It’s quality awareness week here at Telelink. We’re an ISO registered organization and our external audit is coming up. While we’re preparing for the external auditor to arrive, our Quality Council is busy running around the office crossing T’s and dotting I’s. As we prepare, it also provides us with an opportunity to reflect on why we are an ISO 9001:2015 registered organization in the first place.
The International Organization for Standards (ISO) promotes the adoption of a process approach when developing, implementing and improving the effectiveness of a quality management system to enhance customer satisfaction by meeting customer requirements. That’s quite a mouthful. But what does it mean to Telelink specifically?
ISO is a lot of things to a lot of organizations, but ultimately for us, it is to help us do what we do – to the best of our ability. By setting a standard of quality that is second to none across our entire organization we allow ourselves to not only produce our best work, but we can produce our best work consistently.
14 years ago Telelink was a 40-year-old company with a great deal of best practices, but we found ourselves weak on documented processes that provided consistency in our deliverables. We came to the realization that the way we ran our company was not scalable. To grow we had to design and follow processes consistently. When we began our ISO journey, we were so thrilled by our new process world that we became over-processed. We were delivering a high-quality product, but it slowed down our deliverables at times. In the last two years, we have studied and adopted the Lean methodology. Our foundation of ISO combined with the principals and practices to eliminate waste through Lean have allowed us to significantly improve both our quality and productivity.
There are some other positive by-products of utilizing the ISO quality management system, besides consistently producing high-quality work. A quality management system also helps assess risk, reduce waste by finding efficiencies in processes and systems. A result of reducing waste is often improved process control and lower costs. The above by-products have their own unique benefit, but the true value is their compound effect on overall business operations.
The compound effect of all these individual benefits helps promote continual improvement within our organization. The more we’re able to think about continual improvement as an organization, the more prepared we become to identify risk and manage change to effectively maximize on areas for improvement.
When we all row the boat of continual improvement in the same direction, we don’t just meet customer requirements, we exceed, innovate and enhance the entire customer experience. Consistently exceeding customer expectations can open a lot of doors for an organization. Many customers who come to Telelink are looking to add structure and process to their customers’ interactions. We use the tools we have developed to help bring that to their organization.
Other doors are opened simply from having that coveted ISO stamp of approval. For many contracts in the Oil & Gas industry, Emergency Response Services and Health Services industry, having an ISO registration is a minimum requirement. ISO is an international stamp of approval that’s recognized in 168 countries and can give an organization credibility when competing for contracts.
For an organization like Telelink, who is making a conscious effort to sink its teeth deeper into the Emergency and Safety landscape, our ISO registration certainly opens doors that would not otherwise open. On top of that, it helps us think and act like other companies in industries we wish to thrive in. When we implement these standards across all our daily procedures, safety-related or not, it helps us serve our customers more effectively.
Maintaining our ISO registration is no walk in the park. It takes a significant lift and a lot of dedication from our entire organization. We have a Quality Council made up of a Quality Manager, multiple Internal Auditors and a Document Controller. Every Internal Auditor is ISO educated and have undergone training by an external controlling body. They are all certified as auditors and check our standards rigorously.
Our ISO registration ensures that we hold ourselves to a higher standard and that we hold ourselves accountable. For example, whenever we have issues, mistakes, complaints, or ideas for improvement we track them and their progress. This way, issues don’t fall through the cracks and get forgotten until the same mistake is made again. Issues get resolved quicker and more effectively. We track these things so that we can learn from them and continually get better as an organization.
Sometimes following a procedure can feel a little burdensome, and in the moment even inefficient, but over the course of months and years we can see tangible improvements from our team, the opportunities we are presented with, and the quality of work we continue to produce. Being ISO registered is one of the things that makes Telelink an organization truly dedicated to learning and continual improvement. We are quality geeks who love to talk quality to anyone who loves quality too, so just ask us about it.