are requesting that level of management system now, especially the tier one companies. They either need you to have it or ask that you work with their system and we didn’t want to change ours to match theirs. We were better off having our own and by doing so we have taken the first step. Further down the track we can look at achieving environmental and health and safety ISOs if we see the need to.
Achieving ISO 9001 can be made as easy or difficult as you make it and very much depends on the size of the company and the systems required to satisfy staff numbers and competencies.
“You can buy a Quality Management System off the shelf for virtually nothing and use someone else’s system but then it’s just a piece of paper that no one understands. We headed the other way and went through the lengthy process and implemented our own system that we all understood and believed would benefit the company. We were offered a system to buy but we wanted something that was set up for our company,” Peter says.
“A two man show could probably buy a system and adapt to it but when you have such a variety of competencies such as backflow, maintenance, air con and commercial it’s hard to buy a system that suits.”
“We received plenty of guidance along the way and it took about 12-18 months to achieve. We hired a business coach to help set up structures from the top down and we put in another tier of supervisors as a result. We also brought in a motivational speaker from Melbourne Storm as well as a consultant to speak to the team leaders. We then went to the next step and got the IS0 9001. The costs involved were mainly associated with time and loss of productivity due to bringing the team together for meetings to ensure everyone was up to speed.”
By attracting new clients Chadoak envisages that it will pay itself over in the long run. Essentially, it is a system that they have always had in place but now it is recognised so it opens up the door to government bodies and large corporate companies.
“By rights it should provide a more efficient way of doing things because everyone in the organisation has to deal with things in the same way. Systems have been put in place that everyone has to abide by so documents can’t be fudged. We are already seeing great benefits internally. It has streamlined operations in the office and instead of having a 25 page manual we have five pages that explain everything in detail. It provides the guys onsite with exactly what they need to work to including QAs and S.W.M.S,” Peter explains.
“It makes the plumbers accountable and provides them with ownership from start to finish. There are check lists and procedures in place that need to be followed as well as inspections and test plans. They know that they need to meet those standards and the builders know they are working under quality management so it’s a win-win.
Not a company to rest on their laurels, Chadoak are continually looking to improve and are subsequently in the process of finalising an app that will digitalise inspection and test reports.
“We are developing an app that will allow team leaders to file reports electronically and in real time so we can check jobs and ensure all of the boxes are ticked before they even leave the site. Photographic capabilities will also provide us with a visual of the work rather than just a description. It makes the whole procedure foolproof as the foreman can sign off on photos that are dated and accompanied by a time. It offers an extra level of security and in this day and age you need to cover yourself as best as you can.”
The app will be rolling out over the next couple of months and if testing is anything to go by, the management team is extremely happy with the development. In today’s ever-evolving landscape it pays to be pro-active, no matter what industry you compete in. Chadoak will continue to do so, today and in the future.